Predictable Stories

I recently overheard a heated discussion of the movie Avatar. Half the group really liked it. The other half didn’t. Biggest complaint? Predictability.

Depending on what you go to the theater expecting to find, this can be a totally legitimate complaint. Especially if you like to figure things out, and you like a challenge.

But I was thinking in the car today about the best stories: Romeo and Juliet, Life of Pi, Pan’s Labyrinth, David and Goliath, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. I noticed that every single one had a predictable ending.

I thought, too, about great literature and how for centuries people knew before they even opened the book (or watched the play or listened to the traveling troubadour) what the ending would be. “The Tragedy of…” would end with one or all of the main characters dead. “The Comedy of…” would end in a wedding.

And then there’s the Bible. Absolutely predictable.

I think this makes loads of sense, because when we take away all the distractions and accessories, every good story is pretty much the same: Things are good. Things get bad. The good guy(s) get rescued.

Sometimes things start out bad (although back story probably reveals that they once were good). And sometimes the rescue doesn’t happen on screen or between the book covers. But every good story is about a rescue.

Every good story is about Jesus.