Lewis, 33, was talking to his friend J.R.R. Tolkien and one other person, taking a walk in the woods near Oxford one evening in 1931. Here is the conversation as reconstructed by scholar Jerram Barrs from Lewis’s writings:
What meaning does Christ’s death 2000 years ago have for me, living my life today? Lewis asked Tolkien.
“Jack, you are moved by myths and fairy stories, and the gospel works in the same way as the myths you love.”
“But, Tollers, myths are lies, breathed through silver.”
“No,” Tolkien responded, “story-telling is fundamental to being in the image of God.”
Myths express our memories of paradise, he said.
But also in myths is a sense of the shame and tragedy of the brokenness of our present life.
And in myths we see hints of a time when all things will be set right, said Tolkien.
Lewis pondered these words, found truth in them, and a few days later discovered that he now believed in Christ his savior.
So, what can Christian writers take away from this story? The stories that come from our pens as contemporary Christian authors are not myths: neither traditional, nor ancient. But our stories too can incorporate the elements Tolkien mentioned.
- Hints of memories of paradise
- A sense of the shame and tragedy of the brokenness of our world
- Hope of redemption
Something to think about as you craft your next story!