Monday, August 29, 2011


So I'm taking this class a friend of mine is teaching at Lenoir Rhyne University on Storytelling. Part of the class is to summarize weekly readings and blog about them, and I'll be posting that here. If you follow me, I hope you're ready for a resurgence of posts and listening to my irreverent banter in the realm of the study of narrative. For those of you in the class, please don't use me as a model for summaries, I'm doing my best, but have forgotten most of what I knew about formal writing...too many sermons and lesson plans. Ms. Bennett: It'll get better.
So I'm reading this article written by Susana Onega and Jose Angel Garcia Landa entitled: Narratology: An introduction. The article seems to be essentially divided into three parts. The first is an explanation and definition of Narratology in general (I know you're dying to hear that part, but patience is a virtue), a brief but wordy walk throught the various means of analysis used in Narratology (I read it with my dictionary app open, no kidding), and the ways that this realm of study has manifest through history.
Narrative, in a nutshell, is the "representation of a series of events." My favorite description from the reading is paraphrased as: "Using signs and symbols, either visual or aural, to represent a series of events connected through time and [the rules] of cause and effect." Narratology, therefore, is the study of the narrative using analytical approach. Forms of narrative are defined by history, culture, and method, and every narrative medium, from campfire stories to novels to movies to drama and beyond, requires a specific analytical approach. The narrative itself can be identifed by various parts. This includes the Text, or the actual written, drawn, filmed, dramatized or whatever method by which the story is told, the Fabula, the general gist of the story broken down to its basic elements, and the story itself, the concrete chain of events that keeps you up past bedtime and dreaming of your lunchbreak.
A fascinating concept I had never really thought about came in the analysis of the narrative. On one side is a horizontal approach to understanding the story. This means you pick apart the beginning, middle, and end, and find out what the story is saying. But more importantly (to me, at least) is a vertical analysis of the story. Vertical analysis requires seeing how deep you can go in finding parallels and meaning to the narrative itself. It opens up a world of meaning in the simplest of stories. From there, you delve into all sorts of ways to analyze a narrative: the person telling the story, the voice used, culture, etc.
As always, to understand narratology, we must understand where it came from. And these two very intelligent people went as far back as Plato, and came through modern understandings of studying the narrative. It was interesting to see the parrallels between literary analysis and artistic analysis, even so much as some of the movements are similar: Classical, Modernism, Formalism, Contemporary, etc. There was a common vein of argument about the difference between telling the story versus showing the story. Aristotle said, "an action should be treated artistically before it becomes a plot." Some people later tried something different, some people expounded on that concept, focusing on characters and experience or structure and complexity. It was very interesting to parallel the style of analysis as a reaction to world events at the time. Ancient Narrative was as epic as it could be made to be. The rise of the Industrial Revolution through the second World War brought a more complex, structured approach to narrative, more modern styles posit a myriad of theories behind various aspects of narrative.
It is ironic that the single fact in this article that raised my eyebrows the most is that Freud himself reasoned that "the whole process of the development of the self, as well as psychoanalytic therapy, was narratively structured." Now when I ask someone what their story is or someone asks me mine, it is a grand thing to think of the scope of research boiled down into one little question. I've never been a fan of Freud, but here he is at the center of my day to day work with youth. What's your story?
So based on all this, I'd really be interested to know if all of these mechanisms have changed your perspective on how you look at the narrative, at the stories around you. Which is most important to you, the structure of the work, or the effect on the reader? Which method excites you more, the horizontal analysis of a narrative, or a more vertical one?
(All quoted phrases taken from Narratology: An Introduction)

