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Burnt Marshwiggle: An Open Letter to Eugene O’Neill

June 6, 2011

Dear Eugene O’Neill,

I don’t believe you. I don’t believe you or your illustrious kindred spirit, Tennessee Williams. You’ve tried to fool your audiences and you almost fooled me, but life is not a Long Day’s Journey into Night.

Don’t get me wrong, you’re an excellent playwright. All your nuts and bolts are in the right places and properly fastened and the picture you’ve painted is accurate, to a point. You’re right, you see: life certainly seems to move from “a glorious beginning to a tarnished end.” Mankind as a whole does, in fact, seem to be sliding inevitably into despair. After all, in the end we all die. And your play certainly conveys all this with a poignancy bordering on beauty. There’s no use denying it.

But I do not believe you, sir. The the sickly-sweet enchanted fires of ancient heroism, seeming so glorious in their stubborn tragedy, cannot make me forget the God who has overturned all this tragedy with the joy of His salvation and the promise of the resurrection. After our long day’s journey, night must come, to be sure; but morning must always come after night. And dawn is ever the hope of men.

Christ is come at dawn, you see. And not only has His death slain sin, but His resurrection has defeated death. The King is returned out of the very jaws of Hades to claim His bride. And at the wedding feast of the Lamb “night too shall be beautiful and blessed and all its fears pass away.”

You may tell me that my story is absurd, but I am with Puddleglum. I am for Aslan. I would readily stick my foot in the fire and allow the smell of burnt marshwiggle to clear the air. “Suppose we have only dreamed it and made it up,” goes the Marshwiggle Argument, “In that case, the made up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. We’re just babies making up a game if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow.”

So thanking you kindly for your excellent assessment of the hopelessness of man without Christ, if my companions are ready, we’re leaving your theatre at once and setting out into the dark to remake the world after the image of Christ. For, behold, He makes all things new (Rev. 21:5).

For Narnia, for the Dúnedain; for Aslan and for Christ,


One Comment leave one →
  1. robinjharris permalink
    June 6, 2011 2:44 PM

    I love this Brittany! Beautiful. Please write me an article for the next issue of the magazine. I’ll even let you write about theater, if you want.

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