When opposites collide, fragments fly. Order degenerates to chaos. No wonder we fight to avoid crashes. Take, for instance, the contradiction between the two ways people process information—literate-style and oral-style. Neither intelligence nor education matters. Twenty percent of us in the world would rather read than listen, but 80% would rather listen than read. We spend years mastering literate-style, but acquire oral-style as babies. Literate-style divides knowledge into categories and lists. Oral-style organizes life with context and chronology. Literate-style takes notes. Oral-style remembers stories.
Collisions between such opposites can be messy. But not always. Sometimes they produce better results.
For example, MAF aviation operations use literate-style procedures. The Cessna 206 engine-start checklist requires completing 10 steps in the right sequence–and that’s just one of 28 normal-operation checklists for that airplane containing a total of 223 steps. Regulations demand we read and comply with every step, in order, each and every time.
However, every flight also tells a story. A local pastor oversees flocks in several villages. On a flight to the first village, weather forces a diversion. At the second village, a man stumbles in from the trail just as the pastor arrives. Coincidence becomes serendipity as the wanderer finds new life.
Or consider the MAF Bible Storytelling & Discussion ministry. A village pastor, trained in traditional, literate-style Bible study, moves from book to book, pulling verses that speak of God’s love. He catalogs them by writer and date, then explores key word nuance in original languages. Finally he compiles his notes to form coherent doctrine.
But what if his village listeners only use oral-style? He can, instead, minister like Jesus who responded to a hostile crowd with the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) giving them familiar context and a chronology they could follow.
In fact, it turns out God’s ways often blend rather than smash polar opposites. He shows us a Servant who is King, and a Lion who is Lamb. Then, He sends us to confront our world with His kingdom. And that collision yields the best stories ever told.