Some people might be surprised that a Greek myth told among Norse myth was written by a Christian.
Of course the easy out is to say, “C. S. Lewis did it first!” but it remains a legitimate question: How can we enjoy non-Christian story if we are Christians?
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The key is understanding that all truth is truth and is God’s truth, no matter where that truth is found.
For example, I know 300 is fewer than 100,000, and that’s true whether I learn it from Judges 7–8 or a mathematics textbook.
Or: If I don’t get a literary award I want and so I malign the award, it’s accurate to say that I am experiencing “sour grapes,” and an Æsop reference is simpler than a biblical one.
A story need not be found in the Bible to say something truthful about human behavior or the world we occupy.
Consider this parable:
“A traveler crossed a river on a heavy wooden raft. When he reached the other side, he was faced with the dilemma of leaving the raft, which had been invaluable to him, or carrying it on his back as he continued his journey because it had meant so much to his success. He concluded it was wiser to recognize when its use had ended, and he left it at the riverside.”
Isn’t that a great illustration about not valuing material goods or emotional crutches beyond their purpose? Learning that it’s a story from Buddhist tradition does not sap its meaning that we should not continue to cling to or rely on what cannot help us now, a message which also fits well with Christian theology.
This is a long, long way from saying that if a Norse myth can say something true about human nature, it demonstrates the truth of Norse theology, and that conclusion would be a logical fallacy at best. Discernment should be a part of every reading experience, pagan or Christian or atheist or anything.
Likewise, the argument that referencing pagan myths brings fresh power to the pagan gods is flawed. The fictional trope that deities gain power via human attention is merely that—a fictional trope. It’s important to remember that truth is not affected by whether or not we believe it. Reality does not depend on our opinion of it or attention to it! (One might even argue that by making them fictional characters we emphasize their fictitious nature, a sort of literary children’s breakfast with Jesus and Santa.)
Nor do I think one can reasonably argue that a book like The Songweaver’s Vow is likely to lead readers to modern Ásatrúism or neo-paganism, certainly no more than Till We Have Faces’s far more sympathetic view of the gods is likely to lead someone to worship of Ungit and Istra.
(I did re-read Till We Have Faces before starting The Songweaver’s Vow, and yes, it was nerve-wracking to follow that path! But the fantastic thing about fiction is that there’s always another way to take the story.)
A reader said that The Songweaver’s Vow “feels like a Christian book,” which surprised me. I certainly didn’t write it as an allegory (and it would be a flawed allegory). But I think there are strong themes which should resonate with a Christian worldview, like trusting to follow the instructions of someone you cannot see, redemptive love, and a bride coming to her husband.
Not all stories are Christian stories, in the sense of including a clear message of salvation and characters talking about the God of the Bible. Not all themes and conclusions in stories are true. But the truth found in stories is truth, and a Christian can find and interpret that truth through a Christian worldview.
“Laura VanArendonk Baugh masterfully draws on legends and myths both familiar and obscure to create a world that is all too similar to our own.”
— Lorehaven Magazine
Explore Laura VanArendonk Baugh’s award-winning novel The Songweaver’s Vow in the Lorehaven Library.
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