The Message, which I almost never use because it seems to make less sense to me than most other translations, says in Mark that Jesus “taught by using stories, many stories.” We all learn better when hear other people’s stories. I think this singular phenomenon may be why memoirs are so popular now—people learn better when they learn from stories, not from someone telling them what to do. Self-help books have their place, usually in the garbage can in my opinion, but memoirs and creative nonfiction, I think, have a distinct place, not the garbage can, because they feed readers’ need to other people’s stories. We need to hear how other people deal with stuff. Jesus knew that. He knew that people need stories that relate to their lives in order to learn how to function, especially because he was trying to teach them how to live in a whole new way. Of course the new way is the way they should have been going all along. The basic message of Christianity is not much different from the basic message of Judaism: forgiveness, grace, mercy, love, peace, kindness, compassion, and hospitality. Essentially the message is the same: you are created in the image of God; act like it. Perform your identity in Christ. I would go a little bit further with this whole idea of performativity, and if I were writing this for a literature journal instead of a blog, I might talk about Judith Butler, and say that the way we act is much of who we are. But this is a blog, so I won’t. I will say, though, that her whole argument is that we perform our gender. People perceive our genders based on teh way we perform them, or act them out. Wouldn’t it be great if people could look at how we act and immediately perceive our Christianity? My point merely is that our stories should be shared for the better good, to help others realize that we are doing in the world, and to help others make better choices than we have made. Our stories are the evidence we have for the world of our identities in Christ. We act like Christians, we act otherworldly, and we are perceived as Christians, our stories evidence this. Frequently, my stories evidence how far I have to go in performing my Christianity. Sometimes, sadly, I don’t look the least bit Christian. Too often. Mark continues to write: “With many stories like these, he presented his message to them, fitting the stories to their experience and maturity. He was never without a story when he spoke.” Jesus’ stories always fit his specific audience: he was acutely aware of the rhetorical triangle. And he was like one of those guys at the bar, or like a woman in a retirement home, he always had a story. His stories, however, had a point, and made sense. I do think, though, that people may have thought he was a bit like the barfly or the demented person, because his stories sometimes didn’t make sense, so much so that he had to go “over everything, sorting out the tangles, untying the knots” with his disciples. I wonder if they ever felt like he had gone crazy? Well, I know they were confused sometimes, but I wonder if Jesus ever started a story and then Peter and the others looked at each other like “oh, no, here he goes again, telling that story.” I want to tell stories that change lives. I want to be like Jesus.
Switch gears. Today is the first day of summer school. I never thought I would take summer school again. But here I am. Class starts in an hour, and I am not sure I want to go through with it. I am not sure I can. I really enjoyed the past week of doing nothing school related, reading things for pleasure, sewing, plating, mowing, fixing things, and spending time with all the pets. I keep telling myself that it’s only for five weeks, and I can do anything for five weeks (25 days). I am looking forward to reading some theoretical books, and I am excited about reading books for the book club, but I am not so excited about writing. I do know that I will learn tons of valuable information and techniques in this class, but I also know that I am one of the worst writers in the program, so it may be a bit painful. Regardless, it starts in an hour.
Switch gears again. The party at our house was a great success. I had fun, and so did a few of my friends, so that is really all that matters. I just wish that more people would get involved. I mean, if you can’t go to a party, what can you go to? I guess it is a busy time of year. Also, it was Mother’s Day weekend, and lots of people were Mothering.