Story Catcher makes sense as a book project. Like many people who have been privileged to listen to Dick Duerksen tell stories at camp-meetings, youth programs, weeks of prayer and in print over the decades, he is one of my favourite story-tellers. So a volume that collects 25 of his favourite stories, including a few from the South Pacific and a selection of re-imagined Bible stories, will catch the attention of many of us. And the opportunity to read some of his reflections on the art of storytelling would be a workshop that many of us would attend.
However, Story Catcher has been presented in a format that is trying to do three things at once—it is a collection of remarkable stories, it is a why and how-to of storytelling, and includes prompts to devotional reflections at the end of each story. This can make for an uneven experience for the beginning-to-end reader, but works well for casual and occasional reading. And the strength of the stories more than carries the book along and will have you wanting to share the story you just read with someone nearby.
While many of the stories narrate miracles, Pastor Duerksen’s commentary is also alert to how such stories can sometimes grow in memory and re-telling, raise troubling questions and can be open to alternative interpretations. He reflects on the importance of listening to other people’s stories, asking careful questions and being similarly careful in their re-telling. However, his sense of circumspection serves to emphasise and authenticate the incredible stories he tells.
As such, Story Catcher is not only a celebration of stories, it is also testimony to a God who is active in our world. Readers will undoubtedly enjoy the stories Pastor Duerksen has “caught”, but we are also invited to become “story catchers” in our own right, increasingly alert to the presence and interventions of God in the lives of those around us and even in our own lives.
Story Catcher is available from Adventist bookstores in Australia and New Zealand, and online at adventistbookcentre.com.au.