My daughter Sophia, 6 years old, has become a big fan of the Avengers. Her favorite, she says, is Thor. So after watching The Avengers film together recently, I thought we’d watch Thor together as well. I had not seen it previously.
A few minutes in, you get a good look at Asgard. It’s a beautiful, golden city. Sophie was astonished: “What? Come on! Asgard is all gold? I wish our world was like that!”
I smiled. I just let it sink in for a bit. I didn’t want to turn it too quickly into a “lesson.” But I didn’t want to miss the opportunity either. Since Sophie was old enough to understand stories, I’ve always told her the story of our world more or less like this: “God made this beautiful world. But there was a dragon who didn’t like what God had done, and he came down here and broke the world. He even lied to us, and we helped him break it. But there is one person who is able to defeat the dragon.” You see where it’s going. While we’ve talked before of how Jesus will make all things new and finally defeat the dragon once and for all in the end, this was my first really great opening to explore that more.
I paused the film. We talked about the story she knew of the beautiful world that the dragon broke. But then we talked about the better, golden world that Jesus would bring to us when he makes all things new.
“But then the dragon will break that world, I guess,” Sophie said. “No, Sophie,” I replied. “When the world is made new and is more beautiful than Asgard, the dragon will be locked up forever and will never be able to break anything again.”
When we turned the movie on that afternoon, I thought, “I could be doing a craft or reading to her or working with her on math or some other more productive project.” And obviously those things are important. But none of those things would have been as eternally important as watching a movie that drew, however faithfully or unfaithfully, from a mythology that asks the same questions humans have always been asking, and that only Jesus can answer. In this case, the story created a longing in my daughter for something that Jesus had promised her, and promised us all.
I’m reminded once again of Tolkien’s retort to C.S. Lewis about myths: “They are not lies.”
Blessed are the legend-makers with their rhyme of things not found within recorded time.