What in us drives us to create stories? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
I have my own section at TheologyWeb.com and I invite you to check it out. A few days ago, I made a post about the problem of good vampires. What I am finding amazing about this is that there is a real discussion going on. Sometimes, it’s incredible to see what people comment on.
Just now I was watching The Big Bang Theory with one character asking about zombies. What happens if they don’t get human flesh to eat? They can’t starve to death because they’re already dead. I’m also going through Smallville again. This is my favorite series and started with two guys saying “Let’s tell an origins story of Superman.”
Comic books are well-known for creating massive universes as well and how many times have we had movies about the origin of Batman? These stories have so many installments to them that fans debate amongst themselves for each franchise what is and isn’t canon. You can have contradictory things happen in the stories so much so that DC created the Multiverse which led to several of its own problems.
In the gaming world, I am listening to the audiobook The Greatest Stories Every Played. Talk to some of my fellow gamers and what do we remember about a lot of our favorite games? The story behind them. Would that I could have my memory wiped and go through Final Fantasy IV again for the first time.
Why do we do this? Why do we debate about things that we all know don’t exist? People debating the Legend of Zelda franchise or Marvel comics or vampires aren’t doing so because they believe these exist. Despite that, they debate them and the debates can get awfully heated. Philosophy papers can easily be written on these topics. Indeed, if you want to see some of this, just go to Amazon and type in Pop Culture and Philosophy and see all the books that come up.
As far as I am aware, we are the only species that creates stories. Do we really do that for survival? Doubtful. It is possible to survive without stories, though most of us would consider that an impoverished life. You don’t need to read fiction, but many of us spend our time investing in a world of fiction. How many people can tell you every facet of The Lord of the Rings, for instance?
Lord of the Rings also led to popular role-playing games, including Dungeons and Dragons. Why do we play these? Because we like to use our imaginations and tell stories, but not only that, we want to be in on the story ourselves sometimes. We want to think about what we would do if we were in that situation. It’s easy to watch a movie or TV show or read a book and say to the character from the comfort of our homes, “Don’t go there! Don’t open that door! Don’t trust that guy!” Role-playing games can sometimes be the closest we get to making the choice ourselves and in the case of a game like D&D, if we’re playing with friends and not an electronic version, we can’t think of what we did the last time we played the game. Every time is new.
Today, I was telling another student about my research into video games and Christianity and how I think I am going to focus on stories and quests. Most people who are gamers like myself, we enjoy our hobby, but we also want more. We want real-life adventures more. I suspect this is why men watch the movies we do. We want to be the Avengers or we want to be James Bond.
Here’s another reason I suspect we make stories, which have been going on as long as we know of. Deep down, I think we all know that there is more than just this world. We do make some stories to explain reality, like the Just So stories, but we also make stories to tell for a longing that we have that reality is greater than what we see. A materialistic world is boring. We want a world of life.
I wonder if this could be behind the end-times hysteria many people have. Could it be we so much want to be a part of a greater story that we are convinced we are living in the last generation, even though numerous generations before us said that? Surely we must play a part in this? Could it also be why the belief is so prevalent that God speaks to us individually regularly? Surely I must play a part in all of this! Surely God has something for me and I need to find out what it is.
We can say social media contributes to this by making so many of us narcissists, but social media doesn’t create the idea. It just gives it a place to shine more prevalently. Social media too often just reveals who we really already are. Why do many of us do and say things that we wouldn’t do in person? Because on social media, it’s easy to put on a mask.
Everyone already has a story. I have said before that I think you could make a major motion picture of anyone’s life, and if you have a good director and cast, it would be a major hit. It’s incredible to think how much we are spending every year making games and movies and TV shows all because people love stories!
So I will be watching the debate on vampires and the discussion back and forth and enjoying it. I will continue playing some great new stories waiting to see what happens. However, I hope to continue living out my story and remembering that the story is not about me. It’s really His story. I just play a small part in His story, but I hope it’s a contribution that will make it better.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)