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Impacting the Culture through Story – PART 1

Daniel Schwabauer

Storytellers are the most powerful people in any culture. More than military leaders or political figures, storytellers exercise control by shaping the ideas people believe. Writers, journalists, newscasters, film directors, professors, marketing experts, and radio personalities don’t just entertain us. They tell us what to believe, how to think, what to do. Their influence—gained solely through the power of Story—echoes for generations.

Prime Time?

74% of Americans believe the country is in moral decline. 65% blame the news and entertainment media. Problem is, we’ve accepted lies packaged in the compelling secular stories of our time. These lies—about who we are, why we’re here, and where we’re going—tend to expand with each generation. As they expand, the disconnect between Truth and Story grows wider. This is why Hollywood and New York rely on bare skin and explosions to sell their products. Their stories lack truth, and so must rely on special effect to grab an audience.

America needs cultural restoration, but that restoration won’t happen as a result of a political process. Why? Because our problem isn’t the result of a political process. As most people understand intuitively, politics didn’t get us into this mess. Lies and selfishness did. Lies told by the news and entertainment media.

The only way out is to reverse the process, and inundate our culture with truth. The catch is that any kind of change must be presented carefully. The lies we believed weren’t presented openly, or all at once. They were hidden in compelling stories. They slipped in gradually. We started tolerating brief violence and mild sexual innuendo because “the rest of the story was so good.” After a while we were accepting pornographic ads on prime time and watching fictional heads get lopped off without blinking.

America’s cultural restoration must use similar tactics to win back the high ground. Jesus told parables because he knew Truth must be presented in such a way that one’s audience can receive it. The storytellers of the next generation will have to deal with desensitized, jaded audiences who no longer believe in absolutes. The task is enormous and will require great wisdom and skill.

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