I am in love with stories. This is marginally interesting because growing up, I never read a book. Not one. Not once, at least not after maybe 12 years of age.
A couple of years ago I had an idea for a literacy program called “One Good Book”. It was based on the lives of my son Ben and I. Both of us refused to read until we were around twenty years of age. All it took was one good book. I thought it was a great idea and my wife happily pretended I wasn’t mentally-challenged, and they weren’t interested in the idea, of course. I imagined videotaping (do we still call it “taping” and if so, why?) the two of us telling our story. My book was the mindless man-soap-opera The Bourne Identity. I can’t remember what book it was for Ben. I absorbed that book, and it’s cheesy cousins within a week or two, and I was hooked. Reading, mostly listening to audiobooks, is my thing now; and the richness it has brought to my life is beyond measure. Nothing is better than a good story.
I am fairly confident, and a few of my friends can easily verify this, that I have spoken in public somewhere in the neighbourhood of 2000 times. Two thousand times. By any measure, that is more than a few. I have learned a few things along the way. Number 1 is leave them wanting more, not less. If you are a pastor or a presenter you better be a lot better than me or I want you off the stage in around twenty minutes. If you are a minister and you speak for fifty minutes your parishioners are probably lying to you. Just saying. If you want me to listen harder, tell me a story.
I am still amazed by how few storytellers are out there. I will forget your facts but I will remember the story of Yurtle the Turtle for the rest of my life. I am pounded by information all day, every day, so why should I pay special attention to yours? Just saying.
Stories intoxicate me. Do you remember the story of the dime? the train ride in the French countryside? Can you remember the cadence from that story about MLK? I can hear Churchill’s slow, desperately measured voice crying, “we will fight them on the beaches”. King decrying, “I can see the mountain”. the Black Douglas, The story of Le Chambon. Or The Dardenelles, or Masada. It’s David hucking rocks at a giant or Medusa’s hair. Here’s to everyone who has ever drawn a line in the sand and said, “We have the Jews, and you’re not getting them”. For millennia humanity has poured it’s heart into stories because stories matter. Don’t give me information, tell me a story.
Want to hear a story?