Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The Fortifying Value of Stories

I have been quite behind in posting for a number of reasons including the fact that we have been reading the Lord of the Rings books which are taking considerably longer than many others we have read! Just last night we read the following portion from The Two Towers. I am struck by how often in great stories the authors portray their characters drawing strength and wisdom from the stories they have heard since childhood (the same thing occurs in Lewis’ Narnia stories).

Stories are important for life- not just for children but adults as well. It is important to hear and learn good stories in childhood precisely so that you can draw upon them when you are grown. It is important to realize you are a part of a story and to see parallels between your story and the great stories of old. We all crave a narrative to be a part of, a plot to participate in, knowing that it is going somewhere and means something. The Biblical story gives us that, and all the great stories of human creation are great precisely because they mirror that Biblical narrative in some way.

Bolster your soul and the souls of your children by giving them good stories.

“The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that's not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually — their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn't. And if they had, we shouldn't know, because they'd have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on — and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same — like old Mr. Bilbo. But those aren't always the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of a tale we've fallen into?'

‘I wonder,' said Frodo. 'But I don't know. And that's the way of a real tale. Take any one that you're fond of. You may know, or guess, what kind of a tale it is, happy-ending or sad-ending, but the people in it don't know. And you don't want them to.’

'No, sir, of course not. …Why, to think of it, we're in the same tale still! It's going on. Don't the great tales never end?'

'No, they never end as tales,' said Frodo. 'But the people in them come, and go when their part's ended. Our part will end later — or sooner.' ...

[Sam speaking] Still, I wonder if we shall ever be put into songs or tales. We’re in one, of course; but I mean: put into words, you know, told by the fireside, or read out of a great big book with red and black letters, years and years afterwards. And people will say: "Let's hear about Frodo and the Ring!" And they'll say: "Yes, that's one of my favourite stories. Frodo was very brave, wasn't he, dad?" "Yes, my boy, the famousest of the hobbits, and that's saying a lot."

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At 1:48 PM, Anonymous Craig Johnson said...

Ray - can you let me know where this occurs in the Two Towers? At least the chapter? I would like to be able to use it in a sermon illustration. Thanks!

At 5:56 PM, Blogger Ray Van Neste said...

Sure. This occurs in chapter 8 of book four, titled, "The Stairs of Cirith Ungol."


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