Wednesday, April 06, 2016

A Landscape With Dragons

"Yes", she said, getting really excited. "And that means we'll never run out of good books to read. There's always a new story."
Yes, I thought, always a new story, but really a very old story. It sounds simple: A king made a beautiful kingdom, and he filled it with creatures whom he loved. A dragon crept out of the darkness and sought to devour an entire world. A brave man faced him, and the dragon slew the man. And that man was God, but nobody knew that until the man came back to life. Then he took the weapon with which the dragon had killed him, and he battled the dragon. The dragon hated the Cross and feared the way the man changed it into a thing that could defeat him and his legions. God is the maker of this one great story, which contains all the billions of lesser stories, and he will decide how the tale ends. This story really happened, and parts of it are still happening and some of the most terrific parts are still to come. If you have the heart of a child, you will know that this is true. And you will know that a certain dragon has a persistent desire to devour our children.

But in Western civilization, founded on the clearer vision of Judaism and flowering in the fuller revelation of the New Testament, the symbol of the dragon sharpened into focus, assuming its definitive identity. Thus, in the literature of the West dragons have been regarded as powerful agents of evil, guardians of stolen treasure hoards, destroyers of the good and the weak (children, maidens, small idyllic kingdoms), and, on the spiritual level, a personification of Satan prowling through the world seeing the ruin of souls.

The dragon that takes no form is the worst kind, and I would rather it not prowl around the neighborhood I call home. Most of all I do not want it infesting my children's minds. I do not want them befriending it, either, nor do I want it calming their instinctive good fears and perhaps in the process taking possession of their very selves.

It is the real dragon against which I want my children armed. Their interior life has need of tales that inform them of their danger and instruct them at deep levels about the tactics of their enemy. It is good that our children fear dragons, for in fearing, they can learn to overcome fear with courage. Dragons cannot be tamed, and it is fatal to enter into dialogue with them. The old stories have taught our children this.

~ Michael D. O'Brien, A Landscape with Dragons: The Battle for Your Child's Mind

I started reading this book several years ago, but did not finish it. In my efforts to read the books that are on my shelf, I restarted this book earlier this week. I know I may not agree with everything he says or the way he says it, but on the whole, I believe it is an excellent book.


  1. My friend Anna owns and shared this with me but I failed to begin it before she needed it back. I enjoyed vigen guroian's Tending the Heart of Virtue very much. I'd like to read the O'Brien, this just encourages me. 😘

    1. I borrowed Tending the Heart of Virtue from the library but it came in at the same time as a few other books, so I couldn't finish it before it had to go back. Good time to request it again!


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