Fairy Tales

Fairy Tales

“Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of the monster. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of the monster. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon. Exactly what the fairy tale does is this: it accustoms him for a series of clear pictures to the idea that these limitless terrors had a limit, that these shapeless enemies have enemies in the knights of God, that there is something in the universe more mystical than darkness, and stronger than strong fear. When I was a child I have stared at the darkness until the whole black bulk of it turned into one black giant taller than heaven. If there was one star in the sky it only made him a Cyclops. But fairy tales restored my mental health, for next day I read an authentic account of how a black giant with one eye, of quite equal dimensions, had been baffled by a little boy like myself (of similar inexperience and even lower social status) by means of a sword, some bad riddles, and a brave heart.” Chesterton

 

For more awesomeness see Neil Gaiman on the subject!  In an article that agrees with the general principle of my blog http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2013/08/13/3824385.html 

Talia: Chapter 3

“I have no idea where I’m going” I mutter these words to myself and hear my mother step outside just behind me.

One day I’m home, and the next I’m here, muttering to myself.  I’m on the dirt-sort-of-pathway that leads into a field and purportedly, eventually, to the forest, but I’m not really sure if that is true. Besides which my mother is standing there, watching me. She isn’t really saying or doing anything, she’s just waiting for me to stop running around in circles (literally) and to leave. For about a week I’ve been busying myself around the house, until this morning, when I awoke (after yet another almost sleepiness night) realizing that I had left nothing left to do today.

Blast and Bother.

Guess that means its time to go.

I’m happy, maybe. Its hard for me to tell. I know that I’m nervous, because my stomach is upset and my eyes feel kind of glare-y. But I think mostly I’m excited. I stare down at my hands, looking for dirt to wash off, but nothing gleams off of my slightly golden skin. I look at my mother’s hair, as dark brown as her nearly black eyes, and see my own in my mind’s eye.

Now I know I’m just stalling. Forcing a smile, I give my mother a hug.

She immediately beams at me “it’s time, isn’t it?”

I nod.

“Good” she says briskly “I’ll go get your sword”

“My what?” The door bangs shut, she’s already inside to find it.

Talia: Chapter 2

The next morning I wake up,  groggy and with a slight headache. Time to get up Talia Jolie I say, muttering at myself to get up. I find that calling myself by my full name helps me to get up in the morning. Its almost like someone needs me, even though this is seldom the case, so it helps. I roll out of bed and start to do the chores. I start by building up the fire, mother never says anything, but she has been rubbing her hands more and more, and I think her hands are starting to get to her.

I never thought about how old mother was until this year. She had me late, a miracle baby she calls me. She could easily be my grandmother. But she has always been so busy and spritely you would have never known it. She still is very active for her age, but sometimes I see her look off into the distant fields, and I feel like she wishes to run and play but has not the energy to do so. At times like this I feel helpless.

And sure enough, my mother was there, awake looking at the fields. She started away guiltily, I don’t think she wanted me to see her, which means she’s probably been stealing more looks than I think. Sighing I weigh the options in my head, but not feeling particularly brave (or awake) at the moment….I decide to go with the safer question.

“Morning….mother, can you tell me a story?”

Instantly my mother’s face is transformed, animated and alive, she sweeps into the rocking chair that our neighbor made for her a few years ago and grabs her quilt in a queen-like fashion.

“Of course dear, which one do you want today?”

“How about my story?” I say, a twinkle in my eye.

“Ah, such a fairy tale! There I was, wishing and wishing for a child. I blew the dandelions down everyday for summer, and I threw as many crystals into the lake I could find.”

“Did it work?” I asked

My mother looks at me and laughs, “I don’t know…I know that in that summer I did more hoping and dreaming than I ever had before. I knew that I wanted something in my life, something….” Here my mother pauses, I lean in, I have never heard this part of the tale before. My mother shakes herself and continues.

“Well, I wanted you, didn’t I? So magic or not, it worked, as I was saying, a whole summer, an entire summer of dandelions and rocks, and on the very last day of summer, I knew. You whispered in my ear as I slept, and I woke up knowing you had started. And that was my miracle.”

