I recently finished the fantasy classic, WAR FOR THE OAKS by Emma Bull (1987). A marvelous read – the more fun because my parents, brothers, sisters, wife and in-laws all grew up in various parts of Minneapolis and I knew most of the places where the battles took place – the assumptions of virtually all fantasy writers crystallized some thoughts floating around in my head.
The quote that started it all: “The message of the [brownie] clean apartment, the bread, the mended jacket was, ‘The irritants are gone, the mundane details are taken care of. The important matters are left to you.” This is as clear a definition of faerie stories as I’ve ever heard. I do not doubt that C.S. Lewis, Philip Pullman and J.R.R. Tolkien would have agreed wholeheartedly.
The message of a life in Christ is exactly the opposite. The quote above might be re-written: “The message of cleaning house, baking bread and mending jackets was, ‘The irritants are here, you need to take care of the mundane details. The important matters are given to Jesus Christ.'”
I think this is why we love fantasy – WE, the mundane, mortal hobbits, Pevensies, Eddi McCandrys, Thomas Covenants, Lyra Belacquas and Despereaux Tillings – can play a decisive role in what happens in the world and universe at large. Great events depend from the lives, thoughts and actions of small people.
But the facts speak loudly otherwise. Even the great are mostly forgotten and the reality we live seems at times short and desperate. Who REALLY “Remembers the Alamo”? Is the “day that will live in infamy” still living there or has it been moved out by more horrible days – or was it evicted in September of 2001 or by some other newer event?
The message of the Gospel is that while we must deal with the mundane, God has taken care of the important matters once and for all.
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” I Peter 5:6-7