“When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty, I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”
― C.S. Lewis, On Stories: And Other Essays on Literature
Modernity is an existentially impossible paradox. It stands on “facts” that are propped on ever regressing hypotheses. Thus, it has everything firmly planted on nothing. Modernity objectifies the material but relativizes the concrete. In so doing, modernity loses reality and languishes in an ethereal netherworld where nothing is possible save the unthinkable.
The modern materialist is the ultimate critic of religion who sneers, “I hear all this talk about faith and belief, but this is nothing more than fanciful fiction. It’s little more than a daydream. It’s child’s play. Why don’t you people just get real?” This not only shows how little the modern mind really understands of religion, it also shows how little it understands of children, and how little it understands reality.
The thoughtful Christian might well reply, “Of course religion is like a fairy tale. Of course it is child’s play! That’s the whole point!” Unless one becomes as a little child, one can’t begin to understand such deep mysteries.
The whole point of fairy tales, fantasy stories, and myths is to get to the heart of reality. Modernity demands that we “get real.” Well, that is precisely what we are getting. We tell the Great Myth of the one who rode out to tilt at windmills, slay the dragon, and rescue the fair maiden. We learn more truth when reading of wizards and hobbit holes than we ever would if we didn’t allow our imaginations to search out the great Hero. Lives are stories, each one complete with its own dungeons and dragons. Don’t you see?
This is exactly what modernity cannot do: it cannot see. It cannot see the invisible, yet this is precisely what it must see. The materialist wonders what on earth we are talking about. This is because what we are talking about didn’t come to us by way of earth. We are talking about something otherworldly, something heavenly. Of course there is nothing more concrete and tangible than the heavenly. Everything that we know as permanent is only a shadow of the true. This world is still waiting for it’s final reconstitution wherein all of the things that we view as permanent will finally be made such. All things made new. All things made real. This will happen because the invisible Lord from heaven took on flesh, died, and rose again in order to raise the world out of the shadows. Any child can see that…