I was looking for a quote from Tim Keller about JRR Tolkien the other day and I accidentally found this fascinating talk from Tim Keller about the conversion of C.S. Lewis through a conversation with J.R.R. Tolkien about stories.
The stories we tell and the stories we pay to listen to, read or watch tell us a lot about what is in us, about what we crave. A good story can be life changing. When a plot or a character is well developed by a story teller (author or actor or both) we invest in that plot or that character, it changes how we view the world. We root for good over evil. We are drawn to stories about heroes and sacrifice. We love to see conflicted characters who long to be good but many times fail and do bad.
Watch Lost, Breaking Bad or The Walking Dead and see the struggle of good versus evil or the inner struggle to be good or sacrifice for someone else. The art in these shows is not in the technology but the struggle.
Can I recommend a couple of films? Road to Perdition is a fantastic film for telling this story of inner struggle, family and making choices. It is set against the back drop of a conflicted man and his relationship with his surrogate father and own son. Do yourself a favor and watch it and think about how we crave to hear a good story told.
Gran Torino is a story of a racist and dying widower who engages a family next door who would typically be the recipient of his racism. The story is about redemption, sacrifice and change set against the backdrop of a dying old man. Do yourself a favor and watch it and think about how we crave a good story told.
Cinderella Man, October Sky, Good Will Hunting, The Impossible and Million Dollar Baby… these are some of my personal favorites that get to the heart of what good story telling can do.
The culture’s fascination with telling and hearing these stories points to something.
Keller quotes Tolkien as saying, “Look at the gospel, look at the story of Jesus. Do you realize what you have there? Escape from death, a love that conquers death, good triumphing over evil, heroic self sacrifice and when everything looks darkest you get life out of death it is everything you want in a story. Jesus is the underlying reality to which all other stories point.”
So go and watch or read a good story.