Recently I told a story at my home church where I introduced the concept of "the fairy-tale controversy".
The genre of fairy-tale can be described as:
"a short narrative often used for children - often beginning with the phrase “Once upon a time …” - the story is often set in a far-away kingdom or forest, where human characters interact with magical or mystical beings. The good side ultimately triumphs over evil, and the promise of a happily ever after ending is realised.”
In the story, it was argued that the way in which the good news message of Jesus is communicated often resembles the story-line of a fairy-tale - where:
“The familiar canvas of the FAIRY TALE leads us through the battle between GOOD & EVIL and leads us to a life of HAPPILY EVER AFTER.”
Sure, the use of the term "fairy-tale" is a little controversial, but the point is that the canvas of the story we're telling has been smaller than what our culture seems to require.
When we've been condensing compelling stories to pamphlets, comic strips, and perhaps the odd feature film, our culture is exploring the wonder of deeper character development and morally complex plot lines found in film franchises and extended TV series.
It's a bewildering contradiction to observe a generation who have no trouble in binge-watching entire seasons on Netflix, when they are accused of lacking the ability to span their attention beyond 3 minutes.
Could it be that in the midst of our fleeting SnapChat stories, deep down we long for a larger canvas?
Which brings us to the 'modern epic':
"A long narrative poem written in elevated style, in which heroes of great historical or legendary importance perform valorous deeds. The setting is vast in scope, covering great nations, the world, or the universe, and the action is important to the history of a nation or people."
An epic shows us that we long to immerse ourselves (perhaps even escape) into the lives of the characters over an extended period of time and journey with them to shift the culture of a community, city or nation - as if we are writing history with them - where:
"The broader canvas of the MODERN EPIC leads us through the landscape of MORAL COMPLEXITY and leads us to the experience of TRANSCENDENCE."
If we moved from the canvas of 'fairy-tale' to that of 'modern epic' when it comes to the story of God ... what would that look like?