We really are storytellers. There are a few people who don’t visit with other folks but not very many. For the most part, we are the storytellers. Look at what happens when family or friends (or both) gather at someone’s house. Where do we end up? Frequently it is in the kitchen where we… wait for it… tell the stories. Stories of what is going on in our lives, funny stories, sad stories and all the rest. Watch what happens before weddings and funerals sometime. People gather in the parking lot as they arrive and start to… wait for it… tell the stories.
In his book Tell it Slant Eugene Peterson riffs on the first line of Emily Dickinson’s poem “Tell All The Truth” where she writes, “Tell all the truth but tell it slant”. My take on it is that Peterson uses the phrase ‘tell it slant’ to describe one of the ways that Jesus tells stories. Instead of big, wordy and frequently pointed commentary there are times that Jesus uses less direct wording and phrasing and thus tells it slant. Instead of churchy, religious language he uses common language and familiar illustrations to make his point. He tells it slant.
When it comes to our own faith stories perhaps we’d be wise to tell it slant, as well. It seems that for most folks there is a latent fear in talking about faith. I suspect this is often times a mistaken assumption that we don’t ‘know’ the proper faith discussion words. I say that we do know the proper words but instead of trying to proclaim grand theological insights we can just tell it slant. There is a time and place for grand theological discussions (they’re kind of fun, in a theo-nerd kind of way) but most of our conversations happen in places like the kitchen or the parking lot. Let’s spend more time talking about our faith there like we talk about anything else.
Let’s tell it slant.