In his book Storytelling, Imagination, and Faith: [ref]William Bausch. Storytelling: Imagination and Faith, 29-80.[/ref] William Bausch relates thirteen characteristics of a good story. These story characteristics are:
- Stories provoke curiosity and compel repetition. Good stories are gripping. We want to hear them over and over again.
- Stories unite us in a holistic way to nature. A good story causes us to feel connected to nature and for a believer to the God of creation of nature. That connection makes us have a feeling of holism.
- Stories are a bridge to one’s culture, one’s roots. We have common stories that evoke our identity to past generations and our roots. We have clan, tribe, culture, family, and individual stories. It is even possible that an outsider can get a glimpse of a culture by looking at its
- Stories bind us to the universal, human family. We are puzzled especially as believers to discover that other cultures have similar motifs (like the flood stories in the Bible and in other cultures). These stories could have a binding effect and empower us to understand that we are all
part of a universal family, regardless of color, race, or creed.
- Stories help us to remember. The stories we hear and tell remind us of our roots, those things that we share in common, those things that we share in honor, and those things that we share in shame.
- Stories use a special language. Stories use all kinds of language conventions to make the story vivid and memorable.
- Stories restore the original power of the word. Spoken and written words carry great power.
- Stories provide an escape. A good story calls us away from the immediate and gives us an opportunity to reenter life. Think of how children forget their hurts by the time a parent finishes a calm and soothing story.
- Stories evoke in us right-brain imagination. The Western world has molded most of us into a left-brain way of thinking. Stories bring about a balance by calling us to use the right side of our brain.
- Stories promote healing. Stories can bring reconciliation and forgiveness.
- Every story is our story. We can identify with something in every story.
- Stories provide a basis for hope and morality. Stories call us to the imagination of hope. Reinhold Niebuhr once said, “Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in a lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope.”
- Stories are the basis for ministry. It is from story that we minister for the sake of the world.
Bausch also suggests that good stories are paradoxical which causes emotions to be stirred. [ref]Storytelling: Imagination and Faith, 79. 65-80.[/ref]. These paradoxes are: first, spirituality is rooted in earthiness; second, the absolute is known in the personal; third, freedom is discovered in obedience; fourth, triumph grows out of suffering; fifth, security is found in uncertainty; and sixth, prayer is offered through study.) He goes on to say, “We are being asked to learn a language again that resonates with rich metaphor and image. Too long we have been trapped in the perfect square of a stylized laboratory where all things are subject to our measurements.”[ref]Storytelling: Imagination and Faith, 79.[/ref] We are invited to learn about God from the stories that he told, not from the propositions that we take from the stories that he told.
Wright takes the position that Evangelicalism’s view of Scripture is often a “low view” of Scripture…[ref]Wright, “How Can the Bible Be Authoritative?,” Vox Evangelica, no. 21 (1991): 7-32. [/ref] because we think that somehow the Holy Spirit didn’t do as good of a job as he could have done. We treat Scripture as if it were an unsorted Westminster Confession and that we have to take out of the stories the important points to believe and systematize them.