3. Like faith, stories engage us as whole persons, not as parts.
No one believes anything important with the intellect alone. Believing is a whole body, whole life experience. If it doesn’t involve everything, it’s not belief but simply an agreement with an idea. Believing enlists all the aspects of the mind. It involves the will, curiosity, personality, character, our bodies, imagination. You don’t believe anything deeply that isn’t a product of all that you are.
Reason is a tool that will serve any master, including the most odious. By itself it does not get us where we need to go. We need to use it as well as we can, but we are foolish to think that any single human faculty is sufficient to guide our entire lives. A lot of wrong thoughts about life come from not treating people wholly. Anything that respects only reason, or only will-power or discipline will break down.
Consider the example of Nathan’s confrontation of David, after he had slept with Bathsheba and murdered her husband (2 Samuel 12). He tells a story to David, and he tells it masterfully, using timing and irony and pathos. David becomes enraged by the actions of the rich man in Nathan’s story and declares that he deserves to die.
Notice that David’s intellect, emotion, sense of justice, and body are involved. He responds as a whole person, which is exactly the response Nathan must have desired. And then the prophet says most powerfully, “You are that man!,” bringing the full force of the message home to David and leading him to repentance.