Life: Fairy Tale or Myth?

Alice Cheng (May 2020)

Life is a narrative; a narrative portrays life. A narrative elicits imagination, sentiment, and a sense of belonging. Fairy tales invite people to explore a world of beauty and fantasy; myths invite people to explore a world of mystery.

Fairy tales give children a world of trust, animation, and feelings. Fairy tales allow them to hear, to speak, and to play. The fairytale master Anderson has written many children’s stories such as Little Match Girl, Emperor’s New Clothes, and Ugly Duckling that are filled with life philosophy. Excellent fairy tales and magic movies are inseparable from themes of fantasy and passion, as well as positive moral values (such as truth and self-denial, honesty and courage, dreams and hope, evil and good, justice over evil). The world of fairytales is not only needed by children, but also by adults. The world still needs to keep its purity and hope despite its dangers ahead.

In the early days, heroes and natural forces were being worshipped. Throughout history, the issues of retribution and life after death have been explored in most religions. Interestingly, people even moved into the realm of myths for their quests. However, as the rise of rationalism, people have begun to switch from theocentrism to anthropocentrism. Has rationalism solved the problems of suffering and disasters? Absolutely no. Postmodernism also started to promote that there is no absolute truth which elicited the spread of relativism, individualism, and nihilism. Meanwhile, the New Age Movement has gained popularity all over the world proclaiming “charisma” and “self-actualization” which creates the myth of man becoming a god!

Without reality, the universal value would fall apart. Yet the ultimate questions of mankind have never ceased: “Where do I come from? Who am I? Where will I go?” These questions are about life and death which calls for meaning and destiny of life. However, there have always been people who have pursued the only true Lord God.

The Pilgrim‘s Progress, which once was the world’s second bestseller next to the Bible also included the children’s classic. The author, John Bunyan wrote this book during his imprisonment due to his loyalty to his belief in God. The main character of this fable, Christian has to go through many trials as he escapes from his home, the City of Destruction, to the Celestial City. He drags himself out of the Slough of Despond, passes through Vanity Fair, climbs the Hill Difficulty, and gets through the By-path Meadow. He trudges out of the Valley of the Shadow of Death and breaks out of the grounds of the Doubting Castle! He even gets through the Dark River and finally arrives at the Celestial City, the land of eternal life!

Fairy tales reflect the eternity of the inner world, bringing comfort and courage to our hearts. Yet only God’s revelation and Jesus’s salvation can lead us to eternal life.

The Bible says: “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command …. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” (Hebrews 11:3, 16)

(Author’s credentials: Bachelor at Overseas Theological Seminary, Master of Pastoral Counseling at Chinese Mission Seminary, Former minister at Hong Kong Christ Evangelical Church and Hiulai Church)

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