Those of a “correct and sober taste” may find this topic a bit too sweet for the palette.

Tolkien Described the Bible as "The True Myth"

Children have an unquenching appetite for stories that involve other worlds – stories that offer strange twists, intricate storylines, and complex characters. In the last few years, this has even extended to Young Adult literature and, to a certain extent, Adult (although one will generally still find those books in the Young Adult section of any bookstore).

Beowulf - One of the First Written Myths

Myths generally fit a certain mold, involving the creation story of a people or animal. It involves gods or godlike beings, and is very often associated with religion. Christianity itself is the most epic of myths, and I would argue that it is the basis for all other myths. It is also the reason that myth has never truly died out – people relate to it in ways that other genres cannot accomplish. People don’t turn to fantasy in order to escape reality, but to validate their reality. The characters within the story go through similar life experiences as their readers – puberty, overbearing elders, physical obstacles – but have the added element of the supernatural that makes the story irresistible.

Tolkien's Lord of the Rings Embodies All Elements of Historical Myth

Tolkien gave perhaps the most clear understanding for myth in his famous lecture on Beowulf: “The significance of a myth is not easy to be pinned on paper by analytical reasoning. It is at its best when it is presented by a poet who feels rather than makes explicit what his theme portends; who presents it incarnate in the world of history and geography, as our poet has done.”

Myth shouldn’t be explained away, but enjoyed. It shouldn’t be made into a formula, but simply allowed to be. This alone makes it nearly impossible for some to understand. Myth, like Christianity, can only be understood by those that realize the fantasy is part of their reality.

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3 thoughts on “The Mythical Mode of Imagination

  1. I’ve heard this too! It fascinates me, because I really believe that its true – there’s just something within us that relates to the creation story on a subliminal level. I would bet that if missionaries approached people in a different manner, something more with a conversational, relational manner like Tolkien did, there would be many more conversions.

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