Stories Matter

Surprise! Surprise! None other than media tycoon James Murdoch wrote: ‘Stories matter…In 2016 and beyond, those who wish to create a better world will have to make storytelling the center of their efforts, not an afterthought…. Once, consumers had limited points of access to information and content, and powerful state and commercial institutions guarded the gates. That time is over… In this connected world, the game is up….As the example of ISIS proves, the state’s loss of control of narrative is not an unequivocal blessing. But it shouldn’t be feared. We should embrace the clash of narratives in a free and ungovernable global conversation…We will have to see if 2016 will be a year in which stories of anger, grievance, resentment and scapegoating of the “other” are ascendant, or whether stories of the power of love, empathy and hope for a better future rule the day…People themselves will ultimately decide the winners and losers. In this age of narrative, the stakes have never been higher.’ Murdoch is the CEO of 21st Century Fox This appears in the December 28, 2015 issue of TIME.

Last week-end, eight people met (two by skype) at the home of Roy Searle, of Northumbria Community in Wooler, Northumberland. Their theme? ‘Creating a Redemptive National Narrative’. Convened by Claire Bankole of Fusion UK, it was one of the most intellectually stimulating week-ends of my life. Someone pointed out that poor mother attachments in our ‘orphaned society’ produce a tsunami of mental health problems. Dominic Sandbrook (i-player) highlights how individualism has vitiated the myths that can create greatness. Another said: ‘I’m here because I felt a call to recover a lost memory in order that we might rise to our greatness’. Someone quoted a member of Causeway Vineyard Church in Northern Ireland: ‘We don’t have a dream for our church: we have a dream for our community’. One quoted novelist Stephen Lawhead: ‘Our task, amidst the enduring myths, is to tell the enduring story’. Deuteronomy 32:7 calls us to pass on the heritage to succeeding generations. Arnold Toynbee tells us about the rise and fall of civilisations. Martin Luther King spoke of 'digging a tunnel though the mountain of despair'.

Claire Bankole, of Fusion, touched on relevant disciplines which we could usefully read up on:

• The Gestalt insight into organisational behaviour and how a ‘figure’ can organise perception that would otherwise have less awareness.

• Dosher’s insights into the process needed for an awakening into corporate greatness. We need 1) agitators 2) prophet myth-makers 3) statesmen who have the trust of the people 4) social policy makers and organisers.

• The notion that in order for a nation to be turned Godwards we must use the four instruments: Arts, Media, Politics and Education.

Those present were focussed on the need to tell the stories of the first Christian Awakening in Celtic lands, and of the 19th century evangelical social social reformers. But we need to complete the picture in order to inspire wholeness and the Common Good.

Social media offer the prospect of belonging, but it is virtual and evaporates. We look for true life stories of real community. We look for stories that cure the victim mentality behind the North-South divide and class war.

Finally, we are clear that God deeply loves and has a plan for every country. We want to model something here that can inspire peoples in every continent. Everyone needs to know how the ordinary person, through God, can do extra-ordinary things.

Posted at 01:51am on 15th April 2016
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