Yes, the day after Halloween is a holy day, known as All Saints Day. Of course, few of us can remember how we got a day devoted to dead, holy people. Even fewer people know how “All Hallows Eve” is related to a holiday we all know and love as Halloween. But, we need to understand this connection if we are to understand the huge disconnect many young people are feeling today.
A parent recommended I share The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, by C. S. Lewis with my students. I don’t think there’s anything more beautiful than watching a young person slowly turn the pages of that book; watch them as they fall into that dreamy, ice-encased universe that engulfed me in my youth.
What happened to enchanted Narnia? What happened to our golden age?–when proud lions could defeat evil queens, and good always triumphed in the end. Those days never really existed, is what young people are clamoring to tell us today.
Fiction is no longer about being transported away from real life perils. Fiction today is about getting down and dirty and facing our darkest fears. Isn’t that what great books do? Help you find a mythical place where all those fears you thought were yours alone are shared by the tribe. But this year, when I asked my bright students in one class if they knew C. S. Lewis. I got nothing but blank stares.
Why does this surprise me? Especially after checking out the books my kids want to share with their parents. Here are the top three:
Speak, by Laura Halse Anderson
Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher
The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
Hallow’s Eve and All Saints Day were usurped by Halloween because Halloween offered a dark and thrilling challenge to death that was much more palatable then standing in a darkened church reciting prayers. Halloween is about stories that scare you into a state of irresistible fear.
I’m convinced fewer of my students know Narnia today because of it’s Christian associations. Last week, I wrote “Gender” was the new dirty word. Might was well add “Christian” –as in “Christian Fiction”– to the list, and I can’t really blame young people for nixing it. Young people just aren’t into the cardboard characters, and morally-correct stories that make up most CF today. Who is?
We need to change that. I don’t think students should be required to recite prayers at school. Religion and God are dead in this new age of anxiety. But the saints were some pretty good role models for many of us. All Saints Day is about remembering real people who did some pretty unreal things.
Who do we have now to replace them?
Wonder Woman. A great choice, except she isn’t real and Hollywood has her sexed out like a supermodel.
Parents, wake up. If you really want a someone for your kids to look up to, find one who’s real enough to actually be redeemed. Why not Clay Jensen and Hannah Baker? How about Melinda Sordino?
We need more that talking animals to deal with issues like sexual assault, and suicide. I wish I could go back to once upon a time…but it’s time for all of us to answer another question:
Would you rather traipse through Narnia? Or, see if you can survive the trails of Panem?
You pays your dues. You makes your choice.
Join the dialogue
And get a free book about an idiosyncratic Saint.
Cease & Desist