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The Kindling: Read the Tragedy, Live the Comedy

“I hate the book,” replied one of my students. “The end is so depressing.”

She was right, the story is tragic. The American Dream kills Willy Loman. It devours the ambitious salesman and doesn't apologize.

Unlike A Raisin in the Sun, hope doesn’t greet you at the closing of Death of a Salesman, just the dark wake of Loman’s choices. Still, I have to agree with Aristotle, tragic stories are valuable, practical. Often given a choice, I’ll read the tragedy and pass on the comedy.

But what kind of a story do I want my life to be? I've learned from enough tragedies to know: a comedy, of course. Left to my own sales pitches, I'm doomed to tragedy. My only hope is the unexpected, the undeserved, the unimaginable.

God took on flesh...

In Christ my story is unexpected, undeserved, unimaginable. Because of Christ, my life is a comedy. Yours?


The overall plot of the Bible is a U-shaped comic plot. The action begins with a perfect world inhabited by perfect people. It descends into the misery of fallen history and ends with a new world of total happiness and the conquest of evil. The book of Revelation is the story of the happy end per excellence, as a conquering hero defeats evil, marries a bride and lives happily ever after in a palace glittering with jewels.”

— Leland Ryken

"Comedy as Plot Relief" in Dictionary of Biblical Imagery

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