Writer, editor, stumbler after Jesus

Telling the old, old story

MOST JOURNALISTS SAY there are only a handful of different stories to be written; after a while, all you do is change the names and some details. I mostly agree with this news template view, though I think my colleagues are wrong when they trace it back to the birth of newspapers and big-type headlines. I believe it goes further back—to biblical times.

Any current-day news story that really resonates with people can be found in the Bible narratives. For starters, there’s disaster and deliverance (the ark), suffering and survival (Job), overcoming the odds (David and Goliath), the great man who falls (King David), and selflessness and sacrifice (the Good Samaritan). There’s even the salacious celebrity kiss-and-tell (Samson and Delilah).

We’ve seen one of these archetypal stories played out in London this week, as the world’s paparazzi camped outside St. Mary’s Hospital, awaiting the birth of Prince William and Kate’s third baby.

Some might dismiss it as just another celebrity snapshot. Yet, I wonder whether there wasn’t something deeper going on with the Royal Baby Watch: the timeless hidden in the immediate.

I suggest it has something to do with the fingerprints of God on England. The nation’s Royal Family fascinates like none other on earth—all the scandals notwithstanding. True, I make this claim of “world’s favorite crown” as a Brit, but I’m not an ardent monarchist—just observing that other royals simply don’t draw the same level of interest. Why?

Some contend that just as God places gifts—attributes of Himself—in people, He also deposits them in places. At their best, countries, cities, communities, and cultures can reflect an aspect of His character and nature, like different faces of a diamond.

In this context, some see one of the treasures He placed in England as an echo of His kingliness, a flicker of His grandeur and greatness. It’s interesting to note that Jack Hayford’s wonderful worship song, “Majesty,” was inspired by a visit to England during Queen Elizabeth’s silver jubilee many years ago.

With all this in mind, I see more than just celebrity filler in the birth at St. Mary’s. In some small way, maybe it’s pointing us to the incarnation: tugging at our hopes in the birth of a Prince. It’s not just the media whipping up a frenzy. It’s touching within us a deeper hunger for wonder. It’s the old, old story in modern dress.

And it makes me ask how many times we all—journalists and those who read, view or listen to our reports—miss the real story.

Adapted from The Prince and The Paparazzi: Christmas in July, published July 22, 2013.

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