"And they lived happily ever after!" Escapism or reality?

Since I was just a little boy, one of my favorite lines in the world is..."and they lived happily ever after."  I've always loved movies and books that have happy endings.  I've read so many books and seen so many movies that didn't have happy endings and at the end I always feel let down.  I began to wonder why that happy ending was so important to me; why it struck such a chord in me.

Is it just escapist?  A desire to escape from the turmoil and suffering I see and experience?  Is it a desire for a type of fantasy comfort food?  Possibly.  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that wasn't the real reason.  I'm a Star Trek fan and when a young Captain Kirk was in the Star Fleet Academy he had to take a certain test that determined your fitness for leadership.  It was a required test...and unwinnable.  It was a simulation of a real battle scenario.  Captain Kirk took the test and failed it--twice.  But the third time he passed it, which by the way was impossible without cheating...which he had done.  He had simply reprogrammed the computer program so the potential to win was there.  He got in a lot of trouble for it, but I remember the reason he gave under questioning.  "I don't believe in the no-win scenario."

He had a problem with the game itself, with the idea behind it, the reason they were being made to take it and this was his response to it.  In the same way I believe in happy endings, not just for amusement or inspiration, but because God is the Author of our story--and He is the author of happy endings.  We have to experience great struggle and much disappointment in life--but for each of us who believe, God does have a happy ending planned.

One of my favorite authors, J.R. Tolkien, a Christian who wrote, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings, and other books insists that all of us really sense that happy endings aren't just escapist, but somehow true to reality.  He said that stories like his that had happy endings actually point to an underlying reality.  When we read these kind of stories we are being told that yes, the world is full of danger, sorrow, and tragedy, but nonetheless there is a meaning to things.  There is a difference between good and evil and one day evil will be defeated and truth and good will win.

Like Captain Kirk, I don't believe in the no-win scenario either.  That's why I believe in happy endings.


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