Rick Riordan taught middle school english and history for fifteen years before turning to writing full time. He’s the author of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series of five books that’s been on the New York Times Best Seller list for children’s books coming up on 150 weeks now. The series has sold millions of copies of books; a movie was made of the first book. And what’s the premise? That the Greek gods are alive and that they walk amongst us—that there are children of these gods in our schools—that monsters roam our cities—that something called Mist keeps us, as mortals, from seeing what there is to see—that Mist makes sure what we see conforms to our expectations and our presuppositions. Rick’s done real well with this series! In fact, he’s done so well with the Greek gods, he’s moved onto a new series about the Egyptian gods!
He’s tapped into some of what made a certain English boy wizard such a phenomenon: tracking the development of children into youth, rooting them in a community that appreciates them, that celebrates and honors them, that grants them extraordinary freedom to move in and through the world, that puts them in life and death situations and grants them great power to make a difference—to do great things of cosmic importance, and to do them in such obviously impressive ways.
And as much as I enjoy these stories, they’re all about children and youth who are different—who are extraordinarly impressive (even if humble)—who are not like us and who make us dream of not being like us.
And here’s the thing, Rick Riordan and Percy Jackson haven’t got a thing on Scripture. They’ve sold their millions, sure. The Bible has sold over a billion! Top best seller of all time.
It’s on us … it’s on me, as a preacher—teller of Bible stories—it’s on all of us as ministers—it’s on us as Sunday School teachers and as parents—it’s on us … if we haven’t conveyed … if we don’t convey … if we don’t diligently try to persistently convey to our children and our youth that there is no better story than our story—no more exciting story than our story—no story more challenging—more important—more relevant. That everything that makes Riordan’s books fun … and J.K. Rowlings’ for that matter, the stories of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien and Ovid—everything that makes these good, is in the Bible. Everything that makes them exciting. Everything that makes you wish you could spend a year at Hogwarts or a summer at Half-Blood Camp—or walk through a wardrobe to Narnia or find yourself in Middle Earth, it’s all in the Bible.
Because what makes these books so popular is how close they get to the truth—that being a part of the Fellowship of the Ring, one of the children sent to Narnia, chosen for the house of Griffindor, named a child of a god—it’s all part of what it means to be church—a place and a people committed to tracking the development of children into youth, rooting them in a community that appreciates them—that celebrates and honors them—named the children of the one God—called in this place—for this time—to incarnate God—to manifest priorities other than the monstrous ones of our culture—to see through the Mist—beyond expectations and presuppositions—beyond the impressive and the immediate—entrusted with the transformation and redemption of creation—granted, within an extraordinary freedom, the truth of living in life and death situations—acknowleding our power to make a difference—to do great things of cosmic importance, and yet to do them in the most humble of ways—getting over our world’s fascination with the apparent, the impressive, the physical, the flashy—growing into realizing it’s not about acquiring magical objects, or learning spells, or knowing how to fight with a sword, or learning how to harness and unleash the powers of nature.
For if you believe—if you believe, then the story unfolds within you and around you. If you believe—if you have faith, you begin to see the miraculous as a part of your day-to-day. And the dream is no longer that we might not be like us, but that it is we, in fact, created and blessed by God, in the day-to-day realities of our family relationships and the way we treat others at school, the way we learn to give and the way we learn to forgive, in the way we read the story of God—study and learn the story of God in order to live that story—it’s we, no different from anyone else, but having chosen the way of God, it’s we who bring the greatest story ever told to life.
Do you realize your power?