Once there was a land where religion had not yet been forgotten. To be sure, it was declining in importance, for the people were busy and prosperous. But most of them carried a vestigial memory of their ancestral faith. And for the children of these not-yet-faithless people, a man of great learning and warm imagination wrote stories that quickly became beloved. A generation of schoolchildren read them at night, dreaming of worlds inside wardrobes.

Many years passed. The land forgot its founding faith. Churches stood empty or were turned into discos and condos. The great man's stories, full of faith as they were, had done little to stop the receding tide.

But there was another land across the sea. This land, like the first many years before, had not yet entirely forgotten its faith. On Sundays half the people were in church, though often distracted by their cell phones.

Unfortunately, the people of this new land had a hard time making up stories of their own—even though, or perhaps because, they had the most sophisticated storytelling industry ever created. So they spent most of their time retelling others' stories, and retelling the retellings. Unfortunately, most of the stories they could recall involved boorish post-adolescent males, car chases, and improbably perfect female bodies in short shorts, and each time they retold them, the stories grew duller. The churchgoing among them longed for better stories, but they had few to tell.

Then one day a powerful man among them noticed the stories from the once-not-entirely-faithless land across the sea. They were rich and lovely, with lions and magic and talking animals. They echoed of the religion that many in his land had not yet forgotten. He opened up his storehouse of ...

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Always in Parables
Andy Crouch
Andy Crouch is an editor at large for Christianity Today. Before working for CT, Crouch was chief of re:generation quarterly, a magazine which won the Utne Reader's Alternative Press Award for spiritual coverage in 1999. He was formerly a campus minister with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Harvard University. Crouch and his wife, Catherine, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard, have two children. His column, "Always in Parables," ran from 2001 to 2006.
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