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'Catechisms with flesh on'

"'Catechisms with flesh on'" Continued...

Issue: "2012 Cities Issue," March 10, 2012

Magic. Imagine describing to Frodo how we fly around, in a steel tube the size of school buses, and then we have this vapor our alchemists make, and you light a match to it. We sit in this steel tube, somebody stands up front and says, "Buckle up," we strap in, and then we light that stuff and we go whipping through the sky, six miles up. We hurtle along, hop a continent, and then I get off. I tell Frodo that, then I say, "Man, I wish I lived in a fantasy land that is magical like yours."

Are our lives comedies or tragedies? A tragedy has at its end a fundamental and complete hopelessness. But if you've ever talked to people who have had a deep tragedy in their lives, some say, "It was the best thing that ever happened to us." Sometimes they're saying that because they think they're supposed to, and sometimes they really mean it: It's not a tragedy, there's an up-tick after.

Death is not the end. We all forget very quickly that human mortality rates are 100 percent. All of us die. But when we go off the stage, we don't just turn into mulch, like an atheist would say: We go off the stage and we still exist. If we think that death is the end, it's tragic-but death is an enemy to be overcome, it's an enemy that's been beaten. However I end a story, whether it's in death or darkness or a place of sadness, I never want to say, "That enemy stands unbeaten." The story of Samson is glorious: a bittersweet tragedy at the end, but a beautiful story.

Does that hopefulness even amid dire events characterize the best Christian writers? Flannery O'Connor's short fiction tells the story of the apostle Paul: Here's this self-righteous, super-smart, clean-cut rich kid who dabbles in murder: He's not throwing rocks but he is holding the coats when Stephen is murdered. Then he gets knocked off his donkey and blinded-but there's always the promise of more coming. In O'Connor this granny gets shot by the outlaw-but the best thing that ever happened to her was getting shot by that outlaw.

Listen to a portion of Marvin Olasky's interview with Nate Wilson onWORLD's radio news magazine The World and Everything in It.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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