Sunday, April 11, 2010

Fantasy and Faith

Fantasy and faith - In trying to guess how this blog will turn out, that's the best phrase I can think of. Anyone who recognizes the title "Secondary Creations" will realize I don't mean "fantasy" in the sense of something not being true. J.R.R. Tolkien used both terms in his essay "On Fairy-stories," which laid out his own beliefs about fantasy and human creativity. Humans are drawn to create, he said, because we're made in the image of a Creator. Only God is capable of primary creation - making something out of nothing. What we humans create, whether art, or writing, or music, or anything else, is secondary creation - based on the primary creation given to us by God. When I started my shop on Etsy where I sell handmade rosaries, secondarycreations seemed like a good name for it. 

Tolkien spent most of the essay setting out the qualities that make something a fantasy. One of the most important is the eucatastrophe, or "sudden joyful turn": the beast becomes a prince, sleeping beauty awakes, the apple falls from Snow White's mouth and she comes to life again. In the last part of the essay, he shows how this fits the greatest fairy-story of all: the eucatastrophe of the human race that came with the Resurrection of Jesus Christ - an event that, as an orthodox Catholic, Tolkien considered very real indeed. 

I don't plan to make this blog a discussion of Tolkien's faith, because I've already done that in a book-length set of essays you can read at . But as someone who's been a Tolkien geek for over 40 years, I've been greatly shaped by his beliefs. He comes up here because of that Etsy shop name, which is also the title of this blog. I was finally pushed into starting a blog because of that shop, and of other sellers on Etsy emphasizing how important it is to "get out there." Twitter and Facebook are foreign to me, but I figured that since I'm an old hand at writing essays I should be able to handle a blog. We'll see. 

There's an "etsy-mini" in the sidebar here, which is basically a window into some of the featured items in my Etsy shop. At the moment, they're all suggestions for Mother's Day gifts. Another aspect of my own faith that's evident in my shop is that I'm a Franciscan. I try to offer a good variety of Franciscan Crown rosaries because I know they can be hard to find - especially if you want something other than plain black beads or a knotted cord (not that I have anything against plain black beads or knotted cords). Francis also knew the power of story, and of poetry and music. Like Tolkien, he loved God's creation specifically because God had created it. 

Everything might eventually fit together. We'll see.

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