A metanarrative or grandnarrative is a narrative about narratives of historical meaning, experience, or knowledge, which offers a society legitimation through the anticipated completion of a (as yet unrealized) master idea.
From a metanarrative we develop values, beliefs, and Operative Narratives.
Metanarratives are unique to humans, they are ideas of how the world works, or perhaps, how it should work; often crystallised in stories.
These stories are transferred through language, culture, laws, customs, poetry, music, festival; and they largely form the basis of religion. They help us cooperate and build communities, kingdoms, empires, nation states etc. If an individual fails to adhere to these anchors, they are Exiled either through space (sent out of the community) or time (executed).
When the sociopolitical environment where these stories originated change, it leads to chaos. For the community to survive, the stories will need upgrading to adapt to these new challenges. A community that fails to adapt effectively perishes.
We see this in the changes of the voice of writers in the volume of literature that constitutes what we know today as the Bible. Each writer was doing theology based on the sociopolitical challenges they were faced with. Hence it is irrational to the treat the Bible as a book, or complete project.
We ought to be doing exactly what the writers were doing in light of the data and evidence at our disposal today. In fact those writers will find it hilarious to know that we have made little or no progress on the work they started.
For instance, scholars argue that there is more in terms of social and spiritual value from the humanity of Jesus than the idea of his divinity.
Consequently, Jesus’ call to repentance was a bid for a change in the metanarratives of his audience. When he responded to Nicodemus’ question with the advice, be ‘born again’ or ‘born from above’; he was encouraging an unlearning of bad scripts from his Operative Narrative. His teaching about being like ‘little children’ or new wine in new wine skin was with a view that we put on what John Rawls will much later refer to as ‘the Veil of ignorance’ in his seminal piece: The Theory of Justice. Clearly, Jesus was advancing a case for personal transformation to his audience in ancient Palestine.
Join us for Operating Narratives, when I will be expanding my thoughts on personal transformation; with particular focus on triggers, tapes and transference.
3:00-4:30pm, coffee afterwards.
St John’s Hall
Sidcup DA14 6BX
Reachout | Revive | Recover