Bibliotheca: $1 Mil Raised and Why I Think It Matters
“People love stories. People still love to get lost in a good story.”
Those are the opening words to a brilliantly made video for a brilliantly conceived project called “Bibliotheca.”
The endeavor, dreamt up by my friend and fellow Judson University alum Adam Greene, has literally taken the interwebs by figurative storm – shattering the minimum goal by leaps and bounds, reaching $1 million today. If you haven’t visited the Kickstarter page yet, I cannot encourage you enough to do so. It may very well be the best 7:46 of your day.
The project, featured now in countless places, including posts of the Washington and Huffington persuasion, has created a buzz that is undeniable – downright global, in fact.
And at the center of this struck chord is a right fixation on the power of story.
Exactly why has this resonated with so many? I think the reasons are far more profound than many of us, myself included, ever considered.
It’s been asserted by some that the Bible is roughly:
10% – Propositional
15% – Poetry
75% – Narrative
Unfortunately today, many churches have reversed this biblical pattern to something more like: 10% – designed to capture imagination; 90% – purely instructive. In my opinion, however- of all the communities on the planet – the church should be at the forefront capturing and igniting the imagination of the world. Storytelling should drip from our lips. For the Christ follower, inviting others to engage with the story of God’s redemption is absolutely central.
In my own experience, I’ve found that sayings like “we all have a story” have become cliché and trite for many of us and perhaps fail to reach us at the heart level. We struggle to truly engage the greater narrative.
C.S. Lewis puts it brilliantly:
“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.”
But I repeatedly miss this. Without a profound awareness of God’s story around me, days can easily turn into tasks lists to be completed and accomplishments to grasp.
In the rush of daily life, we look at many things but see very little.
What I believe my brother Adam understands so well is that art at its best is a shared experience. Narrative brings to life what statistics cannot. Story ignites in ways achievements never will.
I think there are deeply rooted reasons for this.
Neurologically, it is our neo-cortex that corresponds with our rationale and analytic thought and language. It’s here that many of us land when it comes to engaging biblical text. It controls the “what” functions – facts, figures, benefits, and features. But what it doesn’t drive is behavior. It doesn’t move the heart.
That function is housed in the limbic brains.
It is here that we are moved, stirred, that “feeling in our gut” that many of us know so well. It is here that the “why” component is communicated with – and it is here that I believe story has the greatest impact. It is here that our hearts begin to see.
With that in mind, it’s important to remember that the Bible is not a book, but a library of books. All sorts of different types of writing in it: history, letters, sermons, songs, poems, love letters – geographical surveys, architectural specifications, travel diaries, population statistics, family trees. Some intended to be memorized and recited, yes – but much of it meant to be felt, experienced, dove deeply into and encountered.
We forget that, while the Bible is certainly written for us – it was not written to us.
It’s obvious to us that people need to translate the language for us – it’s much less obvious that we need people to translate the culture for us. To get the most out of the Bible – we need to try to enter their world.
To do that, we need story.
A $1 million campaign for a project like this shows me that there is a deeper longer for story – to fully enter in. As Adam eludes to – the shift in evangelicalism to see scripture solely as something to be memorized and studied (as evidenced by much of our current design and approach), has left many with a growing hunger to re-engage with a deeper storyline, a richer narrative.
And why? Why should we concern ourselves with this discussion at all?
Because at the beginning, and at the center, is a God who creates. A God who tells a story, the story of redemption. A God who, in deep entrepreneurial vigor speaks – and the whole universe comes into existence as a response to his Word. And, in my opinion, it’s no exaggeration to say:
“Exactly how you begin the story will inescapably shape the story you’re telling”
Telling a story about someone who builds something in six days is a temple story – about God making for himself a place to dwell – and the last thing one would do is after construction was complete was put an image of that god into the temple.
God put humans into the construct as a way of both reflecting his own love into the world – and drawing out the praise and glory from the world back to himself. We are his viceroys, his image bearers. We create because he creates. We design, dream, dance. We tell the story.
Donald Miller puts it well in his famous work, “Blue Like Jazz”
“And so my prayer is that your story will have involved some leaving and some coming home, some summer and some winter, some roses blooming out like children in a play. My hope is your story will be about changing, about getting something beautiful born inside of you about learning to love a woman or a man, about learning to love a child, about moving yourself around water, around mountains, around friends, about learning to love others more than we love ourselves, about learning oneness as a way of understanding God. We get one story, you and I, and one story alone. God has established the elements, the setting and the climax and the resolution. It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn’t it?” – Donald Miller
Christians must celebrate its own story and creatively show it to a word-weary and biblically illiterate world. Thank you, Adam – for inspiring so many of us to tell a deeper story.
And so I ask each of you – what story are you telling with you life?
*Interview with Mr. Adam Lewis Greene to come!