What is YOUR Quest?
Posted by gandalf30598
Whether we know it or not, life our lives and the stories we know so well are linked. A good friend and I were recently discussing how to help a mutual acquaintance whose life seems to have gone off the rails. We realized that he had taken on a “life narrative” of victimization and betrayal. Everything that happens to him is interpreted from within the context of this story line; innocent acts by his friends are seen as betrayals because that is the default setting for how he understands his life, not because there is any objective reason to think they actually are. The results are self-destructive, as you can well imagine.
The conversation moved on to the importance of establishing a healthy life story to live by. We can only write the story of our own lives up to a point, but a central component of a healthy self-concept is the life narrative we adopt. It has a powerful influence on how we interpret our life events and on how we make decisions that affect the way our lives actually do unfold. This realization leads to the importance of exposure to good literature from a young age, powerful stories that model for us who we are and lay out quest trajectories by which we create a vision for understanding our purpose and calling.
The Bible is of course the most important. It has the ultimate hero, the ultimate knight in shining armor, Christ. It has the classic villain, Satan, and the classic damsel in distress, the human race. The Hero goes on an epic journey, at great personal sacrifice defeats the Villain, and the Hero and the Damsel then ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after. That metanarrative actually happened, indeed, is happening. Therefore, if it defines your life story, you live in hope and meaning. Adopt any other narrative and you will have nothing but arbitrary choices standing between you and futility, nothing but arbitrary values between you and boredom, nothing but lies and false hopes between you and despair.
Other good literature can help too, by reinforcing the biblical narrative and fleshing it out in our imaginations. Is life a meaningless, self-centered ramble or a purposeful quest? We need Oddyseus’s journey home to Ithaca,Aeneas’s journey to find a new homeland for his people, Dante’s journey through Hell and Heaven, Frodo’s journey to the Cracks of Doom, Reepicheep’s journey to the Utter East, and Puddleglum’s journey back to Overland, to help keep us fresh and focused. Is this world our home, or are we just a-passing through? If so, to what end? The choices we make and the quality of our experience will depend on how we conceptualize the journey of life. We need the Bible as a foundation and other good literature to reinforce it in order to be travelers who will arrive at our destined end and be healthy and productive along the way.
Donald T. Williams, PhD, is R. A. Forrest Scholar at Toccoa Falls College and the author of eight books, including three from Lantern Hollow Press: Stars Through the Clouds (his collected poetry), Inklings of Reality: Essays toward a Christian Philosophy of Letters, and Reflections from Plato’s Cave. To order, go to
About gandalf30598Theologian, philosopher, poet, and critic; minister of the Gospel who makes his living by teaching medieval and renaissance literature; dual citizen of Narnia and Middle Earth.
Posted on June 24, 2013, in C. S. Lewis, Donald Williams, Homer, J.R.R. Tolkien, Middle Earth, Narnia, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings and tagged Aeneas, C. S. Lewis, Dante, Frodo, Homer, J. R. R. Tolkien, metanarrative, narrative, Oddyseus, puddleglum, Reepicheep, Virgil. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.