What Happened to the Magic?

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Two years ago today, author Brian Jacques (pronounced “Jakes”), creator of the Redwall series, passed away.  He authored 22 books of series in all, which featured the mice, otters, moles, hedgehogs, squirrels, and hares of Mossflower Country and Salamandastron, and their epic struggles against all manner of villainy.  Inspired by the memory and actions of their resident spiritual guide, Martin the Warrior, the goodbeasts of Redwall strived to create a place of peace in a hostile world full of rats, weasels, stouts, and other vermin.  Readers come away from reading Redwall with the satisfaction of having read a darn good yarn, full of feasting, fighting, riddles, cliff hangers, and songs.

I got addicted to these tales not too long ago, after getting sick and tired of contemporary “literary fiction ,” with its typical loner protagonists and navel-gazing ruminations.  I, like Brian Jacques at point, was wondering “What happened to the magic?!”

Jacques went off and wrote his own magic, and the gift he receives is in the giving, and with all the humility in the world.  As he once stated it:

“I don’t worry so much about the prizes for books, the accolade for me is the kids.  And the librarians, who’ve had an education, who are looking at a scalawag, who’s conned his way in—an exlongshoreman, ex-seaman, ex-truckdriver, who’s suddenly popped up as an author — and they say, “Oh, Mr. Jacques, we love your books.” I think, isn’t that nice, here are these people with this great education speaking to me as if I’m somebody—it’s a big thing.”

I thank him for creating magic and sharing it with the rest of the world,  especially late  thirtysomethings like myself who need some reminding.  His death two years ago today left many heartbroken.  But take heart, I think Jacques would say: join me anytime between the pages of Redwall.

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Chesterton via Lewis

In reading The Narnian, Alan Jacob’s bio on CS Lewis, I came across a great quote by GK Chesterton worth pondering by any English teacher: “Literature is luxury. Fiction is a necessity.”

Jacob explains: “…the stories most greatly treasured, and treasured for the longest periods, are those that trace, in bold lines, the outlines of our deepest experiences. And if it is stories, among all the things we make and do, that mean the most to us as we face our own battles, journeys, and riddles, what does that suggest?”

He quotes Chesterton further: “The life of man is a story; an adventure story; and in our vision the same is true even of the story of God.”

This is akin to Tolkien’s notion of subcreation and his thought we are, ourselves, the story told by God. This idea brought me back to faith, but I have to admit, it’s been over two years and I can still barely articulate it.