Monday, July 31, 2006

The Story Told Differently

First off, I realize this post might come off as odd. For starters, it is an actual post. Who would've thought it was still possible for me to post twice in one day? More importantly, though, I think it may surprise a few people.

I've long heard, and probably even said once or twice, the maxim that goes something like "if only we told the story differently . . . " E.g., "If only we Democrats could frame the issues better, use positive language, etc. we might win more elections"; or, as I'm sure some of the readers of this blog have wondered or said aloud, "If only Christians weren't such distended assholes, the faith always be treated like bullshit nobody (not even the faithful) really believes." There is, of course, an obvious logic to this kind of thinking. Without it, where would all our marketing gurus be today? But logic only ever goes so far for me. I can't help but wonder: is it possible for an actually existing (versus hypothetical) faith to finally and fully override and overrule either (a) what one would like their faith to be, or (b) what one would like to think this faith used to be?

That is to say, what would it mean for the truest manifestations of the faith (be it religious or political) to be boiled down to the simple formula: "the story told differently"? What if this manifestation of the faith is, for lack of a better word, a singularity; or, to be more "prophetic," miraculous? Is it still possible, in this apparently post-liberal age, to use the same language and forms of a faith (e.g., the Bible, the sacraments, the liturgy, etc.), but for this use of language & form to be recontextualized? What I'm talking about is not a return to liberalism -- for instance, the transformation of the traditional gospel of orthodoxy to the social gospel of Enlightenment values, and thus of traditional concepts of redemption and judgment to the terms of social justice (although I'm not opposed in principle to this transformation). Rather, what I'm wondering about is the relationship of speaking and living the faith & truth: is it still possible to speak of the faith in such a way that the opposition between "story told well" and the "story told badly" makes no sense? Why? Because the story told truthfully is in-built with an intensity that makes it impossible to "frame" (and thus to circumscribe) but also impossible to silence -- i.e., that speaks itself in truth simultaneously in spite of & because of its particular context/language/form.

Which is to say, in short, what if there are no "better" stories, or "better" versions (and thus more compelling versions) of the truth? Only stories/versions that perpetually call forth the truth that is worth listening to and speaking -- the story told differently, that truth which effectively destroys it form, perhaps on a Cross, and thus all one expects and knows of it, perhaps like a god, in order that it might be reimagined into something neither qualitatively "better" or "worse," as this assumes some standard by which we judge it; but rather & simply something worth being listened to and spoken yet again, a listening & speaking in faith that is, finally, the only true act: that of creation.