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What is the purpose of storytelling?

I had an argument with a friend about the purpose of stories. I was arguing that stories have to have a moral, he was arguing that stories can be void of any morality, only entertain and still be good stories.

I still haven't figured out how to respond to his theory. He thinks that a story can tell moral truths, but that this isn't its main purpose. Kind of how some hammers can be used to pry two boards apart, even though the main purpose is to nail them together.


This morning I was thinking about how my quest to write stories and make films feels very similar to Frodo's quest. I don't have much hope of succeeding, but because of Frodo's diligence and perseverance in the face of utter hopelessness I am inspired to do the same. Here the story of Lord of the Rings is useful in my everyday life. I would say this is its main purpose. If Lord of the Rings didn't have any effect on how I live life I would say it's a useless story.


But maybe my friend is right. There is something about stories that doesn't have to have an effect on the audience's morality and just simply entertain.

What if he's right?


Maybe the main purpose of storytelling is to entertain.

Maybe this is similar to the purpose of humans. Maybe our main purpose is simply to bring joy.


Ah. Here is where I think I've discovered something.


Our original intent was to bring God joy. God didn't tell Adam and Eve the Ten Commandments. He simply plopped them into the Garden. He told them one thing they weren't allowed to do, but surely that wasn't their main purpose. He didn't create them for the purpose of not eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. What kind of a purpose is that? So they weren't created for the purpose of not sinning, but when they sinned they weren't fulfilling their purpose.

He created them out of an overflowing love. He created humans out of joy. Some might call it entertainment.

The moment Adam and Eve sinned they didn't bring God joy and glory, which was their purpose. So even though their main purpose isn't to not sin, sinning is hindering them from fulfilling their purpose.


Maybe it's similar with stories. The thing that bothers me about most stories, is how they promote sinful behavior. They tell moral lies and thus cease to be entertaining.

But you might say that though Adam and Eve were made to bring God joy, stories are meant for humans, and telling moral lies might even make them more entertaining to certain people who don't care about the moral law.

Since their purpose is to bring humans entertainment, and not God, the most vile story can be considered as fulfilling its purpose as long as it's entertaining.

Although since we live in God's world and everything belongs to him, even stories should bring him joy, honor and glory. And only a story void of lies can do that.


What I take out of this, is that my main focus should be telling a story that brings joy, first to God, then to man.

I get so easily wrapped up in focusing on the moral truths, that my stories feel forced and sterile. Morality is not the best guide when it comes to storytelling, joy is a better one.


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