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 is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” called Through a Screen Darkly, and a four-volume series of fantasy novels called The Auralia Thread, which includes Auralia’s Colors, Cyndere’s Midnight, Raven’s Ladder, and The Ale Boy’s Feast. Jeffrey is a contributing editor for Seattle Pacific University’s Response magazine, and he writes about art, faith, and culture for Image, Filmwell, and his own website, LookingCloser.org. His work has also appeared in Paste, Relevant, Books and Culture, and Christianity Today (where he was a film columnist and critic for almost a decade). He lives in Shoreline, Washington. Visit him on Facebook at facebook.com/jeffreyoverstreethq.


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