The End/Beginning of MARK in the CITY

MarkInTheCityAfter many months of attentive reading and rich conversation, we have finished “Mark in the City” – our study of Mark’s “good news” about Jesus.

It is only fitting to end with a few words from our guide, Ched Myers.

“The question of whether the act of reading can animate the reader is nowhere better addressed than in contemporary German novelist Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story (1983). High fiction in the tradition of Tolkein or C.S. Lewis, Ende’s story within a story centers around Bastian, a boy alienated from his own world who tries to escape by immersing himself into the narrative world of a book about ‘Fantastica.’ He identifies closely with the book’s protagonists, but becomes terrified when it begins to seem that the characters are soliciting his help in resolving their crisis. As the drama in ‘Fantastica’ reaches its denouement, Bastian realizes that the story he is reading is doomed unless he responds to its cries for his involvement.

As he hesitates, frozen by fear, the story begins to turn back upon itself, unresolved, except that now Bastian is named in the text.  So, he finally ‘jumps into’ the narrative, giving it a new beginning. After many adventures in which he learns more deeply about his true self, Bastian returns to his own real world, a transformed person.

In similar fashion, Mark’s narrative of discipleship, which so tragically collapses because of ‘blindness,’ can continue only if we realize, like Bastian, that we are in fact characters in the very story we thought we were reading. Mark, like Ende’s novel, put the ‘future’ of the narrative in the hands of the reader. And he can do so precisely because he believes that the story and its subject are not ‘dead past’ but ‘living present.’ But how do we ‘jump into’ the Gospel and make it our own? Mark’s readerly crisis cannot be resolved through a mere leap of imagination, but only by ‘taking up the cross’ and following. The new story is one in which we are no longer readers but also actants.” (Myers, Binding the Strong Man, 449)

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