Book Reading: Kurt Bruner, The Divine Drama

Book details: Kurt Bruner’s The Divine Drama: Discovering Your Part in God’s Story (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001).

In the popular theology genre, this book offers a view of God’s relation to humanity in terms of a basic storyline that has repeated itself through the ages.

For Bruner, there is a “common pattern” in “all great stories” (5) which when followed inspire, and when not followed, bore.

The central premise is the “hero’s journey” (pp. 6ff)

1. The central character living in a comfortable zone (ordinary life).
2. Something throws his life out of balance; a quest for an “object of desire”
3. The “hero” must overcome many obstacles, with increasing difficulty, to “regain equilibrium” in his life or world.
4. Finally, the hero has to sacrifice something precious, either his health, his family, or his life, to attain the “object of desire” and retain equilibrium.

Bruner then goes on to show that the biblical story follows this parameter, and we can participate within it, within this same premise.

Quick thoughts:
– Bruner’s work is fun/easy to read.
– The central premise idea is a little far-fetched. I wouldn’t be so simplistic about all the great stories follow this paradigm.
– Clearly Bruner likes the ‘sacrifice’ angle because of its affinities to the cross and thus highlights it to make all great stories about sacrifice. This is difficult to accept. For instance, if we take Shakespearean drama, the sacrifice (even transformation) involved in comedy and tragedy are so fundamentally different. 
– God’s story is story in all aspects… ie. it depends on the narrative force of the text. Not necessary in its themes. Bruner, in contrast, highlights the idea of the narrative, the theme (commonality) and falls prey to the idea of propositional interpretation of narratives. A story is a world in itself, and the parallels may or may not exist, but the world exists in and of itself without over-reaching itself. Bruner’s attempt to link other stories tend to go against the form/purpose of the stories.
– Finally, this is an interesting example of dialogue of metanarratives. Not that I agree with it, but at least it shows another aspect of dialogue of ideology (stories) in action.

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Passage for this Season

Philippians 2:11-13 (NIV) (12)Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, (13)for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

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