News From Terre Haute, Indiana

March 9, 2013

The Joy Lady: ‘In the beginning’ there is a plot, morals and relevance

Verna Davis
Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — I’m a bibliophile — a book lover. Biographies. Historical fiction. Mysteries. Suspense. Chick lit. Classics. I am as crazy for Jane Austen as I am for Janet Evanovich. Charles Dickens and Nathaniel Hawthorne thrill me as much as John Grisham and James Patterson. And “Tinker, Tailer, Soldier, Spy” has nothing on “The Scarlet Pimpernel.”

My high school English literature teacher told us a classic book (or story or song or folk tale) is a story that contains a moral lesson and a plot that is relatable and relevant for all generations for all time.

Could talking animals ever be involved in a classic story? Well, what if the talking animals know that their owners are fools? What if those talkative beasts are far more intelligent than the humans in their lives? That premise is found in George Orwell’s “Animal Farm.” But what about the classic story of the talking mule who talked back to his mulish owner? One of the strangest incidents in the Bible is found in Numbers 22:29. It’s where the donkey with two legs yells at the donkey with four legs: “You have made a fool of me!” Talk about a talking donkey!

One of my favorite classics is “Silas Marner.” It’s a story about money and what happens when people crave more money than they have. Silas is destroyed by his loss of money. Silas’ neighbors, the richest people for miles around, love money so much they commit mayhem and murder. They are deceptive, misuse drugs and alcohol, all while trying to gain even more money. Meanwhile, Silas’ gold is replaced by a golden-haired abandoned baby, and by raising her, Silas learns about the value of true gold, while the lovers of money lead desperate and depressing lives. The apostle Paul, in 1 Timothy 6:9-10, gave a classic warning that the events in Silas Marner could happen to us all. “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

Remember that classic story about a young woman who became pregnant by a powerful and popular religious leader? She and her child were ridiculed, mistreated, and avoided by the townsfolk. The young girl was continually punished while the religious leader and father of her illegitimate child became even more popular and powerful. Was that the classic story of Hester Prynne in “The Scarlet Letter”? Or was it the classic story of Hagar in Genesis?

If you are looking for a classic story that has a moral lesson and a plot that is relatable and relevant for all generations for all time, you need look no further than the book that begins with, “In the beginning” and ends with, “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.”

It’s surprising the number of classic stories in the Bible.

Verna Davis, speaker and writer, maybe reached at