A Skyline for the Soul: The Music of Jane Kelly Williams
Chesterton, Again

Sensible Fairy Tales

Grimms"I left the fairy tales lying on the floor of the nursery, and I have not found any books so sensible yet."  (G.K. Chesterton, in Orthodoxy)

As a child one of my favorite books was Grimm's Fairy Tales.  The bookcase in our den had a large green hardback version with a magical sort of figure etched into the cover.  It was well-used, as when I started reading it at about seven or eight, the binding was already in poor shape.  I treasured it, carrying it to my room where I lay on the floor by the window and pored over its short stories.  I almost believed them.  Well, maybe sometimes I did believe them, or at least I believed that they could have been true.  Wolves might have talked, but don't.  There could be dwarves, but aren't (at least not the seven dwarves kind).  Stories that struck me as utterly believable then, as quite sensible, now seem preposterous seen from an adult perspective.  And yet, like Chesterton, next to the one outrageous and preposterous Story that we Christians hold to, they seem very, very sensible.

What Chesterton observes is that in contrast to the modern world's scientific fatalism -- the sense that "everything is as it must always have been" -- fairy tales reminded him that the "facts" of existence are really miraculous and willful, things that could have been different but are not, occurrences like sunsets that repeat themselves perhaps not because of some impersonal and deterministic dynamic but because a Being willed it, because a Being even enjoyed it.  This Being could have things be this way or that, repeat or not repeat.  And so things are as they are -- grass is green and sky is blue -- by choice.  In this sense, fairy tales remind us of the wild possibilities for the world.  Things could have been different; that they are as they are is a miracle and a delight.

The Gospel is the fairy tale of all fairy tales.  It is a story that no materialist can believe.  When people come back from the dead, the scientist or materialist chalks it up to fantasy.  And it is. . . fantastic that is.  But like C.S. Lewis said, the Gospel is the true myth.  And we might just as well say it's the true fairy tale.

At Christmas, I like to think I'm living inside a beautiful dream or an unfolding drama or a grand fairy tale that's true.  It's miraculous.  A transcendent Being, the one who dreamed it all up, wrote himself into the human drama, taking the modest form of a baby, spending most of his life making furniture and helping build houses for folks and then getting himself killed and coming back from the dead to walk around and eat and talk like a normal person.  That's a fairy tale.  It didn't have to happen that way.  Only it did -- by choice.

God's Fairy Tale.  If I didn't own the book already, I'd buy it.

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