I smiled

            “And then, of course, 10 moons later you were born, red and perfect, and I’ve been thankful ever since.” My mother ends her story in the usual way.

            I look up, there was a soft tapping at the window, somehow it had started to rain in the brief tale my mother told. I looked out the window, and then realized—by the prickles on the back of her neck that her mother was looking too…over her shoulder. Talia looked back at her mother who met her eyes, something blazing in them.

            “You feel it too, don’t you?” my mother made the query as though it was a fact. “Admit it, your being pulled.”

            As soon as she said it, I realized it was true. I had caught my mother looking out the window, because I had been doing the same thing. The restlessness that was in my very soul was the reason. I hadn’t thought of it as restlessness, I hadn’t thought of it as a call to go because…”but I don’t want to leave you”

            My mother chuckled, a rich, full sound with no sign of irony in it. “I know Tally, I know…but I feel it, I feel your need to go and I know its not me who needs the adventure, so I think I must be picking it up from you.” My mother fell silent to these words, hinting at a magic she had never previously had…

            I didn’t know what to say, so I remained silent, a rarity to for me.

            My mother smiled, a slow, sad and beautiful one.

            “Its time Talia, its time to for you to go. I think you need to find, something, I’m not sure what it is, but I know it in my soul. You need to go.”

            “But, why, how? I don’t understand…..”

            “I think you’ve been feeling it for a long time, I think that you need to figure out why you can’t sleep, I think you are attuned to something…and, and I think you didn’t recognize it because it never occurred to you that you could leave. No one ever leaves here, and you love me” Here I felt a light touch on my shoulder “but its time.”

            Thinking furiously, I started to make myself a cup of tea, knowing my mother was right, but uncertain about how to proceed. And my mother walked outside, and stood a bit in the rain, looking comfortable and satisfied as I continue to busy myself in the kitchen. 

Talia: Chapter 1

I can’t sleep. Note, this is not an unusual fact of life, but there it is. I am up awake again looking at where the moon should be. There is no moon of course, only the dark and feathery clouds that have blocked the moon for the last three years. I remember because it started on my sixteenth birthday. On that day the moon rose, and shone full for all of an hour before the clouds came out. I was outside, looking at the moon with my mother when the clouds started to gather, one by one. Looking no more than wisps, or the seeds of a dandelion. It kind of crept up on you. Then it was covered.

Not a lot of people noticed the moon of course. But my mother and I had looked at each other and shivered when it happened. My mother and I aren’t really witches (we’re not much of anything). We live day to day trying to get by. I go into the village and keep watch over the childlings for a bit of money. My mother tells stories, and villagers will leave her presents.

Note I say villagers, because we aren’t really villagers. But as I said before, we aren’t really witches either. We don’t have magic and we don’t know the lore. But my mother tells their stories, and we do live at the edge of town in the former witch’s cottage. My mom was the friend of the Witch—Perwin, and my mother found herself without a husband (I still don’t really know what happened to my father), we moved out here.

I sighed to myself as I reviewed the facts of my life. It was like telling a well-known tale. At sixteen I was….well I wouldn’t say innocent…I had already known that life was not full of the good food and pretty clothing other girls had, but I was more hopeful. Hopeful that some girl might talk to me more than in passing. Hopeful, that I might find a friend in village. And wishful too, back then I wished for a house—maybe with a husband or a friend—where I wouldn’t have to live alone.

That was before the clouds. Before magic started cropping up everywhere. Before my mother started to tire out before the day ended.

Before I had trouble sleeping.

Hopes and wishes, they weren’t bad things, but I felt them burning in my breast, smoldering and burning down almost to nothing, before something—like a smile from a girl my age or a wistful moment holding a childling, rekindled the spark in my heart.

My life was like a banked fire.

