The Power of Stories

By

For years I’ve been making up stories for my kids at bedtime. It started with the two older kids when they were four and six and sharing a room, and at first all the stories were unrelated. Maybe a butterfly king was searching for his lost butterfly crown, or maybe two clouds were racing to see who could circle the world first, or I remember one where their toothbrushes came to life and danced in the sink while we slept. Eventually, I told a story about a boy and girl who lived in two castles on either side of a river. Being human, they naturally loved anything that seemed to revolve around them, and they started to ask for more of those stories.

Standing between their beds, silhouetted by the hallway light, I made up dozens of twisted and half-baked plot lines. Every now and then, a smart story would emerge that needed a proper telling, so I’d leave them hanging with the dreaded “to be continued.” Cue the groans and pleas.

It was a season, in the end. Eventually the big kids got separate rooms, then we added another young’un and nighttime creativity was trumped by a need for sleep. Sometimes I still make up stories for Ben (he’s 3 years old), when he has to go to bed earlier than the others, but the big kids have moved on to Harry Potter, The Wingfeather Saga, the Hardy Boys, and Calvin and Hobbes, and they want to read till the last second before they close their eyes.

Then a few evenings ago, my eight-year-old son was tearing through The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic for the second time and the other two kids were playing and winding down in the other bedroom. As I began to shoo them to bed, the three-year-old asked me to tell a story. His older sister joined in, “pleeeeease dad!” It doesn’t take much, really.

I began as I always have – with the first thing that emerged from my mind.

Two kids walking to school, older sister, younger brother. Little brother spots a beautifully glittering rainbow colored leaf, but all the grass around it is singed. Big sister sees that it is dangerous to touch so scoops it up into a small metal box little brother had with him. (Ben actually has such a box and sometimes brings it to school).

At this point in the story, Livi and Ben are all smiles. Its like old times, but with a different little brother. They are completely caught up in the story, and I have no idea what’s coming next. The ideas come in real time. Big sister keeps box with the leaf in her backpack. When they part ways at school, little brother waves goodbye, big sister rudely sticks out her tongue.

Big sister goes to class and is obviously not herself. She’s uppity to friends and classmates (I narrated a few snide exchanges), and eventually talks back to the teacher and gets sent to the principals office. On her way she sees little brother in the hall and he asks her for the box with the leaf they found so she digs it out of her backpack and says something like “here’s your dumb box.”

Mom comes to pick up big sister who is suddenly back to her normal kindhearted self, they arrive home to a message on the answering machine from the school. Now little brother is misbehaving and is being sent home for the day. Big sister starts to piece together what is going on.

At this point I see my daughter hiding behind the covers. I don’t usually keep a lot of eye contact during these stories because my brain is so preoccupied with figuring out the story. I peeked behind the covers to find her face all red and wrinkled and streaked with tears. She was silently bawling.

As a parent, I was horrified. I immediately derailed the story, hopped on the bed, held her close, and quickly made up an ending where she saves the world from destruction. That did not help, so we just sat and hugged and I apologized. As you may have surmised, she saw herself in the character, and became emotionally overwhelmed when “she” started treating friends and loved ones with such venom.

The evening’s sudden dark turn reacquainted me with the raw power of story, and reminds me now of the sacred burden storytellers bear. Good storytellers engage the imagination and have access to the entire range of human emotion, so we place our trust in them when we enter into their stories. For what on earth is more powerful than imagination? Could we even have love without it? Surely we could not have hate.

Most of the memories from my childhood are the ones associated with deep emotion, so if she’s anything like me, my daughter will probably remember something about that night for the rest of her life. Do any of you have memories of visceral reactions to story at a young age? And if so, what were those stories about?


36 Comments

  1. Tenika Dye

    Thank you for sharing Randall! This post gave me chills and made me tear up. All that you wrote I believe to the core.

    In my opinion, a true storyteller does a number of things but 3 things I see here that you did that are crucial are the following: 1) “Listens” to everyone involved in the story (The storyteller, audience, & story) 2) “Illuminates” 3) “Takes care of” your audience.

