Stories End. Or Stop.

I don’t know why I should bother posting blog entries anymore. This weekend I was linked by Andrew Sullivan’s The Daily Beast, so it can only go downhill from here. But since Christianity is a faith built on the glory of the humble, I trust that the truly faithful among you will follow me on my slide from such heights of glory down to the pits of lowliness.

But all good stories are like this. They move. They encounter tensions. They resolve. Or they don’t.

I remember the angst of my heart when I first watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The great, climactic scene of the film, right when you know everything is about to be resolved, and the movie stops. It doesn’t end. It just stops.

The story is unsatisfying. We want to know what happened. We imagine what came next. We protest against the writers for stealing the most important part of the story from us.

People seem to have responded to Mark’s Gospel in the same way. The story doesn’t end. It simply stops. The lack of an ending was too much. Resolution was needed–so it was given.

Some might even say the same about the ending of Luke-Acts. Paul preaches the gospel in Rome with all openness, unhindered. Ok, so what then? We make up stories: about testifying before Caesar, about a release and subsequent journeys, about… well… anything that can make for a better ending than simply stopping.

But this very impulse to finish the story testifies to the genius of stopping rather than ending.

When a story ends, we can shut the book and walk away. We have completed our there-and-back-again tale. We know that happily ever after has descended.

But when it simply stops, we can’t let go so easily. We immediately scramble–first, perhaps, to protest, then to know what happens next.

To my mind, this is the genius of Mark. Some have maintained that the point of simply stopping is to send you back to the beginning. I’m not so sure. I think the point of not having an ending is to begin searching for the threads of how the narrative continues: past the fear and silence and into the present where we stand, now, as testaments to the fact that fear and silence were not the final word. The kingdom of God has grown up like a seed–on its own, the farmer knows not how.

And this, too, is the value we find in telling our stories to our friends. When we tell our stories to the people in our various communities, they can only stop. In this life, there is no truly resolve ending. To tell our stories is to invite someone along to help us see what will be next, to invite a participation in writing the future scenes.

From our hero’s meteoric rise to scrolling-by blog fame, to his descent back to the obscurity from which he came. And what will happen next?

Stay tuned.

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