Friday, October 1, 2010


It was a Tuesday morning. The sterility of the hospital room contradicted the cold mist and dirt of the november morning. The mother was asleep, exhausted from a long labor and difficult pregnancy. A man knelt at the foot of the bed, praying for his wife, crying tears of joy at his acceptance of the new challenge of being both father and husband.
He stands, picks up his newborn baby daughter, and relaxes his arms as she settles into the warm embrace of her daddy. She stirs. Slowly eyes open that cannot yet recognize the world. He knows to her tiny mind he is just a mass of light and dark, but he bends his scraggly bearded head next to hers and whispers:
"Hi baby. I'm your daddy, your papa. I love you with all that I am and will give you all I have. I'll teach you to run, teach you to build things, teach you what to look for in a good guy."
He pulls his head away and looks at her deep brown eyes.
"I forgive you, my love. I forgive you for all the heartache you will cause. I forgive you for saying you hate me when you're 16 and I won't give you the car. I forgive you for all the wrong things you will ever do. I forgive you for breaking my heart when you'll finally choose another man to devote your life to. And I forgive you for ever doubting that you have the power to change the world."
Baby reached a tiny hand toward the deep bass of his voice. He settled a finger close to her and she grasped it and squeezed. A handshake of infinite love and support marks the opening act of the greatest journey he will ever take. He smiles. So does she. And then she drifts back to sleep, comforted and safe. In the arms of daddy.

-- Note to self: who is god to you? Why can't god be more human than you are? Open my eyes, that might see.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Give Your Best To Relationships

A boy and a girl were playing together. The boy had a collection of marbles. The girl had some sweets with her.

The boy told the girl that he will give her all his marbles in exchange for her sweets. The girl agreed. The boy kept the biggest and the most beautiful marble aside and gave the rest to the girl. The girl gave him all her sweets as she had promised.

That night, the girl slept peacefully. But the boy couldn’t sleep as he kept wondering if the girl had hidden some sweets from him the way he had hidden his best marble.

Moral of the story:
If you don’t give your hundred percent in a relationship, you’ll always keep doubting if the other person has given his/her hundred percent..

This is applicable for any relationship like love, employer-employee relationship etc., Give your hundred percent to everything you do and sleep peacefully.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Help for a missionary

My daily read from the bible today was acts 27. And can I tell you that it was words to hear for a person in the mission field! This chapter outlines the hell Paul and other prisoners went through on their way to italy. Nothing went right, the threat of death hung over everyone from both nature and their captors. And when everything seemed to hit rock bottom, Paul gave words of encouragement saying, "we're gonna make it! But the ship is doomed."
But the ship is doomed? What!? I mean really, all most high omnipotent one? We're out here working proclaiming and teaching and working and sweating and the very ship keeping us afloat is guaranteed doomed? It just means so much from this year and three months: your work is ok and you will deal with it all and come out on the end, but remember that it's the journey and the end result, not the ship- not security and wealth or peace or family or all those things you cling to. It's as if god says,"I'm gonna strip you bare, you'll go without food for 14 days, the centurions are gonna threaten you with death regularly, and you're gonna want to die rather than continue...but this is all part of my plan. And I won't let you die, because you are mine, you hear me? I've got you, so STOP TRYING TO CLING TO THE COMFORT OF YOUR OLD LIFE!!" and then I think god would add some cute admonishment like "genius" or "brilliance" to us.
But as I write this, I have lost the furniture in my house to the battle of Caribbean mold, sleeping on a matress on the floor, I've now witnessed five cars go down to repair or regulations, I have no idea how to crank out the massive volume of work on my to do list, and my personal life swings back and forth from solid to precarious. I can't help but feel like these guys in Acts 27, but I read it and hear Paul say, "it's gonna look up, we're gonna make it...but the ship is doomed. Get over the ship, ladies and gentlemen."

-- Note to self: my ship is the preconcieved notion that even though I'm in America, things will work like they always do. But they don't. It takes two weeks and a lot of work to get a second day mail package, and people just don't read the fancy email newsletters and websites you create. Deal with it, that's your ship, and it's gonna sink...find a new way to get where you're going, and recommit to listening to Gods voice in scripture direct your path.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I think this speaks enough on it's own

1. When I say I love you, I mean that I feel a deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection, desire to offer attentive care and protection toward a you. I am filled with a feeling of intense desire and attraction towards you. I feel a sense of underlying oneness with you that fills my heart with joy.

