Tuesday, August 18, 2020

The Surprising Darkness of Peter Rabbit and Friends

If you remember the literary work of Beatrix Potter as cozy little children's books, you may want to rethink your memories.

From The Heroine of Hill Top Farm by John Lanchester:

"Potter's work was always tinged with a bleak realism about death, right from the opening of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, in which we learn that Peter's father has had 'an accident' and ended up in one of Mrs. McGregor's pies. ...

"Even in the lighter stories, such as Two Bad Mice, the main characters experience 'no end of rage and disappointment,' and that is before we encounter the outright evil of the fox in The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck, who encourages Jemima to pick the flavorings and seasonings in which she is to be cooked — a gesture of macabre cruelty which would give pause to Hannibal Lecter.

"This darkness and violence is a central reason to why children like Beatrix Potter. Her bright, brisk, no-nonsense sentences, her sharply observed and beautifully tinted images, and her strong feeling of coziness and domesticity are all underpinned and made real by underlying intimations of darkness, cruelty, and sudden death."

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Truth is...Something similar can be said about the Bible. It's not just a collection of interesting stories about talking donkeys and floating menageries. If we were to make an accurate movie with Scripture as the script, it would certainly be rated R.

In the words of Rich Mullins, "The Bible is not a book for the faint of heart -- it is a book full of all the greed and glory and violence and tenderness and sex and betrayal that befits mankind. It is not the collection of pretty little anecdotes mouthed by pious little church mice -- it does not so much nibble at our shoe leather as it cuts to the heart and splits the marrow from the bone. It does not give us answers fitted to our small-minded questions, but truth that goes beyond what we even know to ask."

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