fairy tales and parables
I admit I love a good fairy tale, but I wasn’t so sure about ABC’s series Once Upon A Time when it debuted last year. I couldn’t figure out the story line from the commercials and it seemed rather dark, so I had little desire to watch it. That is until I read an article by Tony Rossi about one of the episodes mid-season. I was intrigued by the story he described and decided to give the pilot episode a shot. That was all it took. I was hooked.
I was amazed as I furiously made my way through the archives of previously aired episodes. The familiar stories were refashioned with such creativity and ingenuity! And the parallel story line set in modern day Maine was equally as captivating.
The season premier is quickly approaching, and Tony Rossi once again writes about this incredible series and the magic of well-told stories:
Envy, jealousy and murder. All the makings of a good children’s story, no?
If you don’t think so, consider the children’s classic Snow White in which the Queen, who is envious and jealous of Snow White’s beauty, tries to kill her with a poison apple. The reason the story is popular, however, is because love conquers all in the end with Prince Charming saving Snow White’s life through true love’s kiss.
So there you have a fairy tale addressing some of life’s big themes – envy, pride, good, evil – in an entertaining way, even a relatable way. I suspect a lot of young girls who have to deal with “mean girls” and bullies can relate to Snow White’s struggle against the Queen. As a character in the pilot episode of the ABC series “Once Upon a Time” says, “What do you think stories are for? These stories – the classics. There’s a reason we all know them. They’re a way for us to deal with our world. A world that doesn’t always make sense.”
…One of the reasons the show is a favorite of mine is that episodes, like these can be seen as parables. Jesus taught through parables for a reason. He realized that human beings can be resistant to being told what to do, so instead He shared stories in which we had to use our own brains to analyze the situation. Stories force us to internalize people’s choices, wrestle with them, then come to our own (hopefully correct) conclusions about them. It may be difficult for us to see how destructive our own feelings of envy or anger toward others are. But seeing another person struggle with the same feelings, along with the destructiveness that ensues, might have a better chance at cracking through our own obstinacy.
Then again, it’s not really the avoidance of the sin that’s attractive, but the positive option it allows. In the Snow White/revenge story I just referenced, it’s not so much that she avoids hatred, but that she chooses love. From a Christian standpoint, she responds to grace. As Catholic author Flannery O’Connor explained, “There is something in us, as storytellers and as listeners to stories, that demands the redemptive act, that demands that what falls at least be offered the chance to be restored.”