Shirley’s piece at the Greenbelt event was in three parts:
We hear it said sometimes that God created people because he loved stories.
But once upon a time, God was a story who loved to tell himself. How can I tell myself forever? he thought. So God told a man and a woman in his image and he told them that man’s chief end was to storify god and enjoy him forever. After God had created the man and the woman he said ‘It is good. The story is complete. Let it be fruitful and as it multiplies God will be retold for as long as there are people on the earth’.
God was almost right to think that he could be told in the story of human nature. He was close, so close. But the people he created in his image looked at him, as in a mirror, and failed to see themselves. And so the things they did unto the story of god failed.
So God thought again: How can I tell myself to the world, forever? He considered writing a book- several books- using wise people to record his thoughts and wishes and commands and his-story. It would be something that would be full of tales that would pass down through centuries and it would teach people how to live and love and how to be saved from death. It would tell them about how the story of god was being written amongst them and that if only they could recognise that the mirror they looked through was merely clouded with stories, they would see the true reflection of God in his good and perfect creation.
But the book of God’s story was also inadequate. The story of the story seemed to multiply with every reading. It became a story of a story of a story of a story of a story of a story of a story. Of the making of stories there was no end and the people became weary and confused. Each time they tried to look at God the mirror became more and more clouded by the stories they told themselves of what to expect and what they wanted to see.
God is a story that loves to be told. But he was perplexed. He felt as if all those years of trying to tell himself had only led to a greater distance, a greater un-telling. And so he thought again. This time, God thought, I will tell myself in my own flesh. People will see that there is nothing that need separate a man or woman from the story of god. And so the word became flesh, the story became flesh, hoping so hard that this time it would be clear.