Have you ever wondered why we have so many fantastic stories? Why are there so many tales about fairies, sprites, leprechauns, hobbits and the like? Two books I have been reading recently can help us answer the question. The first, Frank Boreham’s The Golden Milestone (see my review here), dwells on the imagination of the child:
“He [the child] peoples every crack and crevice in the solar system with fairies and elves; hobgoblins and ghouls. It is the sense of the infinite within him.”
That is to say, the child’s imagination preserves for us some innate knowledge of the grandeur of our universe, that there is more than we can see with our eyes or perceive with our senses. Boreham sees proof of the infinite, of the truth of there being something beyond, in our desire to sail the seas as well:
“I like to watch the swallow turn its face to the ocean, and set fearlessly out over the waters. If I had no other proof of lands beyond the sea, the instinct of the swallow would satisfy me.”
Because we see the swallow fly off every year only to return the next, we know that there are other lands out there. So too the human desire to sail away or to fly away points to there being something more out there. We have this desire because God has planted it within us.
The universal human longing for something more, the fascination in all cultures with beings whose existence we cannot prove, is not vain. The biblical book of Romans tells us that all people have been given an innate knowledge of their Creator. The other book I have been reading helps us understand why this knowledge comes out as a bunch of fairtytales about strange creatures.
In the other book I have been reading, Meaning at the Movies by Grant Horner, the author’s thesis is that we suppress all knowledge of God that we do not wish to acknowledge but that it comes out in other ways. This means that all those fairytale creatures are an expression of our suppressed knowledge that something more does exist and that there is more to creation than the physical world our senses perceive. Because we do not acknowledge the truth of God and His world, this knowledge comes out in other ways. Hobgoblins are one of these ways. They reflect something real which cannot be totally denied by the human psyche, however hard we try.
How then as Christians do we deal with this information? For my own family, I choose not to mix the truth with lies. We never told our kids Santa was real. Perhaps it is a feature of the homeschooling world to which we belong, but I have met a number of adults who profess to believe in fairies and the like. I enjoy stories with fantastic creatures but I do not want my kids to confuse them with real things. Some would go even further and avoid all the stories with untrue elements. Our children have never been confused by fiction as long as we have presented it as fiction. I do think there is a lot of value to fiction. That is one topic I want to get into in another post I am planning based on Horner’s book. For now I will only say that while we do not teach our kids to believe in fairies and hobgoblins, I like that the fantastical element in stories points to the fact that we do live in a mysterious world that contains more than we can easily perceive.