My husband and I recently took our thirteen-year-old son to see the film version of The Hobbit. His review: “It was a little slow. The book was much more fun.”
No less than in Rome or Greece, heroes abound today. The explosion of yesterday’s-comic-book-turned-today’s-blockbuster-film indicates with no uncertainty that our heroes are as meaningful to us in the twentieth century as they were to the ancient world. Even a brief comparison of ancient and modern heroes reveals the deepest aspirations and fears of current culture. The ancient heroes were born of the envy and lust of the gods. They were god-bred men who possessed in a finite form both the gods’ power and their weaknesses.
Recently my 9-year-old son asked to help make pancakes. I took a moment to weigh the benefits of making breakfast a joint project against my usual goal of getting in and out of the kitchen onSaturday morning with minimal time and mess. I needed to calculate proportions to increase the recipe by 50% in order to accommodate the kids'growing appetites. That, of course, would be "educational" but would require me to be more involved in the process as well as the clean up. I paused to think about the proportional increases needed for the recipe.
Where did the concept of fantasy originate? For that matter where did the concept of fiction come from? Ancient man had sacred texts, but they certainly did not consider them “fantasy.”
According to Gene Veith, it was the Bible that made fantasy possible in the first place. While the Greeks emphasized imitation, the Bible emphasized creation. The universe is not an imitation but a creation out of nothing. This concept helped to provide the conceptual basis for creating stories, fiction.
Another common objection of our day is that fairy stories and fairy tales in particular are scary and violent and are therefore unfit for children.
There is no natural connection between the minds of children and fairy tales, states Tolkien.
This essay was presented as an essay at the 2011 CiRCE Conference.
IV. Mastery, Meaning and Mystery
III. Basil and the Hexaemeron
Now let us turn to S. Basil and his Hexaemeron.