Counter-narrative

I was that dorky kid that always had a book in his hand. And more likely than not, that book was about World War II.

My curiosity about WW II probably stemmed from both my grandfathers who served in the war. I was raised on their stories and treasured their Army artifacts: both tangible and abstract.

So I read just about everything I could about the war: textbooks, biographies, autobiographies, memoirs, scholarly journals, popular magazines. You name it, I read it.

With all that knowledge, from being steeped in the lore and history of the war, then why does a single novel that I read about WW II stand out in my mind? It’s strange that I should remember one little story I read once instead of all the other scholarly and factual stuff.

Well, it’s probably because that little novel is “Catch-22” by Joseph Heller. That little book packs a punch (and that’s why I’m reading it again). Why does it pack such a punch? Because it’s a counter-narrative. It subverts the dominant paradigm. “Catch-22” tells the story of WW II that we don’t hear; the story we don’t want to hear. But that’s precisely why it stands out.

If you don’t want to read “Catch-22” I totally understand. But if you want to read another popular counter-narrative, I bet you have one at home; or at work; or even on your iPhone. It’s called the Bible.

The Bible is subversive. It’s a counter-narrative. The Bible and its story challenges the dominant paradigm. The rich don’t get richer. The strong don’t get stronger. Might doesn’t make right. Don’t believe me? Read the Song of Mary and see if it doesn’t stand against the story of the world:

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; *
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. 
From this day all generations will call me blessed: *
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name. 
He has mercy on those who fear him *
in every generation. 
He has shown the strength of his arm, *
he has scattered the proud in their conceit. 
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, *
and has lifted up the lowly. 
He has filled the hungry with good things, *
and the rich he has sent away empty. 
He has come to the help of his servant Israel, *
for he has remembered his promise of mercy, 
The promise he made to our fathers, *
to Abraham and his children for ever. 
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: * 
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. 
Amen.

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