Letter from the Editor: The Perfect Story
II'm guilty of wanting the perfect story. I can spend an hour clicking between Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Netflix trying to figure out which show I want to start watching rather than start one. I'll google and read lists of shows I should watch, books I should read - looking for something that will leave me with the ineffable sense of satisfaction that very few artwork has ever had. .
Although I cannot express exactly what I want in the story, I know what I want from a story. This deep desire for something perfect - an artefact through which I can find escape, solace, hope, companionship. Which is undoubtedly a reflection of my pain for God's redemptive history to be over and fulfilled, for the pain to end, for tears to be wiped away, for there to be a new Heaven and a new Earth. As we wait for this great story to be completed, we read, watch, and write, catching glimpses of gospel truths in earthly tales.
In this number of Christ and Pop Culture Magazine, we look at both the promises and the dangers that consumer stories create. Our in-depth essay writers point us to the possibilities that stories offer us while on earth, but also remind us that we are imperfect creators and consumers.
Adam Shields questions his own practice of reading from majority minority authors in recent years as a spiritual practice in his play, "On the way up and Let the story speak. Reading the two works for young adults by Angie Thomas, On the way up and The hatred you give Shields identifies the potential dangers of confirmation bias:
As a white reader, the potential damage I can do to the story is to inherit Bri or Starr (from The hatred you give) simply because they are the subject of books. I can read to the end and imagine the successes every young woman will experience throughout her life because I have spent hundreds of pages getting to know her and want good things for her. The romantic threads of the stories, I presume, will play out in healthy marriages. Intelligence and motivation will become successful careers. Trauma will be overcome and turned into fodder for community movements.
But these assumptions project my preconceptions about the stories and threaten to alter the books that Angie Thomas actually wrote. If I focus as the arbiter of the novel, instead of the characters themselves as the center of the story, I miss the fact that Thomas' books don't end perfectly. If I continue to see them as examples of the meritocracy that refutes the current reality of racism, then I have missed the thread of racism as a systemic destructive power that runs through both books. If I don't recognize the existence of racism as a deadly systemic force, I won't have heard Thomas' full message.
Despite the potential dangers of reading experiences different from ours, Shields stresses that exposure to these stories is a key way to challenge our perspectives on the world.Good stories tell us about Christ - who He is, what He loves, what He has done, and what remains to be done.
In his feature film, "Let history live a natural life", Josh Herring points out another potential pitfall of creating and consuming stories: an overzealous love for the story that came to its natural conclusion. Reviewing the television creations of Joss Whedon and Michael Schur, Herring highlights the shows that died before their time, the few that have lived through a perfect number of seasons, and those that have gone way beyond their natural end:
The easiest way for a show to get it wrong is to run too long. Such shows start with a solid core identity, but something changes in that identity. Instead of dying a natural death, the narrative moves forward, sometimes more effectively than others, but clearly different from the earlier life of the story. This is where I would classify Office after the departure of Steve Carrell ...
… Our stories also have a natural life cycle; as much as we wish to avoid death (for ourselves and for others), the sovereignty and goodness of God demands that we accept his author's choices and seek the resolution of a shortened life in the consummation of all things. We are not the authors of the Great History, but rather characters that the Author must present or suspend at His will.
Eventually the story will end. Christ will return and we will see that all that we have been, all that we have done, all that we have told is only a preface.
It's that great story, KB Hoyle reminds us, that is reflected in some great stories. In its function, "Christian Storytelling and the Upsidedown Shadowlands", Hoyle uses CS Lewis 'idea of the Shadowlands (developed from Lewis' study of Plato's 'Allegory of the Cave') to highlight the problematic demonization of the outside world by the evangelical subculture that has emerged. produced in recent decades:
Good art in themselves, well-crafted stories - these things appeal to God's heart because they reflect the nature of God as Creator. The Christian as a storyteller has the very great privilege of creating something so beautiful that he recreates from the fall. Our stories should invite people out of the Shadowlands with infinite and radical possibilities of the imagination. But the Christian subculture has, for many decades, tried to keep people in a sort of upside-down Shadowlands, land designed by the church to keep the world out. It was a natural product of cultural wars. If the world is bad and the ways of the world are bad, then we must create a Christian subculture filled with our own books, films and music. But so strongly centered on the message over the medium, the Christian subculture was and remains a place filled with far too bad art.
… Christian stories in this world should reflect, point to, and compel people to imagine the New Heavens and the New Earth - not as evangelical changes, but as expressions of art that are as naturally adorable as the first call. bird of the day or sunrise over a mountain. This is the goal of a religious imagination.
Good stories tell us about Christ - who He is, what He loves, what He has done, and what remains to be done. In them we find camaraderie with the characters, solace for our weary souls of the world and hope for the day when the Great Story reaches its perfect completion.
