Thursday, 25 August 2011

Deceptive stories

Being realistic is not opposed to taking flights of fancy. Which is why fairy stories and fantasy aren't a bad thing for children (or, I dare say, for adults).
C S Lewis: ...what profess to be realistic stories for children are far more likely to deceive them. I never expected the real world to be like the fairy tales. I think that I did expect school to be like the school stories. The fantasies did not deceive me: the school stories did. All stories in which children have adventures and successes which are possible, in the sense that they do not break the laws of nature, but almost infinitely improbable, are in more danger than the fairy tales of raising false expectations.
Which says, more eloquently than I, what I was trying to express in Fairy Tales and myth. And gives some indication of why I much prefer telling kids stories of dragons and wild things, than reading stories of children going to school.

An excellent creative writer, N D Wilson, is quoted by his father (also a writer!) on these things, on Justin Taylor's blog here. Well worth the read. Wilson's Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl: Wide-Eyed Wonder in God's Spoken World is excellent to enjoy in morsels - a lot at one time could leave your head spinning!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Don't make me rich!

In a society of rich and poor, and a huge sense of entitlement, can we cope with the level of riches we have? That is, not 'Can you live within your means?' but 'Can you have what you have without greed, covetousness, discontent or pride in possessions?' 

'Society has let them down.' That doesn't excuse us our sin - pride that our lives are morally superior, our covetousness for the slightly better thing, our mistaking comfort for contentment. 

Sometimes, we can be like a film star, with all the money, fine clothes and food, friends and loving family, and satisfying work we could want, gazing at TV footage of looters. 'I thank you, God, that I am not like other men: violent, robbers, greedy, unloving. I only do decent films and do lots of charity functions.' 

As I search for a job, aware of the impossibility of living off Job Seeker's Allowance, it's easy to put hope in a future salary. I would love to be able to support others more in missionary work. But also, realistically, as the inspired heart-doctor James wrote, 'even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong - you want only what will give you pleasure.' 
'But he gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires.'
So in an excellent reflection on the recent spates of looting in English cities (Looters: them or us?), Mike Ovey reminds us of the (difficult) prayer of the Wise:
Give me neither poverty nor riches!
Give me just enough to satisfy my needs.
For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, "Who is the Lord?"
And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name. [Proverbs 30:8-9 NLT]
Can we truly pray that? 'Lord, please keep me from being more rich than I can cope with. Keep me poor enough to rely on you and love others.'
'So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honour.'