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Christmas: The Fairytale Come True

Tolkein quoteThe final Hobbit movie is now out: The Battle of the Five Armies. The whole series of Hobbit films takes 9 hours to watch but the book, written by JRR Tolkein, takes about 5 hours to read. I’d still put money on more people going to the movies to see it. But the Hobbit is a Fairy Story – a tale about Middle Earth – about Hobbits and Dwarves and Elves and Orcs. It’s make believe right? There’s no truth to stories like these, is there? They’re just fantasies – they’re about Dragons and magic rings, there’s nothing real about these stories, is there? It’s all just escapist entertainment, right?

That’s what CS Lewis thought, at one point. CS Lewis went on to write the Narnia books but to begin with, Lewis was not a believer in God nor was he a believer in fairy tales. He loved fairytales. But he thought they were “Lies breathed through silver.” He said this to Tolkein while they were walking along the Cherwell River in Oxford – they were both Oxford dons. CS Lewis was then very shocked by Tolkein’s response.  Tolkein, who was a Christian – a very devout Catholic – said to Lewis “No. They are NOT LIES.” Fairytales are NOT LIES. What on earth could Tolkein mean?

Well he spells it all out in an essay called “On Fairy-Stories.” And he says, there’s something in fairy stories that appeals to our deepest intuitions about the way life ought to be. And in all fairy stories you’ll find some combination of the following:

Love without parting.

Life triumphing over death

Good triumphing over evil.

Heroes winning through sacrifice...

 

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