Why is it that we enjoy what we enjoy? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Last night, in the midst of some gaming and watching some shows on YouTube, I returned to thinking about my life here in New Orleans. I have thought about how our country used to be much more Christian than it is now and yet New Orleans is now known as a hotbed of crime, drugs, and well, we all know what really goes on at Mardi Gras, which should sadly be a Christian celebration. What has happened to this great city and how can we change it?
Then I thought about how it has been said before by G.K. Chesterton that fairy tales don’t exist to tell us that dragons exist. Children already know that. Fairy tales exist to tell children that dragons can be beaten.
Let’s start this with a subject I don’t care for that much. Sports. For the most part, the idea of watching sports should be that someone goes and watches these people on the field and then decides that they want to be like that person and is willing to work out and practice the game too. Now for some, this is impossible and they can remember what they used to do or dream about what they might do in eternity someday. I think of those with severe disabilities or those who due to an older age cannot play like they used to.
Completely antithetical is the picture of someone who sits down on a couch to watch a game and goes through a whole box of Oreos at the same time. This is not to say you have to be a fitness king, but if you do care about sports, you should care about your own physical condition. Sports should get you out of yourself.
With fantasy, it is the same, whether we are talking about old Greek plays, novels like the Lord of the Rings, TV shows and movies, or video games. All of these are meant to give us heroes to emulate and people that we are to look and say “I can overcome what’s in my life as well.” With sports movies, we often have the story of the underdog, such as movies like Rocky or Rudy, where we know that the team or player we want to win will be the hero in the end because they never give up.
In the world of gaming, we have the same going on. A player playing a game can see a boss villain they have to fight that is gargantuan compared to them. In reality, most of us if we saw such a villain would not bother to really try even but start realizing that our time has come. In fantasy, it is the opposite. You are even more certain that you can win and you try again and again and again. The size of the enemy doesn’t make it impossible. It just makes the victory all the greater.
So it is also with every challenge that we face today. The Greeks told their plays I suspect in the hopes of spurring other young Greek men on to greatness. Hebrews tells us a list of heroes of the faith in an effort to say “Be like these people.” Today, we tell stories of people, real and fictional, in an effort to inspire greatness in us.
That should be the purpose of what we do today. If we are captivated by the battle of good and evil on the screen or in literature, we had sure better be fighting it in our own lives. If we believe that the villain can be overcome no matter what, we need to live accordingly as well. It could be tempting to say “That’s fiction, not reality”, but as Chesterton again said, “Truth is stranger than fiction, for we have made fiction to suit ourselves.” In fiction, the characters normally aren’t aware of a supreme deity watching over the story entirely. In reality, we should be, and that should change everything.
Enjoy the story, but also use it. If you care about sports, care about your own physical condition. If you care about the battle of good and evil, be ready to fight it yourself.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)