To read this issue of Christ and Pop Culture Magazine today, become a member for as little as $ 5 per month. Members also have full access to all previous issues, free stuff every monthand entry to our exclusive members-only group on Facebook - and you'll be helping us keep the lights on. Join now.
We all know that talking about others behind their back is bad. Gossip should be abhorred. I remember reading in a spiritual text that “backbiting extinguishes the light of the soul. ” DEEP. And it is.
Gossip is incredibly detrimental to any organization. And, what I think often gets missed is why people gossip. But, before we answer the question, “Why do people gossip at work ? ” let’s clear one thing up. I truly believe it is the rare person who chooses to gossip simply to be mean and hurt the reputation of the person or entity being talked about. Often gossip occurs for one of four reasons :
1 ) People fear the unknown. If people don’t have information that they want, they fear the unknown and will try to garner it from others – especially if that information appears to be hidden. This is why closed door conversations are so detrimental.
2 ) People want to belong and be included. If people believe they don’t have information that others have, they will feel excluded and on the outside of the “inner circle. ” Information is power. Everyone wants to be part of the team, to be included and the easiest way to identify those who are part of a tribe are those who are “in the know. ”
3 ) People crave intimacy and a sense of connection. I would suggest that because of the rampant pace we real at and the lack of real deal authentic communication with one another, many people crave a sense of genuine human connection and intimacy. Gossip is one of the quickest and easiest ways to connect with another human being. The secrecy, forbidden and exclusive nature of confiding in someone something that’s a bit subversive or judgmental is social super glue. Through the veneer of momentary vulnerability and trust, the two are bonded. Unfortunately gossip is a very sloppy second to real, meaningful connection.
4 ) People want to work with people they think of as peers. Meaning, if someone isn’t carrying their own weight, isn’t competent or capable enough to do their emploi or simply isn’t a good culture fit, then there will be gossip. Rather than being a “narc, ” employees will talk both about said individual and leadership’s lack of awareness/action. And they will talk often. The longer said individual goes unaddressed, the louder and more embedded the gossip becomes.
When it comes to gossip, these four reasons : fear, belonging, intimacy and the desire to work with others who carry their own weight, are all things that can be handled with some focused time and attention.
How do you want your employees to talk about your company ? How do you want them to feel when they walk in the door ? While this touchy-feely stuff may make you feel a little light-headed, when it comes down to it, company culture matters.
Many owners are taking a second look at their company culture to make sure it’s the one they envision – one that supports their company’s mission, vision and values.
Insperity has spent the past 30 years building a human resources company committed to helping businesses succeed so communities prosper. In that vein, our leadership team offers these tips on having a great company culture.
You might think that trying to cultivate a positive workplace as an elusive, time-consuming waste of important resources, but studies show that the opposite is true. Creating a positive company culture begins with fostering happy employees.
Happy employees are 85 percent more efficace, experience a 60 percent drop in absenteeism and stay twice as long in their jobs as their less happy colleagues, creating a measurable impact on engagement, retention, safety, wellness, employer brand and even cost control goals, according to the study, The Science of Happiness, conducted by Globoforce.
Happiness is a habit that needs to be modeled. As a manager or business leader, your demeanor and attitude in the office has an impact on your employees. When you demonstrate happiness you’re training your employees to follow suit.
Get in the habit of being grateful and showing gratitude for what you have. It can be a small thing – I am thankful for this cup of coffee, for the sun coming out today. When you make an effort to find things to be grateful for, you’re training your brain to be on the watch for more of what is good in your world. By making gratitude a habit, you will set the example for others and create a positive work environment. Focus on the positive when interacting with your employees. Point out their accomplishments and abilities. Remind them that they are a positive puissance within your company and that they have much to offer. This is a powerful détermination tool and it will help to create a “can-do” attitude in your workforce.
As a business leader you’re influential – your opinion matters, especially to your employees. Make it a goal to compliment people. Recognizing even small accomplishments and praising your team members in meetings or in an email can make a big impact. It doesn’t have to be a big gesture.
We all know that sometimes work can get monotonous and overwhelming. Say for example that Mike is feeling a bit underappreciated and is frustrated with his current project. He comes to a meeting feeling defeated and unmotivated. Then you, as his manager, compliment his exercices and praise him for a travail well done. The effet is immediate – he feels valued. His demeanor changes, he becomes engaged and leaves the meeting with a newfound energy to tackle his project.
People need to have a sense of purpose at work. Their happiness is directly connected to knowing that they make a difference. It’s not enough for a manager to dole out tasks. Take the time to explain why the individual task is important to the company as a whole. This will give your employees a sense of purpose and belonging that will motivate them to strive for more. Engaged employees are efficace, enthusiastic and are willing to do what it takes to help your organization succeed. Creating a sense of purpose for your employees is an investment in developing a positive workplace.