Monday, 16 February 2009

semi random thoughts

I've been thinking about hermeneutics a bit, being in the middle of a missional hermeneutics intensive at college, and I was wondering how I'd explain 'hermeneutics' to a non theological student ... I thought I could illustrate hermeneutics as interpretation, by saying that one could read Shakespeare (or watch), and interpret the plays with, say, a feminist 'hermeneutic', or lens. You could also interpret Shakespeare with a theological hermeneutic, though I'm not sure that's quite so helpful. 
See, the thing is, when we interpret the Bible, the authors have a message they want the reader / audience to believe, to accept, adopt, adhere to. 
With Shakespeare, he's much more elusive as author - I don't think he writes the plays with a message he wants to convert the audience to. Shakespeare writes human characters in order to hold up a mirror to humanity, for us to reflect on our human experience. (I don't think that's the case for all non-biblical or non-religious writing / theatre. In the mirror he held up to humanity, I think Charles Dickens was more overtly critiquing the society of Industrial Revolution England in his novels, for example.) Shakespeare is elusive because he tells the story without judging the characters. We might judge them, or interpret them, or take away a 'message' or an understanding of human behaviour, but that doesn't appear to me to be the primary goal for Shakespeare, who is, primarily, a storyteller. 

I wonder what it might mean, though, for Biblical/faith storytelling, to be, primarily, a storyteller. I don't think I have any answer to this question I'm about to pose, so I'll just ask it - 
Can we tell stories of encounter with God simply writing human characters as a mirror to our human experience, or do we need to have a message, an agenda, driving the telling of the story?

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