Friday, October 26, 2007


1 Corinthians 10:31, "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."

“But a Christian is not supposed to need an escape – alcohol, drugs, constant noise and entertainment or whatever… In fact, we should want to face reality: the glory of the world God has created and the wonder of being human – yes, and even the awful reality of the Fall and the tragedy of marred men and women, even our own flawed character. We are not to be people of escape.” – Francis Schaeffer

Notice how all those escapes are lumped together. I don’t struggle with drugs or alcohol replacing my dependence on God or my focused pursuit of life in reality. But I do know the tug of “just put in a movie and forget about it,” or “Wake me when it’s all over.” Those reactions are wrong.

The mediums are not all wrong. Sleep is good. Alcohol when not abused is permissible. Movies and books can be stimulating.

Tolkien was accused of writing escapist fantasy. His cultic followers just wanted to immerse themselves in another world and forget about the problems of theirs. When I was younger, already an avid Tolkien fan as evidenced by my defensiveness, I argued to myself that life was bad, and to live at all we need to be able to escape sometimes. The argument isn’t all bad. Our chosen medium may be. Jesus exemplified a balance between escape and pursuit. He got away, but not to a theater. Not to a wineskin. Not to gluttony. When He escaped He ran to His Father. He went away and prayed. I’m always foolishly surprised when I pray at how refreshing and satisfying it is.

I still read. I even read Lord of the Rings and other fantasies. What I discovered is that even as I made my point defending escapism, my hyper-active brain was not just escaping when I read. It was drawing comparisons. In my books I find encouragement. If Frodo and Sam endured Mordor, I can endure the flu. The sisterly affection in I Will Follow makes me yearn for close relationships with my family. I think of the fire curtain in Arena every time I ponder sin and repentance and the dilemma expressed in Romans 7. Molly teaches me to love selflessly and unconditionally. Fiona to wait for m’dearie as long as it takes. God’s and Generals says to trust God fearlessly. Sense and Sensibility, Emma, Finding Neverland, and Miss Potter push me towards beauty (by the sole point that withersoever thou pausest those movies, thou hast discovered a transporting, frame-worthy depiction of the sublime).

The solution to this paradox is the verse quoted at the beginning:

1 Corinthians 10:31, "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."

To God be all glory.

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