COMMENT

Why the ultimate story is a reality

Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker.

Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker.

On Tuesday we marked what for many people has become known as Star Wars day. (May the 4th be with you!)

Forty-four years since the original movie war released, Star Wars remains so popular that in 2012, Disney paid roughly $US4 billion to own it.

Disney continue to produce new movies in the series, and I am sure are making a pretty penny from tickets and merchandise.

However at its heart, Star Wars is a story that has been told countless times.

An evil force so big and powerful that it appears insurmountable is taken down by the small band of good guys.

Star Wars tells the story in a particularly gripping manner, but the the theme of good overcoming evil is at the heart of many of our favourite stories.

Nor is good vs evil the only story which we like to tell over and over again.

We may think of the typical Disney Princess films of recent years in which the young woman breaks free of the things which hold her back and learns to flourish as her own person.

Then there are stories like Romeo and Juliet, in which two lovers fight to over come the obstacles which keep them apart.

Or stories of redemption in which the villain, such as Scrooge in 'A Christmas Carol' or Jean Valjean in Les Miserables, confronts and overcomes the mistakes of their past to emerge a hero.

What is it about these stories, and others like them, that they can be retold so often yet remain so compelling to us?

I believe the heart of the answer is that a good story has the power to transport us into the kind of world we long for.

I can press play on a movie and for two hours I leave behind all the rubbish of life and I can become swept up into a place where the rubbish is thrown out.

I can cheer as the good guy inevitably wins, or as the mean and vindictive oppressor is over thrown, or where the mistakes of the hero need not define them any longer.

The problem is that when the credits roll I am transported right back to the place where I started.

The place where evil often wins out, where the downtrodden never free themselves, and where my past mistakes seem to continue to define me in the eyes of others.

Our stories expose a deep human longing for a transformed world which the story alone cannot ultimately deliver.

Our stories expose a deep human longing for a transformed world which the story alone cannot ultimately deliver.

Yet could it be that we tell these stories because we were built for a better reality than this?

One which is real and for which a deep longing is embedded within our very soul?

J. R. R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings, certainly thought so. In the message of Jesus, Tolkien saw the ultimate story.

He dwelt on this thought in an essay he wrote on "Fairy Stories." As one writer has summarised Tolkien's thoughts;

"If Jesus Christ was really raised from the dead - if he is really the Son of God and you believe in him - all those things that you long for most desperately are real and will come true.

"We will escape time and death. We will know love without parting, we will even communicate with nonhuman beings, and we will see evil defeated forever. In fairy stories, especially the best and most well-told ones, we get a temporary reprieve from a life in which our deepest desires are all violently rebuffed.

"However, if the gospel is true - and it is - all those longings will be fulfilled."

In other words, Jesus has done what Luke Skywalker never could.

By dying and rising again he has made the ultimate story into a reality and invites us to not simply 'lose ourselves' in it for a few hours, but to share in it now and for all time.