Tonight was family movie night in the Teal household. The movie chosen? “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe”. A movie we’ve all seen a few times, but one that we genuinely enjoy…and one that I find moves my heart in ways few other stories do. I find my eyes welling up knowingly when Aslan stays the hands of his warriors, and says “Sheath your swords…this is Peter’s fight”. Something in me rises up when Aslan appears, alive, at the penultimate scene of the film, atop a hillside, roaring in victory. And when the Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve are crowned, named, and seated on the thrones, I am alive. When Lucy sees Aslan breathe the breath of life onto one compatriot, takes her small vial of fireflower juice, and begins doing her part to revive others, I nod at the underlying message with a smile.
What am I seeing? I’m seeing, as Chesterton so succinctly laid out, the reality of life…but told through fairy tales. Why do you think we love them so, anyway? Cinderella. Lord of the Rings. Avatar. The Lion King. The Matrix. On and on and on. The great stories speak to us in a much greater depth than we may first understand, although most of us, if we’re honest, at least react in some emotional capacity to what we are reading or seeing on screen. “Wow, that was such a moving scene!” we’ll exclaim. Sometimes, if we’re pressed as to why said scene moved us, we’re…at a loss for words. We don’t know at the moment.
I’m convinced that our modern age is missing out on some really incredible, deep, true experiences; we are trading them for data, doctrine, dogma…and in so doing, we are missing a key element of what made Jesus such an attractive figure to his contemporaries during his time on earth. Spend some time looking at the way Jesus interacted with folks, how he went about teaching the eternal truths of the Kingdom and God and faith and discipleship and forgiveness and love and sacrifice and joy and peace…he related through the power of a story. He told stories! I can’t recall a time, in fact, when Jesus resorted to expository preaching, or doctrinal dissertation in order to teach us the really important stuff.
No…he told us about a farmer planting seeds in his garden. He relayed the misfortunes of a man who hid his bosses’ money in the ground rather than making smart investments. He humored us with the comedic one-off about a man with a log sticking out of his eye trying to pick a splinter out of another man’s eye. And in the process, he told us things deeper than data-centric definitions could ever approach.
But we…we think we are so much smarter than that. We set out to explain the mysteries of the universe using data mining, exposition, googling and explanations that would likely set Jesus’ head to spinning! Why do we do that? Largely, it is because most of us have been raised in the Age of Reason; never seeing its dawning, never knowing what it was like without it. Data wins out over the discovery. Juxtaposition of extremes wins out against the journey of faith. Stats beat story.
Then comes along a lion, a witch, and a wardrobe, and deep calls unto deep once again…