    You were actively engaged in “listening” on several levels: You listened to yourself, not that difficult to do so you are the one speaking 😉 but you were able to “listen” to what the “story” wanted to say and let that merge. The “story” does have a “voice” if you are willing to let it speak. You “listened” to your audience- you took in the body language of your daughter and didn’t ignore it but recognized it and made adjustments.

    Story is able to slip quietly in to “illuminate” dark corners of our hearts and souls often before we even know what has happened. It brings awareness of who we really are but also more importantly who we CAN become!

    You “took care of your audience”. Now of course you are the Daddy and you certainly don’t want to cause pain to your children. However, the “story” wanted to show your daughter something painful and you followed that “story” into the “cave”, which can be quite uncomfortable or painful but sometimes is needed. BUT you as a responsible and caring Storyteller didn’t leave your audience in the “cave”. You brought them back safely to the light. Your audience is always more important than you and although there may need to be a moment of “uncomfortable” if you want to be trusted as a Storyteller you have to remember to “take good care of your audience”.

  2. Profile photo of Ron Block

    Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Randall, great post. The benefit to your daughter is for her to see her real, deep down desire, which is “I don’t want to be like that!”

    I’ve always loved stories. I was the kid at the Grass Valley library checking out 10 or 15 books every week. A prime example for me is Narnia. Those books set me on a search that is continued throughout my life.

    For a time, in my teens, I was fascinated by Stephen King. But in my early twenties I quit reading him because it put too much darkness and fear into my mind (But I am currently reading Dracula).

    My kids are readers. They read and reread books. My son had read Rick Riordan’s first book about Percy Jackson. We watched the movie, and the next day in the late afternoon we went to Barnes and Noble and picked up the other four books in the series. The second one was finished by bedtime and he started the third one. He read them all in a couple of days. I watch how stories capture my children’s minds, and I’m glad they’re story people, too.

  3. Loren

    I love how this piggy-backs on Jonathan Rogers’ latest post, “How Stories Do Their Work on Us” (http://jonathan-rogers.com/?p=42). The point of a story is often the story, not some moral. Or I should say, that’s how a good story works.

    Wow, hard to say what story from my childhood sticks out because there were so many that molded me. The Chronicles of Narnia and The Little House books were probably the most influential. The characters and stories in those were part of my life and still are in a way. Then there were the stories my mom told us every night about Gingerbread Boy and Mouse. They lived in the walls of our house, and Gingerbread Boy secretly tagged along with me most of my school days, or hung out with my mom and sister so I found out what they had done during the day.

    Now that I think of it, one story that helped me work through things I didn’t know I needed to was Fiddler On the Roof. I saw the musical when I was about five, then the movie, and was enthralled. My sister and I would create LEGO towns and our characters were all a displaced people who managed to survive against evil ones. When Mom made us take down our town after a week or so we’d sing songs of sorrow and talk about the future hope of a place for our people. Interestingly, this was when we lived in the Philippines for a few years, and for all the joy of that time, it was temporary. The time came when we had to say goodbye. But there was hope and excitement as we looked toward the future, and we knew that because of stories like Fiddler.

  4. Beth Brendle

    That’s why we love The Jesus Storybook Bible, which I first read about here in The Rabbit Room. We’re on about our fourth time through it together, my three boys and I. They love the story of God and His amazing plan to rescue His lost people. Every good story echoes that First True Story in some way, I believe, because we are a part of it and we were created to live it. Our imaginations are what make us really alive…and all of us are looking for echoes of that overarching plot.

  5. Becca

    What a great post. Thank you.

    I’m currently finishing a MA in Storytelling. (Yes, one exists. The follow up is a PhD in Play-Doh.)

    The program attracts a rather bohemian following, as you might expect. So last week, I was sitting in a classroom of friends who would quickly be labeled by a host of derogatory terms in many conservative circles. I’ve grown to love them tenderly and respect them much.

