Faithful Fairy Tales
Our culture needs more than faithful pastors and theologians, we also need faithful fairy tales and writers. We need pastors and theologians to help us understand the depth and mystery within God’s Word. We need artists, filmmakers, and the writers of parables and fairy tales to create stories that inspire us afresh. We must avoid the trap of dismissing fairy tales and creativity as unimportant or unessential. As C.S. Lewis points out, in the pursuit of “growing up” we run the risk of losing something precious.
Dragons, Angels & Kings
It is a noble task to inspire our children with stories of dragons, angels and great kings. We need to foster their sense of wonder, and develop a hopeful vision in their hearts. After all, our story is about a great king who will stop at nothing to redeem us and help us to find our way back home to his majestic city.
If our God is the same yesterday, today and forever, why do we act as if He will not continue to surprise us? When did we learn we needed to grow up and put away such things?
How Did We Get Here?
It may be tragic, but isn’t some great conspiracy. Teenagers naturally long to prove they are adults and no longer kids. Parents naturally long for their children to become wise men and women. Somewhere along the way the child and the parent tacitly agree to focus on the serious, the practical, and the vocational life of these future adults.
Bit by bit, the wonder of fairy tales and biblical stories, along with the hope-infused world of miracles and angels is replaced by the utilitarian, and the 9 to 5. Whether our children become engineers or Imagineers, we dare not lose the proper sense of wonder that comes from fantasy.
“When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown-up.”
– C.S. Lewis
A Serious Subject
Fairy tales are a serious subject. They are not devices used to distract children away from reality, but rather to help them understand the true nature of reality. No matter how fanciful or imaginative the stories may be, they play a critical role in the moral imagination of society. Fairy tales invite us to leave behind the familiar in order that we might refocus our eyes to finally see the truth that was there all along.
Every story written invites you on a journey. Every film says something about the nature of reality, the existence of God or the value of The True, The Good and The Beautiful. It may be overt. It may be subtle. But it is there, speaking to the audience about something that is true or something that is a lie.
Faith like a Child
The imagination of a child is endless. They don’t hesitate to imagine worlds of talking animals like those in Narnia. They don’t discredit stories because they have hobbits or dwarfs. They enter the story and as their imagination takes flight.
We have grown up in a culture that dismisses such stories as myth. But we know, as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien pointed out, all other myths point to the “True Myth,” which is the Gospel. Only there does the king truly save his people from death, and invite them to the grand wedding feast. All other stories are mere echoes of this one grand, true story.
We cannot grow up thinking we are more mature spiritually because we don’t read fairy tales or parables. We are losing something precious. But what is different? God has not changed. It is our perspective that has changed. Consider the encouragement of Madeleine L’engle,
“The artist, if he is not to forget how to listen, must retain the vision which includes angels and dragons and unicorns, and all the lovely creatures which our world would place out in a box marked Children only.”
– Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water
Take time today to listen carefully, to ask God to inspire you once again with His wonder, and remember the joy and fascination you felt as a kid when your imagination was rich and deep. You were never meant to lose that. So don’t!
God Still Inspires
God still inspires men and women like you, to foster the imagination of His people and to tell new stories that capture His love for His people.
He is still at work.
He is still speaking to our hearts.
He is still providing inspiration.
The question is if we have the eyes to see and ears to hear it. So pray today, asking God to give you a faith like a child, with eyes and ears to understand what He is doing afresh today. Consider how you might inspire a new generation with a fresh story which captures our imagination and points us to Christ.
Becoming Faithful Creatives Today
Consider these fantastical stories in the Bible, and how they filled your mind with wonder as a child:
1 Burning bushes that are never consumed.
2 A teenage girl giving birth to God’s son.
3 Grand dreams, and men and women who can interpret them.
4 The God of the universe speaking through a donkey.
Do you still believe He can speak through animals and speak to His people through Angels? (Or do you think God has no more surprises in store for His people)
My prayer for you is that you become as little children, in awe of all God has done. May you be filled with a sense of wonder today as your imagination is fueled by God himself.
I would love it if you would share your journey:
Does your art and creative work reflect this surprise and wonder of a child as you read Scripture?
What kind of art do you use to inspire others, so that they may see the world through the eyes of a child, and begin to encounter God in all his mysterious wonder?
Copyright © 2022 Joel & Michelle Pelsue. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission.