25 August, 2009

Truth in Fairy Tales...

So after a break it's back to Chesterton. I have to admit some of this book is over my head, but I think it will be one I come back to again and again because it will always have something to teach me about God.

Chesterton writes about the beauty of fairy tales and letting those be our yardsticks instead of science. Science is the loss of reason; it is the suspension of true knowledge because it denies something intrinsic to who we are. There is more true reason in fairy tales, he argues, than in the things men try to give reason to.

"In the fairy tale an incomprehensible happiness rests upon an incomprehensible condition. A box opened and all evils fly out. A word is forgotten and cities perish. A lamp is lit, and love flies away. … An apple is eaten, and the hope of God is gone." (53)

It is imagination (being in wonder, realizing it can't all be explained, living in joy, hope and beauty) vs. science (trying to prove everything, refusing to be awed, denying beauty and God in all things).

"I found the whole modern world talking scientific fatalism, saying that everything is as it must always have been…(instead of) every colour has in it a bold quality of choice." (56) Snow is white when it could have been blue; birds are colorful when they could have been dull.

How can someone appreciate art and yet deny the Ultimate Painter? Or appreciate the statue of David yet deny the One who sculpted the mountains? How can you love fairy tales with all their wonder, magic and saving without acknowledging the Prince battling for your life? It's like when we are force to grow up we abandon reason for stupidity! We deny wonder for what is provable. And when we can't prove it (aren't those the best parts of a fairy tale - that force us to leave what we "know" behind?) we take away the reasonable conclusion (that God is there) and settle for monotony. It's like the emperor's new clothes – only no one will admit that science is naked. "It just is" is more acceptable that "Someone made it" – really?

Some people want a dramatic gesture to see God. They want purple snow or the "sun to dance"… "But the repetition in Nature seems sometimes to be excited repetition." (57) In our lives we do the same things over and over and only vary because of death or boredom. But when we look for joy or peace we do the same activity or go to the same place. Why can't God be the same way?

"His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush in life. The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find a game or joke that they specially enjoy… They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again," to the moon. It might not be automatic necessity that makes all daises alike; it might be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned, grown old and but Father is younger than we. The repetition in Nature may not be mere recurrence, it may be a theatrical encore." (58)

Doesn't this make you love God? How can you not be drawn to Him? How can you not want to fall down and love a God so full of wonder and joy? He created a world for us to enjoy – He sees how much we've messed it up and yet keeps giving us beauty. We have trashed His workroom, scattered the paints, destroyed the canvas, turned over the pottery, broken the lamps. Instead of being angry God starts to clean it up, repairing what was broken, knowing it will all be destroyed again tomorrow. And He does it out of love. It would be so easy for Him to throw up His hands and say, "Enough with you." But His ultimate compassion, love and grace won't allow Him. Besides, He loves His creation too much to give into our cynicism.

It is a battle against reason or intelligence, maturity to stay with God in a childlike innocence and see His joy at all He makes.

I only want to trust a God like that and maybe if we could forfeit our "adulthood" we would all be able to dance and celebrate this awesome God more.

Is a Peter Pan complex a bad thing? It would allow you to face the storms more, I think, because you could see a silver lining. I am repeatedly amazed at the resilience of children. And maybe they take things better because imagination hasn't been squashed yet. They haven't been told to stop believing so they can easily trust that the waves will settle.

Make believe isn't bad because it allows for wonder and lets us rest in the Truth that something is going on beyond the surface, beyond our vision. We can take the dragons because we know a Prince will come defeat them. That is the point of a fairy tale: good always wins! In the end, when hope seems lost – good wins!

How can you read Lord of the Rings and not believe in God? How can you adore Disney movies without seeing the Higher Truth? We are drawn to make believe not because it is childish but because it speaks to our core.

"I've always believed that the world involved magic: now I thought perhaps it involved a magician…this world of our has some purpose; and if there is a purpose, there is a person. I had always felt like first as a story: and if there is a story there is a storyteller." (59)

More and more I am becoming convinced that it takes more faith not to believe in God. It takes more to deny all the signs, logic, the calling of the heart and say, "God isn't there." To face the evil of this world without God is impossible. You will shut down and never again be able to truly consider or enjoy anything. Without God there is no hope, love, joy, meaning. But it takes more faith and pride to stay there.

Man messed things up. We toil and pain and refuse to believe anything because man and sin have clouded our lives. Yet we still crave nature and beauty and make believe.

Jesus promoted an upside down kingdom so could it be that fairy tales relay truth while "reason" promotes heresy?

Why can't I still trust the idea of fairy tale? They expound truth close to God. They promote justice, equality and hope – a peasant can become a princess, an eleventh house rescue can come, a hobbit can save us all.
 
I want to believe in a world where this can be because without the chance of it life is too bleak – to pull make believe is to pull hope, joy, innocence. You cannot appreciate beauty if you do not appreciate make believe. Make believe allows wonder.

I choose to believe in a God that says, "Do it again!" to the sun with jubilant expectation. And I hope I never loose my ability to stand there with Him in expectant joy.

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© Amanda Lunday