    One of the gals told the story of the “Elves and the Shoemaker.” I sat there enchanted, because I am in the program as a writer, not a performer. Speaking is hard for me, but this woman brings orality to life. Midway through her story, I felt tears choking in my throat, because I suddenly heard a deeper resonance, and it caught me off guard.

    The class discussion went along these lines:

    What is the core of this story saying? Why does it speak to us so powerfully?

    A man comes to the end of himself. To the end of his resources. He stares into the dark night touched by the moonlight, wondering what will come tomorrow.

    And he resigns himself to sleep. It is there that provision comes.

    – – –

    By this point, my heart was pounding with internal dialogue:

    And there was evening, and there was morning. And it was good. / Adam, too, slept in his need. / The work of day begins the night before, placing rough leather pieces of faith on the table, waiting for what we cannot do with flesh and fingertips to take form. / So, be still and know. Go sleep in the gospel sheets of the moonlight — gentle candle of reflected light. / Let your day and night reverse. Let your work be done in rest. Because the sun’s brightness pouring out of your every surface is the place of greatest beauty.

    – – –

    Ripe is the word, I think. Stories are ripe. And we tell them not realizing sometimes what power is in them.

  6. Amber Leffel

    This is beautiful. Thank you. Although I am young and single, I am eager to share Story with a husband and children, one day. I know He works in us through It all. He has revealed to me the beauty of all of this only recently (my upbringing wasn’t really riddled with classic movies or books or what people would call “normal” imaginative fun, though my imagination certainly was active and worked itself out constantly), and I am loving it every step of the way. Thanks, Mr. Goodgame, and all of the Rabbit Room for so effectively aiding in my journey to/in/through/by His Good, Beautiful Truth.

  7. Laura Peterson

    This post brought to mind a very clear memory of a book I read in my childhood – “Treasure in an Oatmeal Box” by Ken Gire. I picked it off of the blue-sticker shelf in the church library, the one for “advanced readers,” and brought it home with a bit of pride in my heart because I usually chose books from the green-sticker, younger reader shelf. I have no idea how old I was at the time, but I’ve since come to the conclusion that I was way too young for that story. I SOBBED at the ending. I think I threw the book across the hallway. (Spoiler alert….) The plot details are fuzzy now but I remember that there were twins, one of them had special needs, and he died at the end of the book. Yikes. I have a twin sister (who is coming to Hutchmoot this year! Yay!) and I think that story was the first time I was confronted with the possibility of the loss of a sibling or peer in such a tragic way, and I felt totally emotionally unprepared for that – and SO angry that a story, one of those safe places that I retreated to so often, would have betrayed me in such an awful way. It was rough.
    Thankfully, I’m somewhat grateful for that experience now. I think it taught me how much a reader’s age and life experiences and emotional maturity bring to their reading of a story. That’s part of why I like re-reading children’s books so much – I read Little Women much differently now than I did as a fourth grader. I think it’s also made me a little wary of the power of story….but in a good, full-of-awe way.

  8. Heather E. Carrillo

    Great post. I actually did this sort of thing with my siblings. I was just thinking the other day of posting some of the actually finished ones. I think maybe I’m inspired.

  9. Ugly Biscuit

    As a child, I didn’t read alot. Not by RR standards at least. Movies had the biggest impact on me. Of which, these would be first in line:

    Amityville horror 1979 (For whatever the reason, this movie got me hooked on special make-up effects)
    Superman 1978
    Quest for fire 1981
    Raiders 1981 (Blew me away)
    Six million dollar man
    The incredible hulk 1978
    Star Wars 1977

    I am a writer and an illustrator now. Whats interesting is that most of my influences were petrified about reading their works in public…..Dr. Seuss being at the top of that list.
    You would think that it would go hand in hand. That if someone was a talented artist. And wrote this really great stuff, that they would be equally gifted in the presentation.

    All to often, thats not the case.

