“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death...Death is swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:26, 54
"The greater the sin, the greater the mercy, the deeper the death and the brighter the rebirth.” - C. S. Lewis
"This story...has the very taste of primary truth." - J. R. R. Tolkien

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Great Story, Part III

Lewis asks, “If God chooses to be mythopoeic – and is not the sky itself a myth – shall we refuse to be mythopathic? For this is the marriage of heaven and earth: Perfect Myth and Perfect Fact: claiming not only our love and our obedience, but also our wonder and delight, addressed to the savage, the child, and the poet in each one of us no less than to the moralist, the scholar, and the philosopher” (God in the Dock 67). The fantastical nature of the myth – the beauty and grandeur – is not lost because it is fact. Nor is the reality of the fact lost because it is legendary. Rather, both the realism and the magnificence are heightened, and the story rings true all the more.

Lewis concludes that in finding Christianity, he has passed “from dream to waking. Christian theology can fit in science, art, morality, and the sub-Christian religions…I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else” (The Weight of Glory 140). Indeed, the particular story of the man Jesus is a striking fit to that Great Story which has found its way into history and our hearts again and again. It is the only version that is both universal and historically particular enough to be real. It is legendary and epic and beautiful enough for us to want it to be true, and there is historical evidence enough to know that it is true. As Tolkien writes, “The Gospels contain a fairy-story, or a story of a larger kind which embraces all the essence of fairy-stories…But this story has entered History and the primary world; the desire and aspiration of sub-creation has been raised to the fulfillment of Creation…legend and history have met and fused.” (“On Fairy-stories,” The Tolkien Reader 71-72). The happy ending is not a lost dream but a firm and foundational reality. The fairy tale is not a naïve fiction for children, out of which we mature into adulthood, but the greatest and most real of stories, which only the most mature can fully grasp.

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