Maybe that was what was happening to the magic. Maybe its fire had been smoldering too long so sparks of it were escaping. No one is quite certain whether magic had been disappearing, or if people had just been making less and less use of it. The Court Scholars are still arguing about it (as if their arguments change the fact that magic is back, personally I think they are arguing about the wrong thing, maybe instead of worrying about why there is so much magic all of a sudden, maybe we should worry about what we should be doing with it all).

In our village, Elda’s nose turned purple. It really wasn’t all that noticeable. Elda has beautiful ebony skin, and is the town Matron. No one, but no one crosses her. So it was rather a problem when people started to see it. No one wanted to mention it to her face, but since there is no witch in town, no one had a mirror, and the pond is too cold for most of us to admire ourselves in the pond. Besides Elda doesn’t seem to care much about clothing or looks (that’s how she got to be matron)…she tends to rap the knuckles of the more vain girls and always compliments a girl on their skills rather than their looks (Elda did compliment me once on my sharp eye for childlings when I was watching the nearest neighbor’s youngest whilst the mother was having a new baby…I tend to think this is why I got so many offers for further care). So, it wasn’t until Tam, a boy of about 5, told her frankly that he liked her nose that she realized something was up. She marched over to the pond right away, and the entire village held their breath waiting until we heard loud shrieks—it wasn’t till we reached the lake we realized that the shrieks had been laughter. I always sort of liked Elda, at that moment I wanted to be her.

Since then small magics have been cropping up. Lots of colors have changed, and some new plants grow and die in a day. Some of the childlings claimed to have seen pixies. I rather think that they are right, after all, none of the stories speak of pixies visiting adults, and the childlings don’t usually lie (they instead play dreaming games, where they always declare “I dream I’m a …..” before they start the game). But I guess too much imagination is not to be trusted, because the childlings aren’t really being taken seriously about this.

So sometimes a fish says a real word, and sometimes the roses turn into teeny tiny bushes with fairy sized buds. Sometimes your hair turns blue and sometimes (more often than not) it will eventually revert to its old color. I like to think  of it as the magic leak. After all, I’ve seen magic before this,: Sunlight making the dust sparkle, newborn babies taking their first cry, the full moon at night so close you can feel its power. In my personal opinion, magic has always been there, but regular magic feels like tame magic, and tame magic allows for explanation. So the scholars study a newborn baby, proclaim that it makes a mother and a father to make it and state the fact like they have it all figured out. But no one really knows when a baby first cries. Is it while its still a secret, hiding in its mother’s belly? I saw a stillborn babe once, she was wet and wrinkly, no more than 5 or 6 months in the womb, yet she looked to me like she was real. This deep magic is the sort of which, I think we take for granted.

But as I said before, I’m not a witch, so no one has asked me what I think. And the magic keeps spilling out in small leaks. Making itself known.

I miss the moon I think, finally drowsy as the sunlight starts to shyly peak its head out from the morning….and with that thought, I fall back asleep.

Ozma of Oz, Eon/Eona, Song of the Lionness and coming out of the closet

Spoiler alert: if you haven’t read “The Wonderful Land of Oz,” I’m about to ruin it for you….

I think “The Wonderful Land of Oz” is the first cross gendered story I ever read..True I had read other tales of girls dressing as boys to escape whatever…but Ozma is the only “truly” transgendered character I can think of….She simply changes from a boy to a girl–turns out she’s been a girl all along. Kind of like the book “Boy Meets Boy” its almost too blase about the acceptance…but hey,  I like to think this is how it will be in a perfect world!

PS its the total feminine empowerment story, every power-player is female!

The 14 'canonical' Oz books, by L. Frank Baum

“Eon/Eona” does the girl disguise thing plus a legit transgendered character who is lovely, as does “Song of the Lioness”, Robin McKinley’s Spindle’s End hints at other kinds of love, even though sexuality isn’t really the point. of course Malinda Lo does a great (no-cross-dressing needed) out and out lesbian fairy tale. (PS want a great history of sexuality? Check out “Coming Out Under Fire” an amazing history of gay and lesbian sexuality)

All this makes me think about all those transgendered people are under enchantment, they don’t look like who they are supposed to be….

on the other hand, most fantasy is about that (I’m part fairy, I’m dating a vampire, I have superpowers, I’m really a girl in disguise, I’m a prince/princess turned into a frog)

Being a fantasy nerd, I often feel frustrated with who I present to the world and who I really am

Its difficult on so many levels..