    The one and only book that i’ve had published, i took with me on several book tours back in 2008. I estimate that i got up and read to 10,000 kids over a one year period covering three states. Kentucky (where i’m from) North Carolina and TN.

    Now, to what RG said in his post, especially the next to the last paragraph and also a bit of what BECCA was talking about, what i have found in my readings that crosses every line. (I’ve read to 2nd graders, high schoolers, professors and parents….all from the same book with little or no adjustments in my presentation) is humor.
    Being handed down the calling of writer and an encourager through the sharing of what you engender is an awesome responsibility not to mention, the greatest vocation ever!

    And humor connects all audiences from what i’ve found through my story-telling. Entertain and make them laugh, then slip in your faith in the third act!
    That’s what the Christian artist, Dave Barnes does if any of you have seen one of his concerts.

    Laughter is a powerful component to great story-telling.

    I miss doing it something awful. (story-telling)

    Great post Mr. Goodgame. I agree, creativity and imagination are way up there on the list, and i thank God for being the ultimate gift-giver, the best comedian and the master yarn-spinner! I myself, have reserved a seat, for story-time, right by His left ankle for all eternity! Should be quite the ineffable expierence to say the least!

  10. Ugly Biscuit

    Gospel sheets of the moonlight…

    Nice.

    Becca, you should come out and do readings with me. We could prop you up in the corner of the library with a brown paper bag over your head. And you could be grasping one of those 1970’s tape-recorders. You know the ones; big, fat, hard buttons for pushing. Cheesy handle.

    And every so often I’d point to you and you would mash one of those intractable buttons and out would spill your lovely words, like the guts of a battered pinata! How topping that would be…

  11. whipple

    Thanks, Becca, for that reminder:

    “Let your work be done in rest.”

    It is timely when all around me screams that productivity is a type-A act of human will, a sheer wringing of every last sweet drop from the fabric of the mind. Work until you can work no more, and then work some more – or so the idea goes. How good is the balm of remembering that, if these things do have a life of their own – trite as it may sound, then sometimes they need space to breathe.

    I repent of beating a story to death to make it shine.

  12. Megan

    Wow,

    This post was so interesting. Storytelling has always been a part of my upbringing and now part of my daily routine (I do story time with the kids I nanny). But this post made me think of a song, actually,.. one I’d listen to on long car rides. This song was all about morality, right and wrong. Every time I listened to it, I felt so guilty, as if I couldn’t live up to those standards. (now, thankfully, I understand Jesus’ gift and that I don’t have to)

    I guess I’m just wondering if anyone else has had a similar experience? If perhaps many forms of art have powerful effects on us….

  13. Fellow Traveler

    Randall, pick up a copy of Isak Dinesen’s _Out of Africa_ one of these days. You’ll be glad you did. The African perspective on stories and story-telling is fascinating.

    Oh, and I needn’t tell you not to bother with the movie, which is nothing like the book. At all.

  14. Jaclyn

    Thank you so much for this, Randall! I always appreciate your storytelling in your music. I very much needed to hear this today.

    Megan, I can definitely relate.

    Since I was a little girl, the movie “A Little Princess” has always been to me one of the most beautiful and inspiring pieces of (I regard it as) art. I so admired Sara Crewe for her joy and boldness, and wanted to match her integrity and compassion. I’ve never read the novel, but I’d like to, even though I know its plot is different.

    I was always looking for connections between things as a little girl, and seeing the little chimney sweeper boy in the movie connected in my heart to “The Chimney Sweeper” poems by William Blake. Those poems made me always aware of and sensitive to victims of injustice, and set me for many years searching for some solution that I could be a part of; I wanted so much to save everyone.

    I was sad to realize as I grew older that I couldn’t be everyone’s savior, but supremely glad when I discovered Jesus could be a Savior to all. I had grown up in church, and technically should’ve understood this, but like Jonathan Rodgers mentions in his post, I think I’d only ever heard the precept of redemption, but hadn’t heard much of the story.

