So, What Is This “Public Narrative” Stuff For General Convention

Here is a syllabus for a class at Harvard on it.

My thought? This is the new strategy to control the conversation and obtain desired results. Either victory or delay.

Fabian socialism – just keep nibbling until you get what you want.

9 Responses to “So, What Is This “Public Narrative” Stuff For General Convention”

  1. 1 Rob Eaton+ June 16, 2008 at 6:50 pm

    Nothing new for General Convention, or for local strategies. Integrity’s change-mantra has for many years been “Let’s have lunch together (so I can tell you my story and you will change your mind as an anticipated consequence).”
    It’s not new, and others have made use of it. “Neighborhood Evangelism”, sharing your story of Christ over the informal, non-threatening setting of having coffee at the kitchen table; Lee Buck’s evangelism seminars centered around developing one’s personal 3-part testimony, my life before Christ, how I met Christ, my life since. Big on the story, soft on the theology (until later).
    Even just is expository preaching, one of the key elements of keeping people’s mental interest in listening is the power of the illustration – but not too many or else the people would go into anecdotal fatigue or shock.
    Even more powerful, illustrations and anecdotes from your own personal life. And if the story includes the personal risk of telling the story itself publicly – wow. Grabs hearts.

    What is much harder is to apply the narrative to cause people to be willing to bend the same rules they are all living with at the same time. Canon law, for instance. The goal will be to see “the higher moral purpose”. But we see it is possible to do.
    Even harder than that, though, is to find the Public Narrative strategy of rebuttal. It may indeed be true that “Jesus said otherwise” than what is being proposed in change. Where the biblically orthodox in the mainline denominations have failed (at least one area, anyway) is not incorporating the teaching and commands of Jesus and expressing them through our own personal life narrative. The inability to provide an articulate evangelistic testimony from within these denominations – as Episcopalians are notorious for – is clearly a primary focus for this failure.
    This explains why those who are expert in the use of narrative, such as Integrity, are so keen to keep ex-gay testimony from the public venues, and when they do slip through, to immediately find ways to denigrate the testimony.

    I see this class was run in 2007; how long before that? Is Harvard just now catching up?

  2. 2 Matthew June 16, 2008 at 8:54 pm

    What struck me was I didn’t see any provision for listening. Talking is easy. Listening isn’t. If the Episcopal Church were truly interested in survival, there would be a lot less story telling, and a lot more active listening.

    On an unrelated note, the use of the term ‘story’ is interesting. IT has connotations of a connected narrative as well as fibs or propaganda. I wonder which meaning they intend?

  3. 3 Canon Gregg L. Riley June 16, 2008 at 10:56 pm


    It is a “how to” forum on “spinning.”

    Canon G+

  4. 5 Perpetua June 17, 2008 at 1:10 am

    I agree with Rob Eaton+. This is powerful stuff and the conservatives scoff at their own risk. We especially need ex-gays trained in these techniques. (This is the technique Barack Obama was trained in.)

  5. 6 Timothy Fountain June 17, 2008 at 1:55 am

    Does anybody really think this is necessary? Haven’t most Episcopalians already absorbed things like:
    “Thinking person’s church”
    “Middle way between (state your polar opposites)”

    The narrative is already in place. They’ve already told their story to those who believe it and will use it to comfort themselves while the denomination dies.

    The only remaining question is how those who see through the lies choose to react. But we certainly won’t go to GC and displace the narrative that already exists, IMO.

  6. 7 Bob Maxwell+ June 17, 2008 at 2:30 am

    It’s a good reason to be away from Albuquerque and then drive for KY. TBW+ is good at it [BG]

  7. 8 Aunt B June 17, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    They’ve also read Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals (1971). For a telling, albeit brief, overview, go here: .

    A few examples:
    “The first rule of power tactics is: power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.”

    “Wherever possible go outside the experience of the enemy. Here you want to cause confusion, fear, and retreat.”

    “Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules. You can kill them with this. They can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.” [How interesting is this one?]

    “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counterattack ridicule. Also, it infuriates the opposition, who then react to your advantage.”

  8. 9 Alice C. Linsley June 19, 2008 at 1:54 am

    Aunt B, I’m glad you commented on this. These rules work because Americans have lost their moral compass. Read the essay on “Goodbye to America”, here:

    I’d appreciate your comment.

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