Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Gospel: Tragedy, Comedy and Fairy Tale

Beuchner's book has been a rewarding read: provocative, heartfelt and considered; explaining the true nature of the gospel and the Way Things Are from the point of view of literary genres. It's always been an interest of mine to consider the connections between art and culture and The Way Things Are as revealed in the word of God. Why does comedy work? Why is tragedy so poignant? Why do fairytales and superheroes have a base resonance with us?
No matter how forgotten and neglected, there is a child in all of us who is not just willing to believe in the possibility that maybe fairy tales are true after all but who is to some degree in touch with that truth.
Beuchner's casting of truth as the Way Things Are, as the TV news with the sound turned down is powerfully evocative. On the comedy of the gospel he says people are
prepared for everything except for the fact that beyond the darkness of their blindness there is a great light.
His retellings of the tales are funny and powerful. Parables are holy jokes,

the kind of joke Jesus told when he said it is harder for a rich person to enter paradise than for a Mercedes to get through a revolving door...than for Nelson Rockefeller to get through the night deposit slot of the First National City Bank.

Along the way you meet The Bard, Dostoevski, Manley Hopkins, CS Lewis, Melville, Tolkien, the list goes on. On the gospel as fairytales he says 'You enter the extraordinary by way of the ordinary', a feature of fairy tales that surely has resonance with the Lost Eden. He speaks of seeking the jewels of 'joy and beauty and holiness beyond the walls of the world'. This book has been the perfect antidote to your average textbook! Rooting the gospel in the real world of real experience of tragedy, seeing the amazing grace of God and the absolute comedy of the gospel and the fairytale of reversal that it brings. Especially if you like your literature, read it.