    What ended up really preparing my heart to meet Jesus was a book that my grandfather gave me: The Neverending Story by Michael Ende. The main character, Bastian, suffers terribly as an awkward, overlooked young boy. Yet he holds this resilient faith that a better, brighter, more just world somewhere existed:

    “He had never been willing to believe that life had to be as gray and dull as people claimed. He heard them saying, ‘Life is like that,’ but he couldn’t agree… It was these
    lies and delusions that made people blind.”

    **minor spoiler alert**

    I loved this book and still do, because when Bastian finally discovers that Fantastica is real, and all the wonder and beauty he’d always hoped for was real, he is grateful and in awe, but never in disbelief. He fully accepts it and embraces it as real. That’s how I feel about eternal life. Sometimes it seems too fantastic that the God who made everything loves us and bothers to work with us– yet it’s true, one of the most deeply true things there are. It’s our joy to lay down our disbelief and embrace this greatest of news tightly, and to never let it go.

    **spoiler over, thank you**

    While this book apparently (if Wikipedia is to be a trusted source in this matter) espouses anthroposophy philosophy, which seems pretty well in conflict with scriptures, I still believe it’s a great story. I don’t know how else to say it. I wouldn’t put it on the level of scripture, or even a devotion. Just a great story that helps me see more clearly who I am, where I now live, and the Eternal home I long for. Does anyone else experience this kind of tension?

    A few more goodies—

    Here is a video of one of my favorite scenes from A Little Princess, including the gorgeous song, “Kindle My Heart”

    And here is a link to “The Chimney Sweeper”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Chimney_Sweeper

  15. Carin

    I don’t ever remember my parents making up stories to tell me, but my mom did read to me every night for years–lots of condensed classics and Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories. I loved them all, except for one of Uncle Arthur’s stories that I think was called “The Two Karens.” It was about a girl who was a delight for her teacher but a brat for her mom. I think it was ironic that the character’s name was similar to mine. I hated that story and vehemently fought the conviction it brought. I wish I had had your daughter’s tender heart back then.

  16. Becky Kulp

    I remember reading the final book of The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander and just crying. I was probably around 13 and it was so sad to me that this group of friends that had gone through so many adventures together would be separated forever. It was also hard for me to comprehend choosing a life that has death & sadness over a life of forever happiness. The main character makes this decision to help his people and if I had had a better grasp of the gospel back then, I may have made the connection of how Jesus chose to die for us rather than just hanging out in heaven.

  17. Dan R.

    I remember reading a book called The Whale’s War (I think), and despite the fact that the plot seems to have completely faded away from my memory I do remember reacting to it on a level I hadn’t to many other books before, if any. There were also the Seven Sleeper books, which I think did a story’s work on me fairly well.

    From the other side, several years ago I co-led a group as part of a wilderness adventure program for college first-years, and I remember the struggle of trying to decide what I would do to make the experience special in a unique way for the students in my group. I had never done anything like this before, and how was I going to take advantage of all the opportunities this program had to offer to enrich the growth of a group of “kids” I didn’t even know? I knew some of the other group leaders were bringing books to read, so I decided to haul along my ‘big book of George MacDonald fairy stories.’ (not actual title) It sort of sounded crazy at the time, bringing along a significant amount of extra weight in a collection children’s stories that I intended to read to a bunch of college kids, but I think that decision made for some of the most memorable times in that entire program. At least it did for me.

  18. Eva C. Whitt

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading Goodgame’s sharing of his time with his children. It is truly a wonderful and special time and just seemingly unending….it is however, a very fleeting and unbelievably special time between reader and listener. I could not read enough books as a child and youth. I am not as voracious as I was in my early years but reading is truly an adventure and a delight…It is learning, escape,enchantment, enlightenment, awe-inspiring and a true love of mine….As an older person, living alone, a good book, even a mediocre book is company and I have fallen asleep many nights with my dog and my book by my side…God Bless you all….

  19. JWitmer

    Randall, I envy your ability to plot a story on the fly like that. Your children are blessed.

