In a masterful essay on the power of story, Dr. David and Erin Walsh wrote: “Whoever tells the stories defines the Culture.” (http://tinyurl.com/ff-walsh)
I think immediately of stories that are cast broadly through television and the Internet. What stories are defining our culture? What stories are people hearing about the Roman Catholic Church? What stories are they not hearing? After all, basic public relations class teaches, “If you don’t tell your story, someone else will.”
And just as importantly, what are the stories that are not broadcast, but are still shared to effectively define our Catholic culture? And how are they shared?
A youth minister once shared the story of running into one of his former youth group members. The former member shared that she gained so much from him during his time at the parish. He wanted to know what he said that was so life-changing so he could keep doing it in his ministry.
“Was it when I taught [such and such]?” he asked.
“No,” she replied.
“Well, how about when we studied [such and such]?”
“No, no, no!” she laughed.
“Well, what was it then?”
“It was how much you loved your wife.”
That story reminds me of the ministry of Pope Francis as told through television, radio, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube… you get the idea. Although he has many words to share, it’s the stories of what he is doing that captures the imagination of so many and, I believe, defines our Catholic culture.
We have a story to tell. The Reign of God is here and also coming, and we disciples of Christ are called to learn about it, proclaim it, and make it present. If we echo stories about what we and other people do to make God’s Reign real, it shapes our culture.
I’m not a great storyteller, but I can find and share online stories that are captivating enough to define our culture. I’m not a gifted creator of media, but I can find tools that help us tell little mini-stories of our experience as disciples to help define our culture. These tools can create something from a simple photo, maybe with a little text on it (think meme) to something a that takes a little more time and talent. I love this story of faith and where God’s love is found, by Wendy J. Francisco:
God and Dog Video
My hope is that my contributions to this blog space will share stories, and tools for storytelling, to help us, as a Catholic Community, continue telling our Story well.
We have a story to tell! And we have a culture to define!