A Materialist in Fairyland–Part 2

Christians shouldn’t be against fairy stories, though often they are. Often times they are turned off to them because of the same reason that materialists are. They avoid being exposed to such nonsense as elves and enchantments. Others are offended by the magic in such stories. This is a valid concern though not necessarily a reason to avoid reading them. Christian should rather find something familiar in fairy stories. We too live in a realm that has a parallel existence with a supernatural one. God’s ways can be quite foreign to us. We are the ones that are living unnaturally with our sin. What we consider natural may not be natural at all, but a perversion of what God has created. When God comes into our world we find a set of rules beyond our own. Love your enemy, bless those who curse you. People who deserve death receiving life. In a world ruled by Karma, in Grace invades. Its like believing you have always been walking upright to suddenly discover that you’re actually upside down. God’s rules of reality prove to be something quite different then ours. A being that can be 100% God and 100% man. A God who is 100% in charge of history, while at the same time maintaining our free will. It is a logic that is far above our understanding. I will admit that such a world makes me feel uncomfortable. Its a little scary when people don’t play by “our” rules. Then again its God’s rules and ways that count, not ours. There is no sense in trying to keep God out of the world; it’s his world.

Another benefit of fairy stories and fiction literature in general is the truth they contain. Just because something is a story doesn’t mean it is untrue. The word myth and story today have come to connote something untrue. For people in other ages and cultures that was not so. C.S. Lewis and Tolkien were two people who believed in the truth of myths and stories. I would have to agree. In fact, I think that so called fiction has the potential to contain far more truth than non-fiction. Now this is a difficult concept to grasp. It is goes against what our culture commonly understands. A simple example will help make the leap easier. The parable of the prodigal son is familiar to most. However, the story is not true. Though there may have been similar cases where sons wanted their inheritances earlier, ran off, squandered it, and came back begging for mercy, Jesus invented his own story. What he described in the story did not literally occurs in history. Yet the story is also very true. Its illustration of God’s love and forgiveness of sinners is absolutely true. Stories can contain important truth within their simple guises. Often stories can illuminate or discover a truth that otherwise would have been missed by a systematic treatise on philosophy or theology. Tolkien also valued stories for there ability to cause truths to stand out that we might otherwise have missed because its familiarity. Like suddenly seeing some beautiful scenery on you normal drive to work. You had forgotten how beautiful it was because is was so familiar.

Fairy stories can be true in this way. The more masterful a story teller is, the more truth that might be lurking beneath the surface. Of course stories can also be untrue in this sense. However, I would argue that the best stories are also true. Why would there be so many fairy stories about the man winning the beautiful maiden despite difficulties? Because we want it to be true. Something inside of us senses that that is the way it should be. The story accurately reveals the longings inside the human heart. With out much explanation I will say that that this sensing is right. Only Adam in the garden, before the fall, experienced romance as it should be. Stories that are not true don’t usually make enjoyable reading. Who wants to read about a nihilistic world where the material world is all there is and will ever be. Only if you enjoy being depressed would you find pleasure in reading such a story. If they do they catch our attention it is because of the disharmony between it and the truth.

Well I feel like I have exhausted the topic of fairy stories for one post, actually several. Reading fairy stories has its benefits, not just for children, but for adults as well. Elves, dwarfs, dragons, goblins, and fairies are not just for those that enjoy the company of imaginary friends. They are quite solid, at times more solid than this ever shifting world.


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