2. I give my love to you freely, as an expression of my own passion, and I do so without any expectation of your feelings toward me.

3. When I say “I love you” it doesn’t mean that I feel ownership over you, or that I have expectations for your behavior, or rigid ideas of our future together.

4. I love you for what you are now, not for what I hope you will someday become. I have no plans to change you. I do, however, support your own desire to grow.

5. I respect your right to you having your own feelings, and to your need to learn your own lessons in life. If I can help, I will wait to be asked, and otherwise will allow you to go through the experiences that you need and choose.

6. I will do my best to be in touch with my own feelings and desires, and communicate them to you without any expectation that you will act on them.

7. I am happy with or without you. My bliss is my responsibility alone.

8. I leave you free to be yourself: to think your thoughts, indulge your tastes, follow your inclinations, behave in ways that you decide are to your liking. I have no right to judge or change your behavior.

9. I desire that you be happy. If your time spent with me is not joyful, then you are welcome to go on your way with my love and support still with you.

10. I recognize that we are two separate whole people, who have chosen to walk side-by-side through life for a time. I rejoice in the ecstasy of the present-moments we share together.

-- Note to self: remember to act with love, not desire or need. There's a fine line.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Doors and windows

It has been said that god never closes one door without opening another. It has also been said that you draw to you those things which resonate within your soul. It has also been said that God does not bring you to something you cannot overcome. Or what kills you makes you stronger.
I think all that is amazing advice - when you're not in the midst of the mud that describes it all. It's so easy or people on the outside of our situations to say, "keep it up, suck it up, whatever" but while in the midst of it, you are giving everything you've got just to keep breathing!
Sometimes we need a break. Sometimes we need to fight. In my experience, all of those "open doors" seem to happen when I'm just too selfish to acknowledge what's really going on around me. Those moments in which I disconnect for defensive purposes are always the times when I get knocked around and there's been a lot of both lately.
So what's my advice to the closed door? What's the best thing to do for a situation that god has led you to but wil not break you?
Jump out the dang window man.
Seriously! Break convention. Quit thinking in the box, get new energy by trying the thing you don't expect to work. Maybe god closed the door and brought you to the tough spot to make you jump out the window?

-- Note to self: to get something I've never experienced before, I mist do something I've never tried. Hold my hand, I'm jumping out the window...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Why we do what we do

1. Because each week I get an hour and a half with over 100 students of mixed race and religion and teach them the gospel message. Chapel services are aparrently te talk of the high school. Yes dear ones, teenagers looking forward to church! Of course, using beyonce and r Kelly for music helps, lol.
2. Because god has a lesson to teach you. A guy walked up to me yesterday, asked for some money. I didn't have a cent on me, and after a short repartee, he relieved himself on the street, and walked off. I just picked up the Indiana Jones bag, and quietly removed myself from the area of te growing puddle. I walked away, thinking, "god, open my eyes to see the face of Christ on that man, and surround him with your grace."
3. Because we are called. This isn't a job, and the lives I've touched and changed in 14 months has humbled me dearly. I feel a level of sadness knowing that the trials of this church on these islands is one that I cannot fix, and I must do what I can with whom god brings to me or guides me to.
4. Because the gospel is real. Seeing older parishioners of the churches I serve voice an inability to talk to others about their faith is truly heartbreaking. What have we been doing for fifty years if our elders can't express faith without reciting empty, typical, Christian propaganda? The discipleship program I'm running at the cathedral is mind blowing, and we're going to try a day long conference of it for all episcopalians in te islands in December. But I cannot bring blessing into houses that do not welcome it.
5. Because we weep with the heart of God. We are not self serving, but see all experiences as a chance to see christ in another. When god is hurting because of a situation, we weep too. And we do what we can, even if it isn't as far reaching as we might hope.

-- Note to self: remember why you do this work, and don't let anyone else chip away the mortar that holds your resolve. When it's over and you're coles elsewhere, you'll know. And even though the journey has had disappointments, it has also had profound triumph. Don't forget why you do what you do.