Interfaith Fantasy and Science
Anglican writer Madeleine
L'Engle explores Christian mythology in many of her speculative fiction
novels for children. An American, L'Engle has also written a number of
nonfiction works for adults about Christian life.
And yet we are still being taught that fairy tales and myths are to
be discarded as soon as we are old enough to understand "reality." I had
a disturbed and angry letter from a young mother who told me that a friend
of hers, with young children, gave them only instructive books; she wasn't
going to allow their minds to be polluted with fairy tales. They were going
to be taught the "real" world.
This attitude is a victory for the powers of this world. A friend of
mine, a fine story-teller, remarked to me, "Jesus was not a theologian.
He was God who told stories."
Yes. God who told stories.
St. Matthew says, "And he spake many things to them in parables . .
. and without a parable spake he not to them."
When the powers of this world denigrate and deny the value of story,
life loses much of its meaning; and for many people in the world today,
life has lost its meaning, one reason why every other hospital bed is for
someone with a mental, not a physical illness.
Clyde Kirby writes, "Meaninglessness inhibits fullness of life and is
therefore equivalent to illness. Meaning makes a great many things endurable
– perhaps everything. . . . it is not that 'God' is a myth, but that myth
is the revelation of a divine life in man. It is not we who invent myth;
rather, it speaks to us as a Word of God."
The well-intentioned mothers who don't want their children polluted
with fairy tales would not only deny them their childhood, with its high
creativity, but they would have them conform to the secular world, with
its dirty devices. The world of fairy tale, fantasy, myth, is inimical
to the secular world, and in total opposition to it, for it is interested
not in limited laboratory proofs, but in truth.
When I was a child, reading Hans Christian Andersen's tales, reading
about Joseph and his coat of many colours and his infuriating bragging
about his dreams, reading The Selfish Giant and The Book of Jonah, these
diverse stories spoke to me in the same language, and I knew, intuitively,
that they belonged to the same world. For the world of the Bible, both
the Old and New Testaments, is the world of Story, story which may be able
to speak to us as a Word of God.
["Healed, Whole and Holy," Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith
Site © 1999 Heather Elizabeth
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