If you have never listened to “The Danger of the Single Story” by Chimamanda Adichie, you owe it to yourself. It is chock full of such wisdom and necessary reminders. I have listened to it several times and each time I am struck all over again how important it is to let go of ‘single stories’, yet how easy it is to fall prey.
This is why I have encouraged friends to ‘rethink’ Christianity. So many have really only been exposed to a ‘single story’ Christianity. Often a sad, sad story. One of judgement, hatred and narrow-mindedness. Narrow-mindedness is much different from the ‘narrow way’ mind you. I had to add that because someone actually tried to say to me once that those two phrases were synonymous. 🙂
If I hadn’t grown up with examples of love, grace, forgiveness, I too may have identified Christianity as a single story, something I’d have no interest in. Some examples I endured were far from the Gospel and very heavy on rules. As a teenager in summer church camp I was confused by kids that ended up at the alter during chapel night after night, as if it took repeated trips to get God to forgive their sins, or maybe they just could not get through a day without breaking ‘the rules.’ (Side note: Many years later my daughter Alli, at about age 14, had an almost identical experience at a youth retreat. I will always be grateful to her youth pastor, Daniel Eagan, who was right there to quell her confusion.) Thankfully there were enough examples of love, grace & forgiveness to keep me intrigued. I was probably 18 years old before I gave up wondering about how Christianity worked with all the rules that were looming out there and I have been on a quest ever since to simplify my beliefs away from that single story. I have found in the midst of theological/doctrinal chaos that if I just look up I’ll see the Gospel of Jesus and everything else is superfluous. Btw, Gospel = good news and Jesus + Nothing = Everything.
As Chimamanda says in her story, a single story creates stereotypes and robs people of their dignity. It also creates divide by highlighting our differences and not our similarities. If people only knew David (the Biblical one) as a murderer & adulterer and they accepted that single story, they would never know him as a “man after God’s own heart.” They would never get that God’s love reaches us at our lowest and at our worst. It’s that kind of love that draws all men/women to Him.
And just because it’s election season I’ll throw this one in. Throwing phrases around saying, “those Liberals” or “those Conservatives” creates a single story. And a single story NEVER tells the whole story. And it continues to divide, leading to hatred and judgement of others.
Everyone has a multifaceted story and stories do matter. They can empower and change other’s lives. “There is never a single story… when we reject the single story we regain a kind of paradise.”
“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”