Monday, November 24, 2008

Myth Makers Pt. 1

I've been reading Alan Jacobs informative biography of C. S. Lewis entitled The Narnian: the Life and Imagination of C. S. Lewis. It is neither brutally skeptical nor dully academic nor another tedious romanticizing of the man. It takes Lewis at face value, offering some pretty fair critiques of reasons and motives behind "Jack's" (as Lewis' family and friends called him) actions, and permitted me to delve a little deeper into knowing the man behind the myth.

Lewis loved faerie stories but most especially the stark heroism and pathos of the Norse mythos. "Balder the Brave is dead, is dead!" These words captured his heart - and Professor J.R.R. Tolkien, his senior by six years - was the one who called Lewis to task on this inconsistent love affair he had. He pointed out to Jack that if he encountered the story of a dying god in myth, he appreciated it - was moved by it, touched deeply by its beauty. But if he met its parallel in Christianity - specifically in Christ - he disliked it intensely, saying it was "too barbaric." He pushed Jack on this point and said, in so many words, "Don't you see Jack? Christianity is the True Myth! Myth became fact!"

It happened. "Once upon a time, in a land far, far away..."

This hit Lewis hard. It showed him his bias against the faith he was raised with. It put his hard skepticism to rout. His love of fantasy and truth in equal measure put him in an unappealing dilemma.

Lewis loved heroism, gods, myths, the heavenlies, high drama and poetry. He was enchanted by these things. If Christianity were true, then the myths had become real - at a certain place in a certain time. He was drawn in by this reasoning, simultaneously horrified and intrigued and finding no honest way out. It was G. K. Chesterton's wit that helped deliver the final blow, IMHO.

I am often blunt and foolish in so many ways, but I understand Lewis perfectly here.

The reason my blogs are about superheroes and movies and shows is that these are our modern myths - the legendary heroes you and I grow up with. Like Lewis, I found my joy in comics and fantasy and SF - and though I attended church regularly, there was no joy there.

It wasn't that I did not believe the Bible was true (one way or another) or that Jesus was the son of God, its just that there is nothing mythical about sitting on a pew listening to a pastor preach a sermon he doesn't hardly believe for twenty-five minutes.

No one worked any miracles, though they are in the Bible. No one did anything major except act nice and sympathetic.

Let me tell you, discovering that Jesus was MORE than some "Christianized" philosophy or form of religious humanitarianism, was terrible blow.

Jesus is alive - and could speak! The "myth" became fact in my very life.

The night He spoke to me [yes, literally - I heard Him] immediately squelched all arguments otherwise, but since then He has done most of His work subtly. I grow - like all saints - by obedience to His commands by listening to His Word. It doesn't matter how old you are, it matters how much you obey.

Another strange thing is happening: my life is slowly turning "mythical". I mean that. I have had more and more strange events turn serendipitously in my favor than a Die Hard movie.

Once I was not real - to myself or to others - and now Jesus is making a myth out of even me.

Something - some one - that can bear "the weight of glory" as Lewis' would put it.

May He do the same for you today, dear Narnian.


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