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Stories of Jesus and Friends by Samuel H. Fountain

Stories of Jesus and Friends

by Samuel H. Fountain

157 pages
Stories to show Christianity respecting human integrity and other faiths.

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Category: Religion:Christianity
About the Book
This book respects human beings; it is a book of freedom, not condemnation.

"Tell me the stories of Jesus, I love to hear." These words from a child's religious ditty barely hint at the power of story. Stories of Jesus and Friends revisits, through story, an ancient perspective of the Christian faith long lost in the logic of Sunday sermons and religious tracts. Ironically, this ancient perspective is far more modern than what most churches teach today.

Stories respect their readers and listeners. In the Christian tradition, stories have been a primary way to communicate truth. The Bible itself is, for the most part, a collection of stories. The New Testament begins with five stories, the Gospels and Acts. Jesus told parables. World religions, before and during the Christian era, developed and expressed their truths through stories, myths.

But stories have also been sorely abused, especially in the American Christian traditions. Stories have become manipulative, attempts to convince audiences that specifically prescribed doctrines are absolute and eternal. Stories frequently emulate Aesop rather than Jesus by explaining what they mean and the consequences, good and bad, of not paying attention.

Jesus never did this. Matthew, Mark and Luke framed the parables of Jesus in contexts and added moralizing interpretations that belied the original parables. Stories of Jesus and Friends recaptures the spirit of the storytelling of Jesus by freeing stories to be told without burdening them with morals and forced interpretations.

The book also imitates the deep respect Jesus had for his audiences. Each member of his audience was free to find her or his own individual or personal meaning, be it serious or frivolous, delightful or oppressing.

Interest in religion has grown in recent years as demonstrated by the rapid growth of conservative Christian denominations and local churches (many conservative movements result in independent congregations) and by the equally rapid growth of New Age religions. The latter are more elusive since they include everything from astrology and witchcraft to holistic health movements, Native American shamanism, and Eastern religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism.

Stories of Jesus and Friends does several things. It tells stories without moralistic endings or specific interpretations; it respects readers whose life experiences are uniquely different for each; and it respects other traditions within and without Christendom. It does not impose direct moralisms or interpretations. Readers can do with the stories what they will. Still, the intent is to create an atmosphere where ideas and beliefs can live peacefully and respectfully together.
Christianity is key only because it is where the author begins, not because other religions are inferior. They are not.

Many within American conservative Christianity promote a negative theology which portrays Jesus as saving only those who believe the "right" things that, thereby, condemns the rest of humankind who believe the "wrong" things. It is also elitist because those "who are saved" are obviously better than those who are not. Stories of Jesus and Friends creates an environment where people are accepted as they are.

 

 

About the Author
Dr. Fountain pastored parishes in Vermont, New York, New Jersey, and Florida. Educated at the University of Florida (B.A.) and Drew University (M.Div. & D.Min.), he discovered story while searching for more effective communication. His doctoral project merged the style of Jesus' Parables and child development.

 

 

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