Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Storykeepers

Heard recently around the Barber household.
Bart:Now I've got you, Tacticus, and I'm going to take you back to Nero!
Jim:O no you won't, you mean old Nihilus. I'm going to knock you down with my sword. We will go to Shamadar and you will not catch us!
A battle generally ensues.
Welcome to the wonderful world of The StoryKeepers. In my opinion, the production of substantive, biblically faithful, high-quality, age-appropriate Christian edutainment is a compelling need. This series meets that need and does so in a manner that delights both the pastor and the historian within me.

The Frame Story

Ben, a rotund Roman baker, is the "storykeeper"; that is, he is the pastor of a Christian congregation in Rome around 64 A.D. Ben and his wife Helena have learned the stories of the life of Christ, and it is their duty to transmit them to the remainder of the congregation. Nero is hot on their trail, primarily through the agency of Praetorian thug Nihilus. The Christian community includes a number of displaced children who live with Ben and Helena, as well as converted Praetorian Guard Tacticus. Together, they are all fleeing Nero's wrath and seeking peace outside the Roman Empire in the Iranian city of Shamadar. Fierce battles (no Christian ever kills anyone), catacomb cave-ins, prison breaks on the eve of becoming Purina Lion Chow, and desperate escapes from the infamous Roman conflagration make the frame story one of gripping drama. I think you can tell, my four-year-old is not the only one in the household who enjoys it. The drama is not the only draw for me. I'm thrilled that my children are learning part of the story of Apostolic Christianity (after all, if you've learned about the Apostolic Church, you've learned something about being Baptist). I don't know about Ben and Helena, but I do know that our spiritual forefathers suffered persecution under Nero for their unswerving faith. I can't imagine anything but good coming from my children knowing about that. By the way, Ben is the official "imperial baker" in the story. The authors have apparently read the apocryphal suggestion (I can trace it as far back as Theodore Metochites, but I do not offer myself as an expert regarding this story) that Paul had been imprisoned by Nero for playing a role in the conversion of Nero's baker and one of Nero's consorts.

The Main Plots

Along the way, at contextually-appropriate moments, these early Christians (primarily Ben) tell stories from the gospels. Sometimes they retell Jesus' parables. Often they recount events from the life of Christ. The stories are theologically robust and gospel-centered (from what I've seen so far). The great thing about this structure is that the frame story strengthens the telling of the gospel. The story of the gospel becomes not just another tale—these are stories that have changed the lives of Roman Christians. They are valuable stories for which people risk their lives. People come to faith in Christ in these stories. I highly recommend that you check out The Storykeepers. The link at the top of this article is one place to start.

1 comment:

Todd Pylant said...

Thanks for the link. I will have to check this out for me and my seven year old!