If you are reading this post, chances are you already understand the importance of understanding context–particularly Bible geography–when reading the Bible. But the value of knowing Bible geography is often difficult to convey to others, because they are not yet aware of all that they are missing when they read the Bible without a sense of where it took place. So to help make this gap in understanding more evident to others and demonstrate the value of knowing context, I have written a short story below. The story is recounted twice, with the first rendition containing no real meaningful geographical references. The second rendition is exactly the same as the first, except that meaningful place names (at least for those familiar with the United States today) have been substituted for the names that lacked real meaning in the first rendition.
Story without Meaningful Context:
One day a passenger train was traveling from Alpha City to Bravo City. Soon after the train passed beyond Charlie City, however, it slowed to a stop, and the conductor announced that the train had broken down and would not be able to take the passengers to their final destination. He assured them that alternate transportation would be arranged for them but that it would not arrive for several hours. The passengers soon began to react to the news. A well dressed man from Alpha City immediately pulled out his phone to make other arrangements, but quickly realized there was no mobile phone service this far outside the city. Then he snapped, “There’s no way I’m staying on this train any longer,” so he stepped off the train to begin walking back to Charlie City. But it didn’t take long for him to realize that this was not a good plan for him. A woman from Delta City frantically exclaimed, “But casting starts tomorrow morning! This could mean millions of dollars lost!” A man from Echo City sanctimoniously assured everyone, “You can be sure I will be taking action in Echo City about these deplorable traveling conditions!” A man from Pretendia, however, simply picked up his luggage, jumped down from the train, and non-chalantly began the long trek back to Charlie City.
So what did you think about the story?
Why did each of the people react the way they did?
Is there a discernable “punchline” at the end of the story?
Would you consider this a very interesting or meaningful story?