Field of Dreams

Belief in fairy tales is the belief in non-rational possibility. Living and telling the Gospel is entering into the world of Faerie, a season of mists that shroud hidden isles and pleasant little people with wondering eyes and furry toes. Kierkegaard speaks of God as possibility, as the open-endedness which makes humanity's self-imposed limitations so very laughable. Likewise, Buechner urges his readers to examine their inner feelings, which he claims contradict, or at least vastly expand upon, the limited world our rationalistic thinking has built for us.

I understand that somewhere the Bible quotes God as having said, "By faith alone I exist, and proof denies faith." "Field of Dreams" is about a man who is willing to risk all in the name of faith, who refuses to provide proof or justification to his detractors, and who embarks on a quest at the urging of a voice heard dimly as though a distant memory. By doing so, by following the tail of the Will-'O-Wisp rather than the dictates of society and sanity, he receives a glimpse of a truth deeper than all the debts he ever incurred and richer than a thousand acres of grain. Buechner quotes Tolkien in saying that the deepest intuition of truth we have is the "catch of the breath, that beat and lifting of the heart, near to (or indeed accompanied by) tears," which is the same catch-and-tear shared by Costner on the screen and the audience in their seats when Doc steps over the ghostline to give a girl back her breath. That catch is the intimation of truth manifest, the truth written in the Gospel of Mark and of Man.

One of the earliest stories in the Bible, one most fairy-tale-like and beloved of children, is the tale of a man named Noah. The man heard voices that told him to throw down everything he was doing and build a largish boat. This may happen far more frequently than anyone suspects, but this particular instance stood out in his neighbors' minds because he didn't live near any water. So here he was, hammering away at his ark of promise, trying to stolidly ignore the heckles and jeers of his peers, possibly trying to forestall a foreclosure on his farm (or bakery or whatever he owned before he became God's Boatswain). And what do you know? It begins to rain. Not just rain, but downright pour. Cats and dogs and lions and tigers and bears oh my. It turned out that the magic was real, and I can picture thousands of species lining up in the cold drizzle to board his mighty skiff, just like the thousands of headlights curled back into the night as people came to witness to the magic of that typical/atypical Iowa cornfield. Like the Mann said, "the people will come, Ray. The people will most definitely come." Just as the rain came, just as the Christ came. As Buechner says, "the point seems to be that they did not have to go a great distance to enter the [field] of dreams." Go the distance, whispers the voice. Get up and go the distance, implores Peart. If we fail in this, it will not be for lack of urging.

PostScriptum: I heard that somewhere in Romans Paul said that without the Resurrection and Ascension, all would be for naught. If he did indeed so say, I imagine that his meaning was that the empty tomb proved that there really was an Easter Bunny, that the fairy tale was true after all. To me, that seems sort of like photographing Santa Claus (something much more fun to strive for than actually achieve), but sometimes drastic means are necessary to convert the lost and fill the coffers. So much for faith.