I’m a pastor, fantasy-loving, mother. I am not right-wing, or conservative, but I’m not an atheist either. I had children young and am a professional career woman. I am creative, cheerful, optimistic and yet strong, a leader and am super-responsible.

I’m hard to stereotype.

So I read fantasy, I read it because I know that I am not limited to what other think Christianity is (THANK GOD), but at the same time I think that my Christianity defines my entire being. I read fantasy, put my family first and dress the way  I want to because I am Christian. Being Christian isn’t a guideline for me, it is the very fiber of my being and I continue to find more and more ways to live fully into it…..

If I’m in disguise, and I think all of this is a part of being Christian, what parts of Christianity are being unexplored when we are exclusive. What do gay men and lesbian women experience in Christianity that I miss out on? How about single parents, immigrants and the transgendered?

Fantasy is not about escapism, for me its about the facts of life

1. the world is full of a multitude of unique and interesting beings

2. we have to learn to get along

3. there is a battle between hatred/greed/powerseekers and love–good and evil do both exist…..

4. Even when humanity is failing, hope exists, heroes emerge, and love wins

5. Everyone has a call: a unique part to play in this ongoing quest for hope and love, and it doesn’t matter who we are, because the call is perfect for each and every one of us (only fantasy literature seems to do a good job of defining call!)

Living into this is hard, but this is my reality, and for me fantasy is another way to understand real life and the Bible….

Gotta love the irony of that…I’m sure God gave me an appreciation of wry humor so I can straddle all of that..

So some day fully believe I’ll come out of the closet…….and find Narnia

HA!

Review 10th Kingdom (the mini-series)

I love 10th Kingdom

Before Vampires and Werewolves, Before Once Upon a Time and Grimm there was 10th Kingdom the mini-series

Summary: Virginia gets tricked into a fairy tale from NYC, and begins to meet fairy tale characters and tests which ultimately result in self-discovery, trust and a happily ever after.

Why I like it: This is a miniseries, so if if gets a little repetitive (sometimes the villainous trolls get a little long), but the fairy tale references are magnificent, the self-discovery lead the viewer to a better understanding of the trials and tribulations that exist in fairy tales.

Both the wolf and the Prince have adorable moments, Virginia learns to get over herself some and appreciate her father more, and her father develops into a hobbit-like hero figure. Plus Snow White Rocks (literally). There are some achingly embarrassing moments, but I feel like they are few and probably necessary to the story.

If you can’t borrow/stream/rent this series, I’d consider picking it up, it is all of about $10 for hrs of entertainment.

-And do me a favor, when you are done go out and read the first 11 graphic novels of Fables the comic book series (you probably want to interlibrary loan them at first, but of course I own them all 🙂

Star Trek and Dr. Who

Having written about Parables and Fairy Tales and the importance they play in defining the universality of the human condition for every particular human–and hence why they are awesome. I feel you are ready for the truth.

Star Trek and Dr. Who are Parables

Not only are they like most science fiction which discusses how the human race will interact with and respond to technological changes in the future (which is a little different than fantasy which explores humanity-exactly-as-it-is-except-there-happens-to-be-magic)…but these are characters whose stories are literally written and re-written from different perspective…

I mean at the end of Season 6 (yes I’m on netflix so I’m behind a season) when time has stopped, a villain offhandedly remarks that Rory is “the one who won’t die” which is so true, (WARNING: SPOILERS, Skip to next paragraph if you care) because Amy and Rory go through 5 different versions of reality to that date, and the timestream so that he is alive again.

