Make Option 02: Write a Saga
The ancestral “cycles” (e.g., Abraham Cycle, Gen 12-25; Jacob Cycle, Gen 25:19 to 35:29) each comprise a collection of relatively independent sagas. For example, see Gen 16:1-16; Gen 17:1-22; Gen 22:1-19; Gen 29; Gen 34.
Sagas are typically short: about 550 words.
Sagas are typically simple:
- there is a single plot (no sub-plots), with a single rising tension or conflict, resolution, and denouement.
- there is a small cast, and usually only two parties are in dialogue at any one time.
- there is no “backdrop” or thick background: it is as if the narrative took place against a plain white frame, so to speak, and a saga does not depend upon the action of any prior episode.
- sagas are not moralistic: they do not “have a moral.” However, they are a means by which we describe “who we are.” (We are wily tricksters because our ancestor was a wily trickster; we are enemies with our neighbors because our ancestor was wronged by our neighbors; we are honorable in victory as our ancestor was honorable in victory; etc.) Sometimes “who we are” is not pretty.
Instructions: Choose any figure from the past whom you identify as part of your “tradition” (national, ethnic, ecclesial, political, academic, familial, or what have you). Write this figure into a short saga, using the formal features above as a guide. This should be a fictional episode; while it presumably takes place in that figure’s historical context, that context should be largely “invisible” behind and around the events of the saga. Again, this is historical fiction: don’t recreate an episode, but rather invent one.
Ask yourself: what do you want this saga to say about who your group is? About your group’s characteristics or aspirations? About your group’s relationship to some other group? Does it aspire, or gloat, or does it tell “hard truths” about your group? Again: How does your fictional episode tell your group “who they are”?
God and John, a Saga
After fleeing Georgia a broken and miserable man, John Wesley waited. After some time, a messenger from God came to John in a dream and said “Get up! Get up! You have more work to do!” John was confused by this. The messenger continued “You must serve communion to all of your ex-lovers and those you have lusted after, including the one you withheld communion from, Sophia.” John was not happy about this message from God, but John believed it to be right and just and desired to be a servant of God. So, John went to the chapel that day and all of those present were the women John had had passionate love for. There were roughly twenty woman present and John was very overwhelmed by the sheer number of women present, he thought his number was higher than this. None of the women were dressed appropriately, and more than his heart was feeling “strangely warm.” Some of the women were wearing very low cut, revealing dresses, and some looked to be ladies of the night. Others had nothing on at all, and still, some appeared to be dressed semi-appropriately, but their behavior and mannerisms made the situation inappropriate and John found them all very attractive and desirable. John also saw Sophia and she lacked clothing at all; she was going to be the hardest to serve communion to. John knew that this was a test to see if he could be holy in the midst of beautiful women he found desirable. He also knew this would be a struggle, possibly one of the biggest struggles of his life. He served them all communion without lingering on the lust that was trying to enter into his heart. After this the Spirit of the Lord came to him and said “Well done, good and faithful servant. You shall now be blessed or cursed with a wife named Mary Vazeille. You probably will not be happy in this marriage and may decide to separate, however if you stay married to her, since she is a widow, and you do not require her to live in these “Widow Houses” that you are establishing, you will receive redemption from the Sophia incident and you will be remembered as a great follower of God and not a perv.” “I, the Lord, have spoken.” John Wesley followed this and became the father of a denomination and the people called Methodists. The Lord used a former perv to create a strong denomination, bringing millions to Christ.
This saga was interesting to write. According to Ellen Davis, the saga of Abraham and Issac and Abraham’s willingness to kill his son are evidence of the trust Abraham has in YHWH, because YHWH has shown faithfulness to Abraham in the past. Ronald Hendel seconds this by stating that Abraham was willing to circumcise himself and his sons because of his trust in YHWH. In this saga, John Wesley trusted in the Lord and was rewarded with a happy(?) marriage and became the father of the people called Methodists. A central theme in Abraham’s life and sagas are his trust in YHWH, I attempted to use this in my saga between God and John Wesley.