I enjoy history, especially when I can match up certain events which occurred simultaneously in different places, making for an interesting snapshot of the world at a particular moment in time.
Two events juxtaposed create a different story than either would individually.
Seventy-five years ago this week the classic Disney movie Fantasia debuted in the United States. It was the third Disney movie, preceded by Snow White in 1937 and Pinocchio a bit earlier in 1940.
Story number two also occurred seventy-five years ago this week, as the Nazi’s were locking down the Warsaw Ghetto in Poland.
The Warsaw Ghetto was an area of less than one and a half square miles where 400,000 Jews were herded and sealed in. Most were eventually transported to concentration camps and killed, many others died in the ghetto. A small percentage survived.
The same week, German bombers destroyed the city of Coventry, England, which included a 14th century cathedral near and dear to the hearts of the English. In retaliation, the British launched nighttime bombing raids on military targets near the city of Hamburg, Germany. Within a month, the British would begin to bomb civilian targets in Germany, something they chose to avoid until then.
It was an awful time in world history.
Meanwhile, across the ocean in America, viewers flocked to see Fantasia, listening in amazing and new “Fantasound.” It sold out theaters for months. As a matter of fact, Fantasia played on Broadway in New York for 57 consecutive weeks. (The opening night proceeds were donated to British war relief)
All kinds of art are the deep breath of relief that everyone needs living in the midst of evil, no matter where or when. Sometimes it is best to confront issues head on, but other times it is good to escape from life’s problems. Art provides escape.
As authors develop a personal “brand” in their work, one of the variables each need to decide is whether they write to make readers escape or engage life. The line is usually drawn between fiction (escape) and non-fiction (engage).
Often, Christian writers want to do both, but do better at one than the other. They might write a great story that transports the reader, but the lesson takeaway is veiled and not obvious. Conversely, a great lesson packaged in story form can often come across wooden or preachy.
There are exceptions to this of course, but few and far between. The ability to do both well requires great and rare talent.
ISIS, terrorist attacks, trafficking, drug trade, wars, Ebola, nuclear weapon proliferation, refugees, climate change, violence in the cities, churches closing, genders changing, leaders failing, earthquakes rumbling, fires burning, campus shooting, storms raging.
We certainly need to engage problems to solve them, but you can’t blame people for wanting to escape it all sometimes. For humans, it’s part of our spiritual fabric, knitted together by the Creator, yearning for the day when we escape this world for a much, much better one.
Until then we provide both engagement and escape. It’s called publishing.