Ways To Tell A Story

 6 February 2022 |

Over the Christmas holiday I was introduced to a children’s cartoon film called Star. I’m sure some of you will know it. It’s described as a story about a donkey, but I saw it as the Nativity Story told from the angle of a donkey. The donkey was supposed to accompany a young Mary and Joseph and pull their cart, but he was having none of it. Poor Joseph had to pull it himself. Mary was reluctant to ride on the cart because of the burden it placed on Joseph. Added to the difficulties there was a large Roman soldier figure with 2 chained aggressive dogs whose intention was to prevent Mary reaching her destination.

Donkey had animal friends, in particular a bird I understood to be a dove. Ultimately following some amusing exchanges, the donkey decided he had a duty to catch Mary and Joseph and pull the cart. After several setbacks Donkey got them to the inn but was himself tied up by an opportunistic figure who presumably intended to use the donkey himself. As happens in the best children’s stories all the animals in the stable where Donkey was tied up assisted and he was freed. There was still the Roman soldier and the dogs to reckon with but of course they did not harm Mary and Donkey acted very bravely to rescue the trio from a cliff fall. The soldier was too arrogant to accept help or maybe too distrustful, but Donkey saved the dogs who subsequently had their lives transformed for the good.

A charming children’s tale which re told the Nativity story albeit with details somewhat altered but with many of the principles retained. I had been contemplating how to explain the Christmas story to children who may have no background in Bible stories and possibly no concept of God. To my surprise this proved to be a very good entree using images familiar to the modern child.

Martin has spoken of showing an array of pictures of Jesus including an anguished man on the cross and a gentle Caucasian Jesus surrounded by children and gambolling lambs. People choose the image which matches their own ideas. There are so many films and cartoons available now and children will have very different experiences from their parents and grandparents. We have had to adapt to zoom, YouTube and other digital platforms. We may find new ways to tell the most important story of God’s salvation if we can learn to harness all available materials.

Jill Pipe