The Seventh Story | Gareth Higgins and Brian McLaren

The following is an excerpt from The Seventh Story, a brand-new release from Gareth Higgins and Brian McLaren about the six stories that divide us and the Seventh Story that unites. It’s paired with a unique, beautifully-illustrated children’s book they’ve also written, both of which are available for order in time for Christmas at

Violence doesn’t create anything.

That’s a radioactive statement. When I say it in certain circles, the negative reaction is swift and unambiguous. It’s ironic that conversation about reducing violence often results in a fight. But the outcome of even that fight proves the point: violence doesn’t create anything. Except suffering, of course.

People react to this suggestion with such intense opposition for a number of reasons. We have been taught from the earliest age the opposite: that violence works.

We have been inculcated through our national and community rituals that violent sacrifice is noble, and that our freedoms were not only secured by the deaths of our forebears (and the killing they carried out), but that such death and killing was the only way it could have happened.

And we have been nurtured into a catechism of fearing the world, so that we must always have violence as a recourse, because we never know when they are going to target us.

It’s perfectly reasonable, if such premises were true, to live fearful and ready to kill.

But the premises are false.

The suffering caused by violence, even in the most noble of causes, does not end when the shooting stops.

The current global crisis is a crisis of storytelling.
The threat of the world today is lied about every time you open your computer or switch on your phone. Terror lives in your pocket on a device that does not differentiate between wisdom, information, propaganda, and deceit. The good news is that you can learn more than ever before, connect quicker, and heal yourself (some of the world’s great healers and healing techniques are mobile apps). The challenge (and the invitation) is that you need to learn how to edit what you’re seeing. No one else will do that for you. It is in the interests of the military-industrial-entertainment-gossip-complex that you stay unconscious, and click on as many links as possible.

We have become possessed by the myth of redemptive violence, manifesting through six old stories that keep us apart, cause more suffering by attempting to avoid it, and simply do not work. Telling the story in those ways exaggerates fear, and violence will increase. The redemption of the myth of redemptive violence is not to destroy it by beating the “bad guys” at their own game. No.

The way to redeem the myth of redemptive violence is to de-story it: to refuse to play the game at all. 

To invent a new game. Tell the story in a new way that decreases fear, and violence will reduce.

To continue reading, and to order the children’s book edition in time for Christmas, visit

Bonus: Hear Gareth and Brian talk about what inspired them to write a children’s book, with Tripp Fuller on Homebrewed Christianity! 

About the Authors

Brian D. McLaren is an author, speaker, activist, and public theologian. A former college English teacher and pastor, he is a passionate advocate for “a new kind of Christianity”—just, generous, and working with people of all faiths for the common good. He is an Auburn Senior Fellow and a leader in the Convergence Network, through which he is developing an innovative training/mentoring program for pastors, church planters, and lay leaders called Convergence Leadership Project. He works closely with the Center for Progressive Renewal/Convergence, the Wild Goose Festival and the Fair Food Program’s Faith Working Group. You can find him at

 Gareth Higgins was born just outside Belfast in 1975, grew up during the northern Ireland Troubles, and now lives in North Carolina. As a storyteller, retreat leader, and festival director, co-founder of the Wild Goose FestivalMovies & Meaning, and The Porch Magazine, and the New Story Festival, Gareth writes and speaks about the power of stories to shape our lives for better or worse, connection to the earth, cinema and the power of dreams, peace and making justice, and how to take life seriously without believing your own propaganda. He’s happy to be a work in progress, and you can find him at


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    […] people I appreciate – Gareth Higgins and Brian McLaren have created a project about our stories. They’ve called it The Seventh Story. They’ve identified six stories people […]

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