Why is it that we enjoy hearing stories like The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia so much? There is something very drawing about the mystical and the supernatural. There is a place in everyone’s mind (whether small or large) that loves to hear stories about fantasies that lie outside our stagnant realm of reality. I happen to have a very strong love for fantasy novels. In school, I spend so much time reading non-fiction and biographies that I really enjoy reading a bit of fantasy in my spare time.
One of my favorite works, for the past few years, has been the Inheritance series by Christopher Paolini. You might recognize the story more by the film Eragon that was released in 2006. Eragon is book 1 in the Inheritance series, and although it made a terrible movie, the book is actually quite impressive. It takes quite a talent to create a different reality that can successfully thrive in the imagination of the reader. So, I began reading the series of books and began to notice this overwhelming theme that began seeping its way into my sub-conscience: victory against all odds. I started to think that there could be no victory. Every plot-point screamed that there was only misery and defeat to come. This past year, Paolini released Inheritance which finished the series and brought the epic battle against evil to a thundering conclusion. As I read the book, I was once again overwhelmed with a sense of despair. There seemed to be no possible way that evil could be overthrown. A part of me didn’t even want to continue because it didn’t even seem like there could be any happy ending to this epic struggle. Yet, as I have seen so many times before, good prevailed. Even as evil shows it greatest strength and is crushing all rays of hope, righteousness proves that it is stronger than evil could ever be. We see it again and again, yet we still love to see it happen. It always surprises us and leaves us with a great yearning and satisfaction.
I became slightly puzzled at the principle. I have seen this happen before. I have seen movies and read books and heard folk tales that had this common theme: victory against all odds. I knew the story all too well. So, why does it affect us so much? Why do we long for the happy ending? Why is it that we hope good will triumph? Andrew Peterson, one of my favorite singers and songwriters, put it this way: “It’s a window in the world, a little glimpse of all the goodness getting through.” This is not a story created by any human author. This is a fascination that has been instilled in us by Christ Jesus. Just picture it, if you can. Man has rebelled against God and created a nation for the sole purpose of opposing Him and pleasing himself. For thousands of years, darkness reigns and plagues the land with a deadly pestilence. Jesus entered the scene as the hero of our saga. He came to redeem all man, and to slay sin and its deadly curse. Then all is darkest when He is put to death. All is lost. The savior is no more and death shall reign over all the earth. Never has it been darker. Then Jesus rises from the tomb, defeating death and sin and proclaiming that their dominion on the earth is no more! Even in the midst of absolute despair, victory has been achieved. This much is true! This is not fantasy! This is why we love to hear this story so much. Victory has been accomplished against all odds! Never before has there been such great news. So wonderful is it, that even a fantasy novel that vaguely symbolizes it can cause me to cheer and rejoice. It reminds me of a wonderful truth.
Now, just as a simple disclaimer, I am not stating that Paolini’s Inheritance series is a spiritual allegory. I happen to have no idea as to his personal religious beliefs or the symbolic motives behind his works. There are some who would even scoff at the suggestion that a secular book written by an unsaved author could possibly show forth any sound biblical doctrine. Be careful to make that ignorant assumption. To say that would be to admit that the domain of God and his word are limited by the unsaved. This cannot be true. The truth of God’s glorious gospel is proclaimed by all life. Even the demons cannot deny the might of God. Surely, He can proclaim his truth through one of His creation.
Perhaps one of the most touching moments in literature that this principle is pointed out to us, is in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers in, what is now, Sam’s famous speech that takes place in Osgiliath. The speech is somewhat different in the book, however, I am going to commit a great evil and quote the movie over the book. The theme takes several chapters to get across in the book, but is summed up quite nicely in what is probably the most moving scene in the entire trilogy of movies.
Sam: “I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy. How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened.
But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t. Because they were holding on to something.”
Frodo: “What are we holding on to, Sam?”
Sam: “That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.”
So, let this be an encouragement. Victory is not a fantastic thing to e achieved. We have victory in Jesus Christ. Be intentional to remember that in life. Look for the “Windows in the World’. It is meant to be a reminder and encouragement to us. The darkness is no more. Our enemies have lost their power. Victory has been achieved.