The Effects of a Framing Story by Brian D. McLaren

If our framing story tells us that we humans are godlike beings with godlike privileges – intelligent and virtuous creatures outside a limited environment of time and space, without potentially fatal flaws – we will have no reason to acknowledge or live within limits, whether moral or ecological.

Similarly, if it tells us that the purpose of life is for individuals or nations to accumulate an abundance of possessions and to
experience the maximum amount of pleasure during the maximum number of minutes of our short lives, then we will have little reason to manage our consumption.

If our framing story tells us that we are in life-and-death competition with each other, that only the fittest will survive, that each species and group is in a violent struggle to out compete and gain independence and safety from or dominance over all others, then we will have little reason to seek reconciliation and collaboration and non-violent resolutions to our conflicts.

If it tells us that we are simply masses of atoms in a complex and ultimately meaningless fermentation and decay process, that there is no ultimate purpose to existence, no higher value to the story, then we will have little reason to seek transcendence.

BUT if our framing story tells us that we are free and responsible creatures in a creation made by a good, wise, and loving God, and that our Creator wants us to pursue virtue, collaboration, peace, and mutual care for one another and all living creatures, and that our lives can have profound meaning if we align ourselves with God’s wisdom, character, and dreams for us …. then our society will take a radically different direction, and our world will become a very different place.

McLaren, B. Everything Must Change: When the World’s Biggest Problems and Jesus’ Good News Collide: Thomas Nelson, 2007, page 67.

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