Friday, December 17, 2010

Jack and the Beanstalk and Miracle on 34th Street

All good stories are echoes of the One Story, telling the account of the fall and redemption.
Jack and the Beanstalk is typical of a good fairy story: it begins with Jack and his mother impoverished, which we later learn was because of the giant’s cruelty to Jack’s father. This is a type of the fall, although in this case the enemy is not the serpent but the giant.
Just as Adam and Eve were banished from paradise, so Jack and his mother are sent to live the life of paupers. Jack, who is a type of Christ, comes and plunders the giant’s castle and redeems is father’s lost fortune, just as Christ bruised the serpent’s head and redeemed us for His kingdom.
The reason Jack and the Beanstalk and similar tales are so compelling is because they echo themes at the very heart of our world and our humanity. All good stories follow this same basic pattern, telling a story of fall and redemption. (This is a point that Brian Godawa brings out in his book Hollywood Worldviews, by the way.)
The movie, Miracle on 34th Street, is no different. It begins with Doris and Susan in a fallen state, although in this case it is a fall into a rationalistic, restricted epistemology which the cold Doris adopted as a form of self-protection after her divorce. Kris revealingly refers to Doris and Susan as “a couple of lost souls.” By the end of the film they are no longer lost but have found redemption, metaphorically, through “faith.” However, unlike Biblical faith, this faith is an existential leap of irrationality, revealing the postmodern epistemology of our age.

For more about this, see my article "Miracle on 34st Street and the Problem with Postmodern Epistemology."

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