Anyway, Dr. Who has similar scenarios played out over and over again with different versions of the main characters–the Doctor and his companion, (or more recently companions). Even building its own mythology (Daleks, MetalMen, Weeping Angels–to encounter again, and again). The goal is the same, humanity is the same, in lots of cases the situations are the same (there is a storyline I call the Space Movie storyline, where everyone dies from something they shouldn’t have touched in the middle of space–this one gets used a lot for the obvious reason that Dr. Who is a first and foremost a Space Adventure).

But we keep watching it, because these are the stories worth repeating again and again!

Similarly, Star Trek has a crew of People stuck wherever they are (usually not at a Space Station) trying to reach home. They have encounters with similar types of beings (Kling-Ons, Vulcans, Robots, and random encounters with unknown species including the ever-lovable Tribbles.) As the characters encounter “the other” they learn to define humanity or even better “lifeforms” in a broader perspective….Even though its filled with tropes like the redshirts 🙂

Each story is a piece of the human experience, and each series can retell a similar plotline with its own set of characters to give us slightly different perspectives. What is maybe the best part is that both series unashamedly state that they are looking into the human condition–there is always a character in Star Trek who is exploring what it means to be human (Data, Seven of Nine, Odo) and Dr. Who is constantly observing and remarking (happy crying, how wonderfully human of you) about it. Thus through the eyes of the other, and the reactions of different characters to different situations allows us to learn more about ourselves!

Thus the tellings,

and the retellings

and the Fun!

That’s why we like Dr. Who, and Star Trek, and Parables, and Fairy Tales

Tower of Babel: A Parenting Parable

One Sunday Morning I was preaching on the Tower of Babel.

That morning Franklin, my 4 year old, really wanted the flashlight. We had the flashlight on the top of a bureau so the children wouldn’t turn it on and leave it on without our knowledge.

I told Franklin to wait for me to brush my hair–and then I would be able to get him the flashlight.

I come out of the bathroom and find Franklin halfway up the stairs with a stool/chair that is bigger than he is…

I took away the stool and started to laugh….”You thought it was easier to carry a stool all the way up the stairs and to climb on it and get the flashlight…that would be easier for me than waiting”

Isn’t this the story of Babel? Its easier to build a tower to God than to wait for God’s action. Isn’t this why we try to do everything for ourselves? We talk among ourselves, agree among ourselves and work for ourselves forgetting the all knowing, all caring perspective of God…that’s why God separates us out–not because we work together, but because if we do no more than preach to the choir.

If we do not have variety, we do not have the richness of God. So God separated us, God gave us more perspectives so we could see the fullness of the human condition–so we could hear the same story over and over again in different languages

Ex: Cinderella: French: Cendrillon, ou La petite Pantoufle de Verre, Italian: Cenerentola, German: Aschenputtel, Vietnamese version Tấm Cám, Korean version, too, named “Kongjwi and Patjwi

These versions give us meaning so that the nuances change, the characters differ, and the vastness and depth of God and his love, the meaning of the human condition can be peeked at 🙂

So–Can we do it, can we wait for God? Can we take in all the nuances of humanity and still accept each other as God’s children, or do we need to climb the stairs with a stool, do we need to depend on ourselves to reach God, or can we depend on God to reach us…

Genesis 11

New International Version (NIV)

The Tower of Babel

11 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward,[a] they found a plain in Shinar[b] and settled there.

They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel[c]—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

File:Pieter Bruegel the Elder - The Tower of Babel (Vienna) - Google Art Project - edited.jpg

Lady Jabberwocky

Write with Heart

A Pastor's Heart

Thoughts on Life and Faith

10:00 am Worship @NCPC

Won't You Be Our Neighbor

Martha Spong

Clergy Coach

r e F o c u s

a ministry for transition

Church Set Free

Love is the answer - now what's your question?

Living Contemplatively

Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation

PNEUMYTHOLOGY

ROBERT LAMBERT JONES III

A Spirit Filled Life

Seeing the Sacred in the Everyday

Improvisations

thinking outloud online

G-Free Rev

Knittin' and Preachin'

Infinite Windows

Meditations on faith and art

Mom Meets Blog

Managing motherhood, midlife and a blog

This Everyday Holy

Ordinary Living in the Lectionary