Daniel Taylor on the Power of Words

Dan Taylor, a literature professor at Bethel University in MN has written two of my favorite books on how words and stories shape people and communicate truth: Tell Me A Story: The Life Shaping Power of Our Stories and Letters to My Children: A Father Passes On His Values. No single author has done as much as Taylor to enhance and enrich my love and appreciation for the written word and its significance. Here are some of my favorite excerpts of richness from these two books. He has written others which point in different directions and are also excellent

On Stories:

“Stories turn mere chronology, one thing after another, into the purposeful action of plot, and thereby into meaning.” (TMAS, p. 2)

“. . .we are, when under the spell of stories, willing to believe that good is more powerful than evil, that death is preferable to dishonour, that perseverance pays, that truth is more than a word and justice more than a definition of the powerful, that love exists – if only in the cracks. And if we believe all this, and much more, while the story is being told, we do not abandon that belief entirely when we return to our own personal stories.” (TMAS, p. 16-17)

“A good story is one that makes you good, or at least better.” (TMAS, p.55)

On Truth:

“True does not mean factual (though it may be factual); true means accurately reflecting human experience.” (TMAS, p. 116)

On The Power of Words:

“Words have an almost unlimited power to destroy and to heal. Nothing is more false than the implication of the phrase ‘words, words, words – nothing but words’.” (TMAS p. 119)

“A primary interment of oppression is silence.” (TMAS, p.119)

“Through words flows the energy of the universe to create and destroy. Words have done more to shape the human experience than all the swords, guns, bombs, and missiles ever made. Words are infinitely more important than money in our lives.” (LTMC, p.104)

On Death:

“We die because we have lived. We live in order to know and love the God who made us. In dying we become more real than we ever can be while part of this sorrowful world.” (LTMC p.28)

On Right and Wrong:

“People talk about breaking a law. In one sense you never really break a law – the law stays the same no matter what you do. What you can do is break yourself by ignoring the fact of the law. If you step off a cliff, the law of gravity is not broken, but you may be.” (LTMC, p. 48)

These are just a sampling of the insights Dan Taylor offers readers. Buy his books. Savor them. They are full of a richness that is not easy to find.