FAIRY TALES, ANIMAL HELPERS AND ‘THE PROBLEM OF GOOD’

by contemplativeinquiry

Recently I came across an article about fairy tales, which included brief reviews of several books and some general observations. The author was Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the Anglican Communion. Below, and without further comment from me, I include an extract which caught my attention.

“There is a clear strand of social resistance running through much of the old material, a strand repeatedly weakened, in not denied, by nervous rewriting. But this depends on the conviction underlying all this sort of storytelling: that the world is irrationally generous as well as unfairly hurtful. There is no justice but there is a potentially hopeful side to anarchy, and we cannot tell in advance where we will find solidarity. Or, to put it in more theological terms, there is certainly a problem of evil in the way the world goes. Yet there is also a ‘problem of good’ – utterly unexpected and unscripted resources in unlikely places. And at the very least this suggests to the audience for the tale a more speculatively hopeful attitude to the non-human environment as well as to other people. Just be careful how you treat a passing fox, hedgehog or thrush.”

See also http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/2014/12/rowan-williams-why-we-need-fairy-tales-now-more-ever

 

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