What’s a Parable?

My friend Ron Reed happened to quote writer C.H. Dodd today in offering the definition of the word “parable.” Ron referenced this in summing up the virtues of The Return, my favorite film of 2004.

It struck me that, while this definition sums up Jesus’ style of storytelling, it also sums up most of the movies that end up becoming my favorites:

A parable is:

A metaphor or simile

drawn from nature or common life

arresting the hearers by its vividness or strangeness

and leaving the mind in sufficient doubt to its precise application

to tease the mind into active thought.

Doesn’t that apply to most of the films you end up having long talks about with your friends and neighbors?

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet has two passions: writing fiction, and celebrating art — music, cinema, photography, literature — through writing and teaching. He is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” — Through a Screen Darkly. And his four-novel fantasy series, The Auralia Thread, which begins with Auralia's Colors, was published by Random House. He speaks at universities and conferences around the world about understanding art through eyes of faith. He is earning his MFA in Creative Writing at Seattle Pacific University, where he has worked for 11 years as an editor, writer, and communications project manager. His work has been recognized in The New Yorker, TIME, The Seattle Times, IMAGE, Ravi Zacharias International — and Christianity Today, where he served as a film journalist for more than a decade. He recently began a weekly column called "Listening Closer" for Christ and Pop Culture.


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