Yesterday Bolger talked about the subversive-ness of the parables.  Bolger got me going when he proposed that it was Jesus’ stories that were threatening to the establishment.  He stirred things up by retelling stories.  Jesus took the day to day norms of life and turned them on their head in the parables.  The people do not win who are expected to win.  Bolger compared this to stories or movies today where we have the normal story, and the lowly are included, the outcast saves the day, the person who works a little is rewarded as much as the one who works all day etc.  I think these are common themes in Western stories.  The underdog saves the day.  That has been exaggeratedly so of late with movies like Napoleon Dynamite and Juno.  At first I imagined this was just our Postmodern storyteller bent.  But no, in the end of the Modern era we see the Hobbits overcoming the greatest enemy in Lord of the Rings, or further back, Cinderella being honorable under oppression and then being raised up to a place of honor and authority.  I think that in many ways the West has been so influenced by the story of Jesus and the Bible that we don’t really like a story unless David beats Goliath.  I think we love the ending but we don’t like the process of getting there.  We love to see the underdog win, but initially we all cower and kowtow to the giant, or justify the behavior of the pious priest who passes the beaten down man on the road.  

Jesus was more subversive and revolutionary for living the stories He told.  Bolger didn’t say this, but he went there in his lecture by telling the story of people who were asking not, “how do we grow our church,” but “how do we embody the life of Christ as the church?”  That sort of application sounds hum drum when compared with tales of outcasts turned heros and street people being invited to the President’s ball.  But considering the implications gets kind of crazy.  Bolger told of one person who started a local church with those caught in homelessness, addiction and mental illness.  Let the revolution begin.

Another application of retelling stories I liked was when Bolger offhandedly commented that he and his wife were considering what it would take to subvert our cultural stories of sexuality in the minds of their children.  He said he would have to retell stories of whole and healthy sexuality for hours upon hours a week in order to compete with the stories that his kids are learning about sexuality by just living within our society.  I suppose he meant he needed to tell stories of patience, deep beauty, fidelity, selflessness and the like.  Living those stories is going to be the real subversion of course.