"In making a myth, in practicing 'mythopoeia,' and peopling the world with elves and dragons and goblins, a story-teller .. is actually fulfilling God's purpose, and reflecting a splintered fragment of the true light." J.R.R. Tolkien
We have finished listening to Prince Caspian on audio tape. I love this description of celebration after a battle.
Then Bacchus and Silenus and the Maenads began a dance, far wilder than the dance of the trees; not merely a dance for fun and beauty(though it was that too) but a magic dance of plenty, and when their hands touched and where their feet fell, the feast came into existence--- sides of roasted meat that filled the grove with delicious smell, and wheaten cakes and oaten cakes, honey and many coloured sugars and cream as thick as porridge and as smooth as still water, peaches, nectarines, pomengranates, pears, grapes, strawberries, raspberries, pyramids and cataracts of fruit. Then in great wooden cups and bowls and mazers, wreathed with ivy, came the wines…..Then Aslan feasted the Narnians till long after the sunset had died away, and the stars had come out; ….The best thing of all about this feast was that there was no breaking up or going away, but as the talk grew quieter and slower, one after another would begin to nod and finally drop off to sleep with feet towards the fire and good friends on either side, till at last there was silence around the circle…But all night Aslan and the moon gazed upon each other with joyful and unblinking eyes.
It is quite timely as I have been thinking a lot on fairy tales and fables and their importance in the development of a culture. Dh told us this story at the dinner table.
Once a dying man was told by a western doctor, after many invasive tests that he'd had a heart attack and was going to die. But the family were not reconciled to the news and so they called in a Chinese physician. When he came all he did was hold the patients hand for a long time. Then finally he told a beautiful story about the man's life both in the past, where he was now and what he could expect in the future. The same facts as the western doctor were "included" in the sense that everyone knew the man would die but the story helped the family to accept and prepare so much better.
Man is not ultimately a liar. He may pervert his thoughts into lies, but he comes from God, and it is from God that he draws his ultimate ideals ... Not merely the abstract thoughts of man but also his imaginative inventions must originate with God, and in consequence reflect something of eternal truth.
So many Christians are frightened of the word magic. How sad when the word itself came into being through the Word. And if you think of the Supernatural what could be more “magical” than the good God thinking then speaking the world and all its parts into being. Then too as a Catholic surely to a child(and we are all called to have faith such as these)isn’t it magical that a small wafer turns into Christ himself. I can only marvel and kneel in wonder at this Supernatural Power. Of course there is “bad” magic just as evil really does exist but here’s the thing surely its how , what and why something is used for that is important not the thing itself. It puts me in mind a bit of those who decry garden gnomes because they say they are of the occult. Oh for the innocence of a child.
Now the story of Christ is simply a true myth: a myth working on us the same way as the others, but with this tremendous difference that it Really happened: and one must be content to accept it in the same way, remembering that it is God's myth where the others are men's myths; i.e. the Pagan stories are God expressing Himself through the minds of the poets, using such images as He found there, while Christianity is God expressing Himself through what we call 'real things' ... namely, the actual incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection."(Tolkein)