Friday, May 20, 2011


I just finished with a book. Notice that I did not say I "finished" it, but instead that I finished with it. Such is the plight of the borrower at the public library. One can always try.

And try I did. The book I'm talking about is The Seven Basic Plots by Christopher Booker. While it was amazingly helpful, I couldn't get through it, and it's not the first book I've failed to finish. I've been known to be a bit of a book whore, truth be told--I'll take five of them home with me on a given day and be faithful to one or none, I don't care. If they don't grab me right, I have better things to do with my life.

And this one grabbed me right. It's just that I ran out of time on it. It would be a great addition to my reference shelf, even with the obscene amount of copy errors it contains, because it resounds so deeply and truly in regard to story. Capital S Story, actually.

Given my lifelong immersion in Biblically sourced values, to include my perspectives on philosophy and religion, I came away from this book with a rather large exclamation mark over myself. Mr. Booker makes a case for the existence of seven basic plots, or archetypes of story, that define every book ever written, every fireside ghost tale ever told. But he also makes a case for these seven being types of each other, and gives examples of books that are exemplary of all of them at once.

Tolkein's Lord of the Rings is one fine example. While this work is monumental (and I would argue remains as a singular representative of the fantasy genre), there is another story that resounds as The Archetype of all History.

That, in my opinion, is the Gospel. The story of creation, the fall, the flood, the giving of the law of Moses, exiles, ongoing redemptions, prophets, priests, judges, kings, and the innocent babe born right into the poverty of the midst of all of it, that hearkened back to a time before time, and the plan of redemption that we can see from here near the end has been interwoven throughout all of it--stuns the imagination and challenges any denial of its veracity. It actually takes a lot more energy to deny the truth of the Gospel than to accept it as the simple truth it is.

To me, Booker's work on the archetypes of story is yet another witness to the Glory of God, among millions of others that, wittingly or not, have verified the truth of the Original Story. One of the most amazing parts of it is that 1) the story is ongoing, and 2) we are participants. And what else can be said? I am intensely warmed and encouraged by all of it.