Look at #HarryPotter, (with help from Diana Butler Bass) and Christ & Culture

I have an ongoing theory about where religion is going….

It happily matches Diana Butler Bass’s, though is from a differing perspective

In undergrad I got a BA in Hist and Engl and (almost) a minor in Philosophy…but really, I was studying fairy tales & fantasy. I did my thesis on that.

Then in seminary, I would sneak off and read fantasy and try to study Lewis and L’engle on the side, of course taking Osmer’s Fantasy class (I got to help with the reading list that year) YAY!

So….I’ve noticed how fantasy is not only the sort of fiction our souls need, as the inklings theorized, but also that its mirroring of spirituality is amazing.

Here is the thesis in a nutshell: Fairy Tales did not exist before Christ, before that there was no forgiving God, no happily ever after. (Cupid and Psyche is simultaneously the last myth, the first fairy tale)

There the idea of Human Progress and Mythic Recess. Science was on the move, Oz has to be hidden, Narnia can’t be find, the Elves are leaving in Tolkien.

Science is taking over there is no room for magic/religion

We are now, in 2015, witnessing the Harry Potter generation coming into adulthood. If I am at the beginning of the millennial time (I was born in 83), then my sister (born in 93) and graduating from undergrad this year, I think will be the end of it, and the beginning of the new generation. How can it not? The economics have changed, religion has changed, rights have changed….read Diana Butler Bass’s book Christianity after Religion for more.

This Harry Potter generation read about Muggles and Wizardfolk. Side by side, intertwined. The magic is hard to find, but once you discover it, it parallels and is (and as it turns out has been) integrated into “regular” life. Urban fantasy, by the likes Charlaine Harris &

I feel this is a signal to where religion/faith is going in the future. How does our spirituality fit into our lives?

More (w)holistically to be sure, more diverse, more interspersed with those who are not typically religious.

People like C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, Neil Gaiman, Madeline L’engle, Robin Mckinley all of whom speak to the truth of fantasy….

I know it is but a mirror, but the fact that fantasy was founded as a conversation about Christ and Culture, and looking to the big questions

Where does humanity start? How is the great battle between good and evil going? What is the individual’s call within that battle?

(Geek moment. I consider Science Fiction to be about adding technology onto humans to augment and change it. Fantasy to be about what happens when magic is thrown into the normal world. Both are about the state of humanity, what makes someone a person?)

I think that as the Harry Potter Generation, those who literally grew up with the books, signal where interest in spirituality might be going next, and that their might be a revival…..and I find that fascinating……

Still mulling about that wonderful Dystopic Fantasy…I think Diana Bass Butler’s theory about the bridge of change….is helpful ….even more helpful for me is to move beyond the flat narrative and looking more carefully at the narrative of those who have to bear the burden of those changes, people of color, the poor, the LBGQT, etc.

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

Parables are Godly Fairy Tales

Ok,

Don’t take this the wrong way. But if Fairy Tales compile to give us an understanding (picture/idea/grasp) of the human condition. Then parables give us a God’s eye view of the human condition. Noting not only life as it is, but also, at the same time, life’s potentials…[think Prodigal Son]

Compiled together, the parables–The Mustard Seed, The Widow’s Mite, The Lost Sheep, The Seven Bridesmaids.

Reading these stories over and over provide windows to the self–clarifying the relationships in our lives. It plants the seeds of knowledge, it gives us the broad scope of life, while allowing us to fill in the details of our own lives.

This is why I read fairy tales theologically, parables practically and reread as much as possible….

“I believe that…

“I believe that the divisions between these aspects of Christ’s person and life are artificial. All three Christological aspects (incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection) are a part of the answer to human brokenness. As incarnate, Christ demonstrated that human bodies and experiences are not inimical to intimate relationship with God. As crucified, Christ showed that God understands and participates in human pain, suffering and even in mortality. As resurrected, Christ manifested God’s power over that pain, suffering and death. To share in the Lord’s Supper is to share with Christ Jesus in all these aspects of his person and life.” –Dr. Barb Hedges-Goettl PCUSA Pastor

Communion, the real deal

I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never be hungry; he who believes in me will never thirst” and “I am the vine, you are the branches. Cut off from me you can do nothing,” both of which emphasize the relationship between believers and Christ without specifically including Christ’s body.[1]

 

his body as a living sacrifice and his use of common things, including bread and wine, to bless and heal, reconcile, and bind people together, and also to exhibit “the grace, power, and presence of the Kingdom of God.”


 

The Thing about Fairy Tales Is: Once Upon a Time, Happily Ever Afters and Meta

Ingredients of A Fairy Tale=

1 Upon a Time

4 or 5 Stereotypes

3 or 4 Stock Characters

1 simple plot

Good versus Evil

True Love Manifested (depressingly or not)

and possibly ending with Happily Ever After

Told and Retold, Reshaped and Reworked: I LOVE reading all of the versions of fairy tales!

But the thing about fairy tales is that that they are a collection of data on the human race. The more versions you read, the more insight you build about the human race, and the more you allow the stories to interact, the more you start to understand who we are, and how we work!

That’s what is amazing about fairy tales–the more they are stock the more true they are, the more versions exist, the more the human condition is explained…That is what is SO META about fairy tales!!!

Romans 8:38-39 …

Romans 8:38-39

New International Version (NIV)

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

For those in CT 😦

Shannon A Thompson

Author. Speaker. Librarian.

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