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“The Universe is made of stories, not atoms.”
Muriel Ruykeyser

I recently read an ABC News story about Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  

Current thinking in certain circles of academia suggest…no, imply…no, actually insist that the story of Rudolph isn’t just an innocuous little Christmas fairytale anymore.  No, sir.  Now it’s considered a treatise—along with The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and A Charlie Brown Christmas—about Bullying.

Yes, my friends, Bullying.

“The whole community of the North Pole is into exclusion, not inclusion,” claims the one who actually used professorial credentials to come up with this bullying theory.   (This professor, by the way, shall remain nameless, as I refuse to give credit for ludicrous applications of collegiate facilities.)

He goes on to say that the cartoon scene where Hermey and Rudolph eventually run away together is a depiction of what actually happens as an “unintended consequence of bullying” in our schools today.

The lesson to writers, I suppose, is to be aware that the Political Correctness Patrol is on the prowl.  And, every word committed to print is subject to academic reinterpretation.  But, in seriously trying to wrap my head around this scholarly dissertation, what I’ve grasped is this—

All of us misguided souls who grew up with what we thought were benign holiday stories now have to come to the realization that they, in fact, harbor deeply troubling agendas of great sociological significance.  What we thought of as gentle, harmless yarns are, in fact, tales of maladjusted, anti-social, pathological behaviors.

Wow, and to think I also read Grimm’s fairytales when I was a kid.  Yikes!

Boggles the mind that I am not today a crazed old sociopath who lures innocent little boys and girls into my ovens?

I guess what this erudite exercise comes down to is
What is The Point of Story?

Why do we have stories?  What are stories meant to do?  Are they—just perhaps—sometimes meant to reinvent the world, to reveal a more magical world, a world different from the one in which we find ourselves?

Humans need to be entertained, and I think we often need to have our world revealed to us in imaginative ways.  C.S. Lewis was a master of other-worldly stories, as was Tolkien.

We also have an aesthetic need for expressive language.  If you want dry data, read a history book.  History tells us where we’ve been and what we’ve done…but history truly comes alive when it is told not through facts but through stories.

According to Donald Miller, author of A Million Miles In a Thousand Years, story is about character transformation.  “In every story, the protagonist is transformed.”

Thumbing through my Bible this morning at church, I came across the story of Jesus with the woman caught in adultery.  So, in light of this professor’s theories, was Jesus a bully when he said to the woman, “Go and sin no more”?  Or was he giving her a chance to transform her life?  Our lives, like her’s, are meant to change.  Our story on this earth is about character transformation.

Rudoph, the reindeer whose red nose guides Santa through the dark night, is a character transformed.  He has, through his story, what’s known as a character arc.  The Grinch, whose heart grows three sizes on Christmas Day, is a character transformed.

So, please, let us relax.  Let us enjoy all the wondrous and creative stories of life.  Let us not search for hidden political or sociological agendas in every written word.

God has given us the creative power to see and reflect and explain our world in imaginative imagery—in poetry, in metaphor, in allegory, in song.

Let us not destroy the gift of Story.