True Stories

 

Why does everything in the world today have to be, so to speak, a federal case? Why is everything suddenly an outrage, a pathology – a “life-ending” mistake? Used to be you could say or do something stupid, or even not-so-stupid, and it wouldn’t make you an outcast or even a bad person.

But then, it used to be that we told happy stories, true stories, once upon a time . . . Stories that weren’t just abstract or hothouse notions in the heads of their creators, perpetuated when people who don’t know any better take them seriously and think they’re representations of real life.

Stories can be dangerous things – especially when encountered by young, inexperienced people – and a story can be as small as a word and as vast as the assumptions it encompasses. Stories can warp lives, even if we don’t realise what we’re surrounded by is a story.

It can work another way, too. If you take away the stories that people used to live by – stories of heroes and happy endings, of honour, honesty, and truth, and yes, of true love – then what alternatives do they turn to instead? And what follows from that?

But then, maybe that is, as they say, another story . . .

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There are 10 comments.

  1. Clavius Thatcher

    Andrew Miller: It can work another way, too. If you take away the stories that people used to live by – stories of heroes and happy endings, of honour, honesty, and truth, and yes, of true love – then what alternatives do they turn to instead? And what follows from that?

    Well written Andrew. Keep writing those stories.

    • #1
    • August 12, 2019, at 4:13 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  2. Percival Thatcher

    • #2
    • August 12, 2019, at 4:24 PM PDT
    • 20 likes
  3. Andrew Miller Member
    Andrew Miller Post author

    Clavius (View Comment):

    Andrew Miller: It can work another way, too. If you take away the stories that people used to live by – stories of heroes and happy endings, of honour, honesty, and truth, and yes, of true love – then what alternatives do they turn to instead? And what follows from that?

    Well written Andrew. Keep writing those stories.

    Thank you. 

    Will do. :)

    • #3
    • August 12, 2019, at 4:24 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  4. She Thatcher
    She

    Andrew Miller: Why does everything in the world today have to be, so to speak, a federal case?

    Put me on the list of people who’d like to have fewer “national conversations,” please. A thought that runs through my mind almost every time I scan a so-called “news site” and find it infested with the trite, the superficial, the prurient and the irrelevant. And as far as I can see, at least three-quarters of whatever’s on any of the 7x24x365 news channels on any given day could be jettisoned, and we’d all be much the better for it.

    Why is everything suddenly an outrage, a pathology – a “life-ending” mistake? Used to be you could say or do something stupid, or even not-so-stupid, and it wouldn’t make you an outcast or even a bad person.

    Having served my turn in quite a few barrels during the course of my long and happy life, (perhaps even on this site, on occasion), I follow this with a resounding Amen!

    • #4
    • August 12, 2019, at 4:33 PM PDT
    • 14 likes
  5. Clavius Thatcher

    She (View Comment):
    And as far as I can see, at least three-quarters of whatever’s on any of the 7x24x365 news channels on any given day could be jettisoned, and we’d all be much the better for it.

    Truer words have not been written.

    • #5
    • August 12, 2019, at 4:45 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  6. GrannyDude Member

    She (View Comment):
    Having served my turn in quite a few barrels during the course of my long and happy life, (perhaps even on this site, on occasion), I follow this with a resounding Amen!

    One of the things I like about Ricochet is that y’all seem pretty darned forgiving…for which I have reason to be very grateful! 

    • #6
    • August 12, 2019, at 4:48 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  7. She Thatcher
    She

    Percival (View Comment):
    It can work another way, too. If you take away the stories that people used to live by – stories of heroes and happy endings, of honour, honesty, and truth, and yes, of true love – then what alternatives do they turn to instead?

    Just quoting this because I wanted to “Like” it again.

    From a post I wrote a while back:

    Through my childhood and over time, I came to find lessons and truth in these tales of life, fellowship, courage, faith, loyalty, love, and betrayal. To understand that I could do my own part, even in small ways, to emulate the good in them and that I, and others, would, as part of our fallen natures, act out our fair share of the bad. I came to recognize the bad from the good, and I came to understand that redemption, salvation, and a second chance came with the territory if I could embrace, understand, and follow the necessary steps to accommodate them, for this world and for the next.

    Those were the lessons I took from my escape into the faith-based, historical and fantastical worlds of my childhood. Good lessons. Healthy lessons. An understanding that what I was reading, reciting, or singing wasn’t always “real,” but that some of it might be true. That, perhaps after I thought about it, digested it, picked out the bits of wisdom in it, and then turned around and looked at my life, I could apply those lessons, and be a better and more whole, person as a result. As long as I can remember, that’s been my experience of the thousands of years that Western Civilization’s stories and legends have to offer–that they exist, and that they’ve lasted, because embracing them and assimilating their lessons enriches us, improves our lives, and makes us kinder, more courageous, and better people.

