Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sabbath Reflections: Not Your Granny's Flannelgraph

I come up with a lot of get-rich-quick schemes, and, for some reason, many of them are faith-based. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen the ridiculous merchandise in the gift section of Christian bookstores. (Look, it’s a 100-piece nativity set made out of real olive branch wood from the Holy Land! And it has a scratch-and-sniff that smells like frankincense!)

But, seriously, this one is going to work. Feel free to contact me about investing in stock any time. I’ve noticed a real gap in the market, and I know just how to fill it.

You see, there are a lot of books and movies that are “based on true events.” I figure, since most kids are bored with the same old Bible stories, I could fictionalize them to add a little punch.

I call it: ActionPacked Flannelgraphs. Here are some ideas for the first few in the series:

  • Judges: SuperNinjaHolyHeroes – With traditional stories like “Gideon Slashes and Burns the Midianites,” to obscure gems like “Ehud the Crazy Left-Handed Assassin Stabs a Obscenely Fat King And No One Investigates Because Everyone Thinks He’s Going To The Bathroom,” this is sure to be a hit. There will even be a female empowerment version of Deborah, with Jael and her tentpeg coming in for a gory subplot. Of course, Samson is the big finale. Picture this: little felt pieces of foxes with their tails lit on fire, a donkey’s jawbone smeared with blood, and a lion carcass filled with honey. (Maybe an opportunity for scratch-and-sniff?)
  • 1 and 2 Samuel: RoyalFaceoffSmackdown – Are you Team Saul or Team David? Our two-part flannelgraph set brings the chase to your classroom, including David trading scalps for a bride, the WitchQueen of Endor, and the DeathRay version of the Ark of the Covenant (so much cooler than in Indiana Jones).
  • Song of Solomon – Okay…maybe not.
  • John: EpicJesus – You know the story about driving moneylenders out of the temple is going to be big here. No time for the Sermon on the Mount – we go straight to the action. Pompous villains? Check. Jesus put those Pharisees in their place. Secret plots and midnight interrogations? Oh yeah. Nicodemus, the secret agent. Vampires and cannibals? Well, some of Jesus’ followers thought he wanted them to be (See John 6:53-58). Zombies? Got ‘em. (What, you don’t think people called Lazarus a zombie when he walked out of the tomb in grave clothes?)

I’m applying for a patent even as we speak, and I want to trademark the whole cram-capitalized-words-together-without-spaces thing too. Makes it look official.

But, seriously, this just goes to show that the Bible is exciting. Some people think that Christian fiction has to be boring because it’s “religious.” This is not true. If anything, our stories should be the most interesting, because we have such a great examples in the Bible.

Should we try to amp up classic Bible tales to appeal to a modern audience? Probably not, especially not for kids’ Sunday School classes. But can we get inspiration from the stories of the Bible to give our fiction both depth and excitement? Absolutely.

To Do List: Read some traditional Bible stories in a new way, looking at reasons why they work as true stories: why they satisfy me or disturb me or make me ask questions. Then see what themes I can steal for my fictional stories.

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