My eleven year old daughter loves to read. To my dismay, however, her book choices seem to be limited to tales of sorcery, witchcraft, magic and mythology. What happened to Moby Dick? Huckleberry Fin? I understand the cultural context has changed. But when does “change” become . . . “reversion”?
Google.com defines “reversion” as a return to a previous state, practice or belief.
Literature often reflects the beliefs and/or obsessions of a culture. Historians have used literature to map a culture’s values and beliefs for centuries. This begs the question, where were we in our beliefs and where are we going with our beliefs?
Whether we want to admit it or not, our country was founded on a Christian worldview; one based on clear and consistent expectations from a monotheistic God. Yahweh, as the early Israelites called Him, chose to reveal Himself and His behavioral expectations to humanity to achieve His goal of their redemption.
You might ask, what’s so great about a Chrisitan worldview? Considering some of this nation’s past, the question is justified. The history of this nation, or Western culture in general, is not without scars. Yet, regardless of our mistakes, there was a time when the scaffolding for our cultural norms was built on biblical values– and our society has benefited from its by-products.
We know from comparative religious studies that Israel’s pagan neighbors in the ancient Near East believed in mythology, magic, witchcraft, etc. Details of these practices date back to the third millennium BC. For those who did not believe in Yahweh, magic was a means to garner some semblance of control over their circumstances.
Absent an understanding of the monotheistic God of the Bible, these ancients projected their every need onto a god to serve such need. But the “gods” left the people in the dark of how to appease them. No matter how hard they tried, these ancients would grow frustrated over the lack of clear expectations for behavior. If an act (sacrifice, magic spell, prediction, etc.) “worked” (that is to say, coincided with the desired results) such an act would become a ritual for the future to evoke a similar outcome.
The one true God, however, has always provided clear expectations for behavior. While He does not promise a perfect life, He does promise a perfect eternity for trusting in Him. A culture founded on Yahweh’s covenant through Jesus Christ promotes patient endurance, embraces humility, loves with purity, teaches discipline and accepts personal responsibility. Literature has reflected, for the most part, those values.
But now it seems literature is being inundated with messages of magic and mythology once again. Does this reflect the changing beliefs and values of Western society? I believe so. And I believe this reflects an even deeper change–worldview. As we step away from the Christian values that once girded our culture, magic and idolatry are filling the vacuum. We must be careful that the literature to which we expose our children does not change their perception of reality: Yahweh is the one true God, He is the Creator of the universe, He is in sovereign control of everything and He is the author of history.
Any other beliefs are a step back, not a step forward.