Stories of unlikely heroes, unlikely champions, and even unlikely happy endings make wonderful books and films. The story of a likely winner who ends up . . . winning doesn’t have the ability to hold an audience. (Does the same story two weeks in a row have that ability, I wonder?)
What if the main character in the (slightly less) recent remake of "The Secret Life of Walter Middy" had been an adventurer to begin with. And what if they had just wanted to find something more adventurous? Maybe interesting, but not exactly something inspirational. Good storytelling thrives on the unlikely finding a way to happen -- giving the audience what they want.
In this (uh, last) week’s Bible reading from John 1:1-18, Jesus is described as the one who is most important, yet who takes on and unlikely role. It’s a familiar view of Jesus, present in his rejection in his hometown in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
Why couldn’t the story be that Jesus is the savior of the world without being an unlikely one? Is it because by becoming a suffering human he is better able to identify with all those who suffer? Is it because if he had been a person of wealth or power on earth that no one would ever believe that he came to bring good news to the poor?
Maybe the story isn't compelling enough without unlikeliness and struggle. Maybe that's why the story stays. (Maybe that's why I want to repeat it again this week. . . .)