Sunday, January 25, 2009

On Symbolism

I have been thinking a lot about the symbolism in my novel. Much of it arose naturally, but I didn't realize the significance of what I was doing until I read Finding God in Harry Potter, by John Granger. The book inspired me to deepen the symbols I was already using, and to attempt to use them more powerfully. I just wanted to put up part of the chapter on symbolism ("Evidence of Things Not Seen") here, because it was so inspiring.

"Man, as an image and likeness of God, is a living symbol -- both in the sense of transparency through which we look and of an opening through which God enters the world... The tragedy of man's fall is that, because most people no longer believe they are symbols of God, shaped in his likeness... the world is often denied access to God through his chosen vessel.

"We are still moved, however, by the symbols in nature and the symbols we experience in story form. This is the power of myth: that we can experience invisible spiritual realities and truths greater than visible, material things in story form. Tolkein described Christianity as "The True Myth," the ultimate intrusion of God into the world through his incarnation as Jesus of Nazareth. Tolkein's explanation of this idea was instrumental in C.S. Lewis's conversion to Christianity; it is this understanding of the purpose and power of story that gives fiction its depth, breadth and height."

Finding God in Harry Potter by John Granger, Salt River Press 2004, p. 86

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