Whether we are thinking about The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, or The Avengers, it’s worth considering why some stories so easily capture our interest and motivate people to part with their time and money in record numbers? Stories sell, even in a down economy.
In an essay in Wayfaring: Essays Pleasant and Unpleasant, the always worth reading, Alan Jacobs, reflects on why Harry Potter so effectively snared the attention of so many. Jacobs theorizes that Rowling wrote a blockbuster because she:
- Created characters people really care about.
- Wrote suspenseful plots, so that you really want to know how it’s all going to come out.
- Created a whole imaginative world that people love to inhabit, even after they already know what happens in the stories.
“Many writers,” says Jacobs, “can do one of those things; a few can do two; hardly any can achieve all three. (Tolkien is one of them, which is why he also, though a very different and much greater writer than Rowling, is equally beloved.) It’s the combination that makes [Rowling] special.”
In my mind, Hunger Games, achieved the first two of Jacobs’ three criteria. It was so effective in creating characters we care about, and a suspenseful plot, that it was a blockbuster. But it missed #3. Who would want to visit that world? No one in his or her right mind. But as someone (see m.l.) once sang, “two out of three ain’t bad.”
These three criteria in mind, it is no wonder that the Bible is the number one best seller of all time. It is about the most incredible, beautiful, breathtaking One in all of eternity, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is about many others we care about, whether David and Jonathan, Daniel and his friends, or Joseph. And it ends in a real place where those who know Christ will soon be in His presence.
This summer at The Red Brick Church, we will consider key stories in Our Story. We won’t dissect them like they’re laboratory frogs, rather we will en-joy them for the truth they are, and we can be sure that they’ll be about people we care about; we will want to see how the plot unfolds; and surely they point to a real world we all long to visit.
Our church’s sermons are available online.