Dragons, giants and vampires: or, how a good allegory can get under your skin

A good allegory can change the course of history. After all, it was the story of a “sheep-napped” and eaten lamb that convicted King David of his sin against God, Uriah and his wife Bathsheba. (Not familiar with that one? Read 2 Samuel 12…) And it is my fervent prayer that a few good allegories such as Pilgrims Progress and The Chronicles of Narnia will serve to correct and direct my sons’ lives as well.

“Mom,” my 7-year-old said to me after seeing the latest release at the theater, “The Dawn Treader is a lot like that movie we watched about Christian following that path.”

I got all misty – I was so proud of his conclusion! It had been a month since we’d watched Pilgrims Progress on DVD. Although I love the themes, I’d always dismissed John Bunyon’s allegory as somewhat cheesy and simplistic, an opinion unfortunately underlined by the bargain-basement production values of the particular video we saw. What I had snobbishly dismissed as weakness is in fact the texts’ greatest strength and may help explain why this 333-year-old story has never been out of print and resonated in my son’s mind.

My second-grader saw the connection between Eustice being trapped in the body of a dragon and the travelling companions Christian and Hopeful being held by the Giant Despair – and how in each case relief and release is available.

It is easy to overcomplicate how God provides salvation for us. That the God of the Universe would care enough about each of us to provide a way for us to become his children is truly a mind-boggling thing. God strips from us the accumulation of our sin and opens the doors of traps we have walked ourselves into through disobedience. It takes true genius to make these concepts of grace readily understandable to a child without losing the vital nuances of our responsibilities in this tale.

When my sons are older and begin to think about girls, I will steer them in the direction of another writer of allegories, the amazing Ted Dekker. I just completed reading his latest novel, Immanuel’s Veins, an allegory of sin and redemption – as well as a fabulous illustration of how love in real life is supposed to work as well.

Dekker ably illustrates just how sneaky our eternal enemy is, how attractive he makes himself and his lies and how he insinuates himself almost seamlessly into our lives if we are not constantly vigilant. And, Dekker does it with the hottest fiction vehicle in the publishing business – vampires.

Yeah, it’s right up my alley. To quote another literary gem, Mary Poppins, “A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down!”

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