As we survey the stories around us, we start to see that certain authors put into their writing their views of the world. This is normal and expected. Dr. Seuss’s whimsy comes through on every rhyme, even though his World War 2 political cartoons were hard-handed against isolationism. The macabre of Alfred Hitchcock is in every dark and foreboding scene of his films – and it is said that it came from him being punished in a jail cell at a young age. The wonder of C.S. Lewis in his fictional works is very apparent, so much in fact that arguably it brought both science fiction and children’s fantasy away from pulp and into the mainstream.
The views of the writers are in their works because it all comes from their worldview. A worldview is basically the beliefs and values that we perceive the world through. We all have our worldviews, and Nancy Pearcey in her book “Total Truth” writes that a worldview consists of 3 parts: Creation, Fall, and Redemption.
Creation is how things came into being or ultimate origins.
Fall would be the explanation of why there is pain and suffering.
Redemption is what would be needed to return to the perfect state before the Fall. This may even be better than what was created in the first place.
Nancy Pearcey gives some examples of this framework in her book ‘Total Truth:’
Creation: The state of nature
Fall: Society or civilization
Redemption: The state
New Age Thought:
Creation: A universal spiritual essence
Fall: Our sense of individuality
Redemption: Being united with the universal spiritual essence”
This framework can also be seen to reflect the worldview that is given the plot line of a story. Let’s apply this framework to a couple of common recent films:
Creation: The world of humans free from machine rule. Zion is a reflection of this state of glory (which is more of a vision of Margaret Mead’s Samoa based on the rave scene in the 2nd film, but we are only looking at the first movie).
Fall: The enslavement of mankind into the matrix that supposedly will happen in this century and make us relive the 1990’s continually (cue scary music).
Redemption: The freedom of mankind away from the matrix. This resolution is assumed but never was seen (or at least I like to think that, in reality the resolution in the 3rd film was a sunrise).
Creation: Cobb (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) is married and lives with his two children.
Fall: Cobb and his wife dive into Limbo, and when back in the real world, Cobb’s wife commits suicide. Their kids are consequently taken away.
Redemption: After the events of the movie, Cobb lets go of the memory of his wife and is reunited with his kids (I would like to think – but the top is still spinning on that one).
The Lion King
Creation: The lion tribe with all of the land in complete balance.
Fall: The death of Mufasa at the hands of his brother. Simba, the son of the King, takes the blame and runs away leaving the kingdom with the murderer.
Redemption: Simba returns, learns the truth about his father’s death, claims the throne and returns the kingdom to its former balance and glory.
Why is it that when we tell stories we mostly follow this format? I believe that it is because we are also in what we would call a story and a story in tension. We see all evidence of a Fall with all the evil in the world, and because there was a Fall there must have been something to Fall from. Also, in light of the evidence of a Fall, we yearn for justice – for things to be made right. These three elements create in us a drive to tell stories in which this may or may not happen but nonetheless is hoped for.
When you read or watch a story, keep these elements in mind to see where it will take you. It may be surprising to see the stories we do not like are the ones that truly do not redeem their Fall, while the ones that stand the test of time hit a deep need of Redemption.