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Stories Within Stories | 6.1 author Max Harris

Brad Fruhauff

Onion6.1 author Max Harris offers a brief manifesto of sorts on writing stories as a Christian. Jesus puzzled his audiences with short stories. We call them parables. The disciples wanted to know their meaning. Sometimes Jesus explained; other times, he didn’t. Embedded in the gospels’ creative nonfiction, Jesus’s parables are stories within stories.

The Holy Spirit crafts gazillions of life stories, in which the characters come alive and insist on shaping their own destinies. Patiently, over a lifetime, the Spirit shapes weak material into something beautiful and true. Even the worst he never discards. A small tweaking of some detail or a sudden flash of light might yet breathe new life into flawed characters.

The Father loves each and every part of the creation. The Father eschews ironic distancing. Faith believes that God’s love is strong enough to forge a happy ending for the whole creation. But not yet.

I wonder what part my poor stories play in this long narrative.


Max Harris was born in England, received his PhD from the University of Virginia, and now lives in Wisconsin. He is the author of five nonfiction books, including Theater and Incarnation and Sacred Folly: A New History of the Feast of Fools, and several short stories. Writing fiction allows him to make stuff up.