Thursday, May 29, 2008

Fairy Tales

"Fairy Tales are more than true;
not because they tell us that dragons exist,

but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
G.K. Chesterton

I am saddened when I hear some Christian parents say they do not allow their children to read any fantasy or fairy tale literature. I am not eloquent enough to put into words why I think these children are missing out, and why I think they will be at a disadvantage not only in life, but in their spirit. Without imagination, we cannot fathom the mysteries of Christ. Without imagination, we cannot conceive of the Spirit world, of the forces of good and evil.

I've collected a few resources if this piques your interest and you'd like to read what others have to say. I have given you a quote from each resource, so if you'd like to read the article in its entirety, click on the link.

Credenda Agenda:
"A well-exercised imagination is crucial to making moral and rational judgments. Both ethics and logic assume imagination as a starting point. Those who lack a dynamic imagination will never be able to grow into mature wisdom. They will always be stuck in very narrow, self-centered mental grooves, following infantile rules.

“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.”

“Fairy tales, then, are not responsible for producing in children fear, or any of the shapes of fear; fairy tales do not give the child the idea of the evil or the ugly; that is in the child already, because it is in the world already. Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. 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.”

Parents Review (1916 article edited by Charlotte Mason):
Yet, if [imagination is] left unhindered, this tendency grows into the habit of exaggeration and inaccuracy. We solve the problem by taking the child into a wonderful world of unfettered fancy, where he meets gnomes and goblins, mermaids and fairies, brave princes and terrible dragons, beautiful princesses and horrible witches--a world in which good is never unrewarded and wrong is never unpunished. In it he learns that the dewdrop in the leaves of the rose is a fairy's tear, and the gaunt tree waving its branches so wildly a wicked witch being punished for her sins, that every thicket may hold a beautiful princess to whose rescue a fearless prince is riding. All the wonderful people in fairy- land are there and his imagination is busy and happy living their lives, sharing their adventures.

P.N.E.U. Conference:
The hunger of the child for stories is the hunger of the race for knowledge. All great teachers have been great story-tellers, and our Lord was the greatest of all. A mere statement of divine truth would never have impressed the simple uninformed minds of His hearers as the parables did. Truth is absorbed and becomes a part of the child's self when enshrined in the form of a story.

Awakening the Moral Imagination:
"Stories capture the meaning of morality through vivid depictions of the struggle between good and evil, where characters must make difficult choices between right and wrong or heroes and villians contest the very fate of imaginary worlds." Fantasy stories can help us to retain our sense of the mysteriousness of life. College professors have discovered that ethics and moral character can't be learned from lessons that define what they are, and give practical examples. "Instead, a compelling vision of the goodness of goodness itself needs to be presented in a way that is attractive and stirs the imagination."

Whole Life Stewardship:
And so these tales teach us the lessons of character we need to pick up and keep on going. They teach us persistence and faithfulness, the ability to keep trying against all odds and in spite of repeated failure; they teach us kindness and compassion, the ability to forgive others’ failings and weaknesses; and, above all, they teach us love, the willingness to sacrifice our own happiness for someone else’s. In fairy tales, the burden of these lessons for living is lightened by the wings of story.


Anonymous said...

Have you read Princess Bubble? This modern day fairy tale has the message I want to send to my daughter.

Kim said...

No, I have not heard of Princess Bubble. Not having daughters, I probably wouldn't find myself reading it, but thanks for commenting for others to see.