    I also appreciate your thoughts on story. Where the Red Fern Grows is the only story I remember that seized my emotions that deeply, until I read The Last Battle. But I remember vividly how it was stories made history come alive to me as a child, and that feeling of identification was why I loved the class.

  20. Goodgame

    Thanks for all the feedback, everyone. I’m finally able to get to my computer after a day of travel out to Washington to play at Creation West (and I’m hoping to hike up a bit of Mt Rainier tomorrow).

    I’m definitely going to look into all the stories that came up. (Ron, my kids are already devouring the Percy Jackson books whenever they show up in the library.) Here’s a list of all the happily mentioned influential or memorably moving books…

    Narnia series/The Last Battle (C.S.Lewis)
    The Little House series
    Fiddler on the Roof
    Out of Africa (Isak Dinesen)
    Elves and the Shoemaker
    Little Women
    The Chimney Sweeper poems (William Blake)
    The Neverending Story (Michael Ende)
    The Jesus Storybook Bible (Sally Lloyd Jones)
    The Whale’s War
    The Chronicles of Prydain (Lloyd Alexander)
    Where The Red Fern Grows
    ******added later******
    The Chosen
    The Redwall series (Brian Jacques)
    A Wrinkle in Time (Madeline L’Engle)
    Lord of the Rings (Tolkien)

    And Megan, I absolutely relate to your memory of deathly lawful children’s songs, full of morality but empty of joy. I can’t remember any one song specifically, but I remember that feeling of relentless inadequacy that those songs could engender. I think it is good to be acquainted with that feeling – so we can know more fully the depth of our need. But those old songs were doing it accidentally, celebrating goodness as if we had achieved it. That’s dysfunctional, and cruel, even.

    Part of my passion for the Slugs & Bugs music has to do with celebrating Christ’s goodness in the face of our unrelenting badness, and how supernaturally (or, as if by magic) that act of humbling ourselves and celebrating him really does change us, making us more like him. (Or, as our Ron B. might say, more like our true selves.)

    I long for kids to begin to taste that joy and life and freedom of the Gospel, that they might love and laugh easier, and that worship would be as sensible to them as breakfast.

    And Laura P, thanks for sharing that story about the “Oatmeal Box” book.

    Thanks all of you – I learn so much here.

  21. Grace

    No one has mentioned the (long) series of Redwall books by Brian Jacques: animals living in an abbey and going on fantastic and dangerous adventures and quests.

    I love the books, but I remember finishing ‘Martin the Warrior’ and sobbing my eyes out as a young teen. My librarian mother was so worried at this response that she didn’t want me to read any more of them, but looking back, Martin is the most Christ-like figure from the books, though all of them seem to echo Scripture-ish themes throughout. It’s been a while, but I think I remember a Holy Spirit kind of entity that helps them in times of need.

    His other series is more blatantly related to spiritual things, and is darker in tone, though goodness almost always prevails.

    I would recommend them for middle school and older readers.

  22. Grace

    Quick addition: L’Engle’s series, starting from ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ still manage to make me tear up, in their ability to make the veil between this world and the next thinner.

  23. Becky Kulp

    I think you might have wanted a Little Princess on your list instead of Little Women, though I love Little Women and would recommend you keeping it on the list. I loved Beth in that book and I think it was the first time I had to deal with a beloved character’s death.

  24. Dan R.

    This may end up being a rabbit trail, but I “coincidentally” ended up reading C.S. Lewis’ essay “Men without Chests” last night, and it struck me that a lot of the things he had to say go very well alongside what you (RG) talked about here regarding children and stories. More specifically, that good stories, those with “emotion… well expressed,” are the ones that help children grow not merely into women and men, but into true humans.

  25. Fellow Traveler

    _Out of Africa_ is actually a collection of autobiographical reflections, and I mentioned it because the power of story plays an important role.

    As for a story to which I can remember having a visceral reaction as a child—come to think of it, _Where the Red Fern Grows_ did the same thing for me it did to someone else who already mentioned it. _The Lord of the Rings_ of course will forever stand as my all-time favorite novel. I read it when I was eight years old, and it’s never let go of me after many re-readings.

