Good Turns on the Way to a Happy Ending
Tolkien coined a word to explain what he called a genre of literature called Fairy Stories. He was a philologist as well as a Roman Catholic, both of which C.S. Lewis says he was told to distrust. Nonetheless, when we draw from Tolkien we are not taking his Roman Catholicism, but his truth, which if truth at all is God’s truth. And of course all truth is not created equal, but it is truth that we are after.
Now, the term eucatastrophe simply means a happy ending. It literally means “a good turn.” But listen to how Tolkien describes it:
“It is the mark of a good fairy-story, of the higher or more complete kind, that however wild its events, however fantastic or terrible the adventures, it can give to child or man that hears it, when the ‘turn’ comes, a catch of the breath, a beat and lifting of the heart, near to (or indeed accompanied by) tears, as keen as that given by any literary art, and having peculiar quality.” (Tolkien On Fairy-storiese pp. 75–76)
Here we then have the definition of a fairy story as coined by Tolkien. It is the ‘turn’ that can bring you to tears of joy flowing out of hope in a given story. Now let’s take this to the Christian Story:
“I would venture to say that approaching the Christian Story from this direction, it has long been my feeling (a joyous feeling) that God redeemed the corrupt making-creatures, men, in a way fitting to this aspect, as to others, of their strange nature. The Gospels contain a fairy-story, or a story of a larger kind which embraces all the essence of fairy-stories. They contain many marvels…and among the marvels is the greatest and most complete conceivable eucatastrophe…The Birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of Man’s history. The Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation. This story begins and ends in joy.
But, I see eucatastrophe even after the resurrection in the book of Acts, and that is why I am writing this post. It’s an introduction. There are indeed ‘good turns’, eucatastrophes along the way to final happy ending or eucatastrophe of this world. Amen. SDG.