This is part 2 of a series on growing into the narrative of faith. Click here for part 1.
I was raised on a fantasy.
No, I’m not talking about the battered copies of The Chronicles of Narnia I discovered as an 8-year-old in my grandparents’ home, nor The Lord of the Rings, which exploded into my life in junior high. The fantasy upon which I was raised was much nearer to home and therefore all the more magical.
I’m of course talking about the world and stories of the Bible.
The wondrous tales I encountered from my earliest days were ostensibly set in this very same earth upon which I walked, under the same expansive sky—only in this one, that same earth would occasionally open up and swallow evildoers, and sometimes that blue sky would rain fire.
In these stories, dead people routinely came back to life, armies were routed by angels, and stormy seas were able to be walked upon and calmed by a mere command.
Holy women drove tent pegs through evil generals’ heads and holy men were swept away into heaven by flaming chariots. Giants were defeated by shepherds and fishermen defied emperors.
Is it any wonder I was enchanted?
. . . But is is also any wonder that I struggled with these tales as I aged?
With hindsight, it’s clear my fidelity to the faith was and today remains only as strong as the stories’ hold on me.
What I mean is that the fantasy world created by the Bible—the “Secondary World” as Tolkien would describe it—began to crumble as it became a doctrinal tool by the teachers in my life. The stories stopped being told for their own sake and morphed into “just so” tales intended to communicate Divinely-dictated spiritual and moral truths.
But the real destruction of the stories holding together my young heart was still to come.