Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A Story

As I drove to work this morning, I listened to the score to the movie The Rock and was reminded, once again, of how great music tells a story. But this trite consideration bade me pause. What does it mean that we appreciate a rollicking story or a narrative piece of music? We, collectively as a race, must be able to tell a good story before we can truly appreciate one, and conversely we must be able to appreciate a good story - if you'll excuse the expression, the Greatest Story Ever Told - before attempting to tell one. We think of such things as literature, art, music - culture - as commonplace, and yet we find it nowhere else in nature. Perhaps those elephants and gorillas which, at zoos, have been given a paintbrush and proclaimed painters, perhaps they are still developing the skill of storytelling so that one day theirs too may be told. But humanity, at the moment, is strikingly different, in that we assemble words and musical notes and brush strokes into something that is greater than the sum of its parts. This collectively innate ability is not accidental. We have developed this ability in order to see our own existence as something which must, as a composite, become greater than the sum of its parts. Here, of course, is where the cynic sees pendantic philanthropy, but here is also where I see God. God bids us become "perfect, like your heavenly Father is perfect," to become one with the Tao, to become connected to the Atman and know "that art thou." God's creativity expresses itself through our own, and just as a talented author's story must lead us down a coherent path to a triumphant conclusion, so too must our story end in the redemption of all humanity to that state which is greater still than each of us can accomplish of our own accord.

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