Myth Become Fact

By Brent King On April 4, 2015 Under Lessons in Fantasy

resurrection-graphic-3From ancient times men have told fantasy tales. To the casual observer, these stories are so far out there that there couldn’t possibly be any truth in them. Yet the strange thing about fantasy is that it must conform to truth.

William Stafford was so convinced of this that he said, “If you live by truth any thought belongs.”

Carl Jung spent a lifetime reasoning that basic truth is embedded deep in our minds, culture, history, and myths. He believed these truths revealed themselves in what he called archetypes.

The Connection Between Fantasy and Fact

In an article in Christianity Today called Myth Matters, Louis A. Markos talks about CS Lewis and how he connected these fantasy tales, or myths, to the Truth:

“One of CS Lewis’s greatest services as an apologist was to demonstrate that in the person of Christ we encounter a figure whose life, death, and resurrection, far from standing in opposition to the mythic heroes of paganism, in fact present a literal, historical fulfillment of what all those earlier myths were really about. To put it another way, just as Christ came not to abolish the Law but to fulfill it, so he came not to put an end to myth but to take all that is most essential in the myth up into himself and make it real.”

The heart of Christianity is a myth which is also a fact. The old myth of the Dying God, without ceasing to be myth, comes down from the heaven of legend and imagination to the earth of history. It happens—at a particular date, in a particular place, followed by definable historical consequences. We pass from a Balder or an Osiris, dying nobody knows when or where, to a historical Person crucified (it is all in order) under Pontius Pilate. By becoming fact it does not cease to be myth: that is the miracle. … God is more than god, not less: Christ is more than Balder, not less. We must not be ashamed of the mythical radiance resting on our theology. We must not be nervous about “parallels” and “pagan Christs”: they ought to be there—it would be a stumbling block if they weren’t. We must not, in false spirituality, withhold our imaginative welcome. If God chooses to be mythopoeic—and is not the sky itself a myth—shall we refuse to be mythopathic?

– CS Lewis, Myth Became Fact, a seminal essay anthologized in God in the Dock

“If we could understand fully all that is suggested in this passage and apply it to our interactions with neopaganism, we would find ourselves better able to address the needs of a growing segment of our society. As evangelicals, we are quick to say with Paul that we are not ashamed of the gospel; let that boldness include not only the doctrinal elements of the Good News, but also its elements that answer the questions posted by great myths” (Louis A. Markos, Myth Matters in Christianity Today).

Legend and History Have Fused

Great myths are one of the greatest tools Christians have to bridge the gap into the secular mind and unveil the truth. Tolkien sums it up beautifully in The Tolkien Reader:

“The Gospels contain a fairy-story, or a story of a larger kind which embraces all the essence of fairy-stories. They contain many marvels – particularly artistic, beautiful, and moving: ‘mythical’ in their perfect, self-contained significance; and at the same time powerfully symbolic and allegorical; and among the marvels is the greatest and most complete conceivable eucatastrophe. …There is no tale ever told that men would rather find was true, and none which so many sceptical men have accepted as true on its own merits. For the Art of it has the supremely convincing tone of Primary Art, that is, of Creation. To reject it leads either to madness or to wrath. …Because (of these things), this story is supreme; and it is true. Art has been verified. God is the Lord, of angels, and of men – and of elves. Legend and History have met and fused.”

The Truth About Our Fantasy Tales

Truth is so strong that fantasy cannot naysay it. It can only confirm it. It can only join the anthem of archetypes sown into our existence from the beginning of time. That is what the great myths have done, and it is what our myths do too.

 

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