Epic Story

“An epic is a large user story that cannot be delivered as defined within a single iteration or is large enough that it can be split into smaller user stories.  There is no standard form to represent epics.”  Examples might be Beowulf, the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Odyssey by Homer, or Paradise Lost by John Milton.  I remember reading that C.S. Lewis and J. R. Tolkien were trying to write epics as one created Tales of Narnia and the other wrote Lord of the Rings.  To me the epic that has impacted my life the most is the Bible, written over a period of perhaps 1500 years by multiple writers and including multiple genres. 

         In my 30s with five children under six years old and nursing twins, I was becoming spiritually dry.  My husband and I ran across Scripture Union as a daily devotional.  He read while I nursed.  Now he still reads and I do needle work for twenty minutes each morning.  Scripture Union used international writers and at the bottom of each page was a plan to read through the Bible in a year by reading two Old Testament and one New Testament chapters each day and a Psalm on Wednesday.  I loved to tick off doing that reading and of course it took several years to develop the discipline to read through the Bible in a year.  Gradually names and stories began to become more and more recognizable.  Scripture Union has identified what they consider “[The Essential 100] one-hundred readings through the world’s most important book” by Whitney T. Kuniholm.

         I’m curious.  The Bible is an epic putting in print “God’s interaction with humankind (p.1).”  Of the many sub-stories told in the Bible, what might be the 100 most important, I wonder.  The stories are organized in groups of five so in twenty weeks we will have checked it out and pondered.  Sounds like a good challenge.

         Tomorrow we will start so let’s first ponder what stories have formed our lives?  Who are our heroes?  Yesterday for Memorial Day we remembered cultural heroes whose life stories have deeply impacted our thinking.  What makes someone a hero or a personal mentor in your life?  What qualities do you look for that you pray will be growing in your life or your children’s?  Cultural heroes, personal heroes, literary heroes inspire us to be our better self.  Perhaps we can counterbalance some of the cynicism of our day by focusing on these stories.  I’m excited to hear good news!

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