Tuesday, 9 December 2008

The Great Story

The latest newsletter of the C. S. Lewis Society (of California - I'm not a member, but it is a mightily interesting newsletter!) dropped into my inbox. I didn't used to watch many films, but in the last couple of years my wife and I have had a "movie night" (DVD) most weeks. To me a good film has a final confrontation between good and evil in which half the universe is destroyed along the way; to my wife a good film ends with the smouldering Victorian hunk getting a smooch at the altar with his hard-won bride. But, no need to spend time pyschoanalysing any of that... let's pass on to the bit of the newsletter that caught my eye:
"New Book Presents Skeptic's Appreciation of The Chronicles of Narnia:

... Along the way, she has come to appreciate Lewis's immense accomplishment in the Narniad, but largely believes that this relates solely to Lewis's use of pre-Christian legends and symbols and that the Christian imagery was inappropriate and a "betrayal"... Her error lies in failing to appreciate Lewis's (and J.R.R. Tolkein's, Charles Williams's and G.K. Chesterton's) deppert point that all truly good literature, including ancient legend, reflects shadowings of Christian truth. For Lewis, the difference betwen standard myth and Christianity is not that the former is more authentic myth, but that Christianity is most authentically what Tolkein called "true myth", in which the truths embedded in those legends, which although untrue have inspired and thrilled generatations for millenia, became all too real (DA: not too real!) in the true story of Jesus Christ."
Hear, hear, and amen. This is what caught my attention as I have sat back to reflect on the common themes of the films I have watched. There are themes which human story-tellers seem irresistably attracted to. A fight between good and evil. Love that is stronger than death. A flawless hero who conquers all against overwhelming odds. A promised one who fulfils his destiny. A last battle that brings half the world down in the process. A new beginning won at a terrible cost. Redemption. And so on, and so forth.

It's as if these themes were woven somehow in the fabric of existence, even though most of us personally have never encountered even one of those aspects at any order of magnitude, though we find echoes of them here and there in different events in life. That's the point. Those themes are woven into the fabric of existence; history is indeed, his story. That's one of the reasons why, in combination with the power of God's Spirit, the good news of Christ our conquering hero-Saviour-Redeemer, is so powerful in all times, places and cultures. It is, as Tolkein says, "the true myth". And hence I've taken up Douglas Wilson's advice and started reading Narnia to my children!

No comments: