Thank you Dan for sharing this story and inspiring such a great discussion.
One of the most ironic aspects of the exodus from the church is that much of it is caused by those in the church not being able to hold the bible loosely. When you are told that under no circumstances are you to deviate from the belief of biblical inerrancy, if you have even half a brain, you are faced with a proverbial "Sophie's choice." Do you continue to believe every story in a book written over thousands of years to different audiences, by different authors, in empirically different genres, with little to no archeological evidence to support many of those stories; or do you give it up altogether and walk away from spiritual “life?” You are told, “Well, Jesus believed in Adam and Eve. So are you saying Jesus was wrong?” What the hell are you supposed to say to that (no pun intended)?
Instead, what if in addition to questioning the bible, you were able to openly, freely, and even enthusiastically proclaim that much of what was written was not literal history, but “truths” about God and the human condition told in a way that connects with the audience.
The Story of Darth Vader and Luke
Whenever people say something like “Well, Jesus told such-and-such a story about the Old Testament,” I like to use this analogy. If I’m on a stage teaching 1,000 filmmakers a lesson about the power of father wounds in cinema, I may say, “The struggle between Luke and Vader beautifully illustrates how father wounds convey opportunities to learn grace and forgiveness.” Nowhere in that sentence do I reference that I’m referring to a fictional story. The audience knows it. They also get the message based on their knowledge.
Now imagine 2,000 years from now, an old manuscript of my speech is dug up, and they see my reference to this Vader and Luke. Some people claim this Vader and Luke were just a myth. Others insist on their veracity because the knowledge of these two is worldwide, with millions of people believing in and even following this “religion” called “The Force.”
I guess what I’m saying is: how many more people would have continued to hold on to Jesus as Christ if they were allowed to let go of Jonah and the Whale?