    So I make no apology for, am not in the least embarrassed by, and have no fear of, acknowledging, the fact that some of the best and most long-lasting character lessons of my (64-years and counting) life, have come, and still come, from works of faith, fantasy, and fiction. 

    And I am so, so sorry for the children whose early years don’t include them.

    • #7
    • August 12, 2019, at 4:55 PM PDT
    • 11 likes
  8. Steve C. Member
    There is nothing better than true love in the whole world. Except a nice MLT. Mutton, lettuce, and tomato when the mutton is nice and lean and the lettuce is nice and crisp. Ohhh you can’t beat it.
    • #8
    • August 12, 2019, at 8:28 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  9. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Moderator

    Andrew Miller: If you take away the stories that people used to live by – stories of heroes and happy endings, of honour, honesty, and truth, and yes, of true love – then what alternatives do they turn to instead? And what follows from that?

    The story of Job?…

    Perhaps the meat of Job’s story (the prologue and epilogue seem almost beside the point) is the first postmodernist story in the Western canon. Postmodernism tends to get a bad rap on the right, for a reason I think this guy puts pretty well:

    The postmodern understanding is that the world doesn’t “make sense” on a human scale and in human terms

    I think we should read postmodern-style criticism of science as referring primarily to its inability to give us answers on the scale and of the kind we want. But if that’s fed to a generation who’s never believed such a thing to begin with, we risk overapplying the criticisms to a contemporary version of science that isn’t guilty of the same hubris and a rationality that isn’t the mid-century straw version[7].

    What does it mean to hear, in difficult-to-interpret form, that there is no overarching plan or pattern to life, history and everything for a generation who didn’t experience a society where everyone acted as if there were? The hyperpragmatic rationalization and technological optimism common in the 1950s and ’60s seem cartoonish today, and to me it always has. And the premodern ideas of people being born into social classes and This Is How It’s Supposed To Be, or the world viewed through the lens of The Great Chain of Being etc. are positively exotic.

    Saying “don’t think you know everything” to someone who don’t think they do risks coming over as “don’t think you know anything”. It certainly did for me. This is bad.

    Pointing out the limitations of science, rationality and objectivity is fine, and such criticism is often valid and extremely important. But it is, to use the terminology from The Signal and the Corrective a corrective to naivety, not a viable stance by itself. And if you get to learn a corrective without first absorbing what it’s meant to be a corrective to, you’re going to hear it the wrong way. It doesn’t have the effect it’s meant to have and it isn’t among the top ten things most of us actually need to hear[8]. [bolding added]

    Think of the Grand Narrative the story (or unstory) of Job is part of: the Biblical Narrative. Job’s story is evidently meant to add to the Grand Narrative, not negate it. Else why not conveniently exclude it from the Grand Narrative?

    This world doesn’t always make sense on a human scale and in human terms. Not even the God who saves us always does. And yet the Christian story of the incarnation is that, even so, sometimes God does come to us, to be understood on terms accessible to us (although even then it’s not complete understanding, going by what Jesus himself says in the Gospels).

    Sometimes life is absurd. People vary in how much of their lives is lived in the absurdity –and importantly, not all of this variation is by choice. Since life contains both kinds of stories — both our Grand Narratives and the unstories where our precious Grand Narratives fail — it makes sense for us to need both kinds of stories.

    The mistake is not in including stories of absurdity — which are stories many people desperately need — but in excluding the other stories. So, let’s not.

    Let’s be greedy and have all the stories :-)

    • #9
    • August 13, 2019, at 11:31 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  10. Percival Thatcher

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):

    Sometimes life is absurd. People vary in how much of their lives is lived in the absurdity –and importantly, not all of this variation is by choice. Since life contains both kinds of stories — both our Grand Narratives and the unstories where our precious Grand Narratives fail — it makes sense for us to need both kinds of stories.

    The mistake is not in including stories of absurdity — which are stories many people desperately need — but in excluding the other stories. So, let’s not.

    Let’s be greedy and have all the stories :-)

    The post-modern understanding is virtually indistinguishable from what they would call the pre-modern understanding. It is not that we don’t understand now, it is that we can’t understand ever.

    Until we get the whole ordinances of heaven thing scoped out. Then it’ll be easy-peasy.

    • #10
    • August 13, 2019, at 11:41 AM PDT
    • 6 likes