    Another book that impacted me a lot is _The Chosen_, which I first read when I was ten. It’s an incredibly powerful story. A couple of Potok’s sequels are also good, but not on the same level.

    In the realm of movies, I recently watched _The Elephant Man_ for the first time, and I can’t remember the last time I sobbed so viscerally when watching a film. It completely undid me.

  26. Bekah Tuggy

    I saw half of a film on the life of Florence Nightingale when I was about eight or nine, and one small scene branded my imagination with the searingly horrible idea of necessary limb amputation without anesthesia. It haunts me to this day. It was because of that movie that I waited until I was in my late teens to read The Hobbit, because I’d somehow found out that Frodo has the Ring bitten off his finger and knew I could not handle reading about it; I still cannot bear any film or most books that involve dismemberment of a living person. Not because of the gore, but because they all remind me of the horrible reality that once even our best attempts at medical mercy were in themselves unimaginably horrible abuses to the human body.

    The frantic need to rise up, get away, stop my ears, that I experienced watching that scene directly shaped how I understand the Law and Christ’s Grace. Once, the cure was to forcibly – even brutally, if one can say that about our Father’s gift of the law – remove the gangrenous self crushed and infected by sin, and be forever maimed and ill even though life was granted. And when I see people I love still apply this killing law to each other, mistaking it for mercy, I want to vomit.

    How different is the healing of the rot – the raising from the dead – the knitting together of splintered bone that all comes in grace! How he has taken humanity, born twisted, broken, and continuing in self-mutilation ever since the Fall, and has made and daily makes us a standing, walking, leaping and dancing body!

    So, when I praise our Lord for not hiding himself from our festering, grotesque disfiguration, but instead coming in and becoming sin for us and healing the world from the inside out, there’s always a little part of me that thanks him, too, for Florence Nightingale, and for anesthesiologists, and for cleft-palate-repairing plastic surgeons, and for ethical stem-cell research. Healing is brave work. I shudder and believe.

  27. Bekah Tuggy

    …Oh, whoops, I know the Frodo/Gollum/Ring scene isn’t in The Hobbit; I *didn’t* know that before I read it at seventeen, and was surprised not to find that scene in the book. My above statement is accurate regarding my mistaken knowledge at the time!

  28. Goodgame

    Fellow Traveler,
    I also loved Chaim Potok’s “The Chosen”, and his “My Name is Asher Lev” is one of my favorite books of all time. I recommend it every chance I get (like now!).

    Bekah,
    I carry a similar scar from a WWII movie that I saw as a young teenager. It portrayed awful, brutal violence, perpetrated on an innocent, and I’ve never been able to leave behind the horror of it. And it was on regular TV. I felt betrayed by the filmmaker,
    and I’m certain that scene has contributed to my vigilance about veiwing potentially affecting movies before I let my kids watch them.

  29. Fellow Traveler

    _My Name is Asher Lev_ is powerful as well. “Drink your orange juice Asher Lev.” It still has the genius touch. But I still think _The Chosen_ is greater.

    I believe that when it comes to violence in film, there are many different levels, and a lot of people tend to create a false “all-or-nothing” dichotomy. Some people would have a problem with letting their kids watch some old western or swash-buckler because (gasp), people are KILLING each other. But a torture scene like what RG is describing is a whole different ball-game. Not like a good clean fencing match at all.

  30. Fellow Traveler

    Oh and while we’re talking about movies, let’s not leave out _Chariots of Fire_. That would be a crime. Single. Greatest. Film. Ever. Made.

  31. Jody SF

    Just found this website and read this post. Favorite books as a child was the classic Heidi. This probably dates me but I remember devouring the pages and hoping all would go well for Heidi.

  32. Dan R.

    Jody, on behalf of everyone else here who may or may not have seen you come in, I’d like to humbly welcome you to the Rabbit Room.

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