Every Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!
Science Fiction Parable
Before I dive in here, I want to note that there are SPOILERS for the last book of the fantastic Firebird series by Kathy Tyers in what follows.
Kathy Tyers’ Firebird Trilogy was an amazing piece of science fiction which integrated issues of faith and worldview into a stirring narrative. In Daystar, book five of the Firebird series, the prophesied Messiah, the Boh-Dabar, has come. The book is in many ways a science fictional retelling of the biblical Gospels. The Boh-Dabar, Tavkel, is a clear parallel of Jesus in many ways, including the telling of parables. One of these parables was particularly striking, and I’ve amended it to quote it here[mostly took out other dialogue and place names]:
“Once there was a little girl… She had a little pet that she loved… It was a kind of creature she’d never seen…. It had four stubby legs, a big head, ans sharp little teeth… She opened the bag of pet food the dealer sold them, she put the food into [the pet’s] bowl, and she stroked it while it ate with those sharp little teeth… After a few days, the girl noticed something. Her pet wasn’t getting any bigger. In fact, it looked thin… She found out that [its] species was strictly herbivorous–but the pet dealer had sold them dried meat pellets by mistake…
“It looked like a carnivore. So she asked her parents to buy the right food… And it sniffed the good food, but it wouldn’t eat. It walked away from the bowl and looked up at her with desparately hungry eyes. It had learned to like the wrong food. It refused to eat what would nourish it, because that food seemed strange and mysterious. One day it lay down at her feet, looking up at her with those hungry eyes, and it died.” (430-431, cited below)
The story is powerful and emotionally charged. Like the parables of Jesus, it also hints at much beyond the mere words spoken. For the rest of the book, Meris–the non-believing character Tavkel is telling the parable too–reflects on it and tries to draw out its meaning. The meaning, however, does not become clear until the Boh-Dabar fulfills the same kind of prophecies which Christ fulfilled.
Looking at this specific parable, there are many layers of possible meaning. How might we be eating food that doesn’t nourish us? Could it be a sinful habit, a practice, a temptation we give in to? Have we made ourselves used to bad food so that we don’t recognize that which is good? Do we need to ask God to help bring healing to our own habits of life? But the text could go in other directions as well. Have we seen others in ways that are mistaken? Perhaps we see something about someone else and think we do not want to associate with them. We see “sharp teeth” and think “predator.” We flee from that which is different.
Daystar is a wonderful piece of fiction which points beyond itself to something even better. Tyers has done a great service to readers by uniting themes of faith with stirring science fiction action and intrigue. This parable, I’m sure, will stick with me for some time, and that is exactly what good fiction should do–point you towards truth.
Enter [Science] Fictional Messiah- Kathy Tyers’ “Wind and Shadow” and “Daystar”– I look into several worldview themes that Tyers raises in these sequels to her Firebird trilogy. What would a Messiah in the future look like?
Sunday Quote– If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)
Kathy Tyers’ “Firebird Trilogy”- Faith, Humanity, and Conflict in the Far Future– I look at a number of worldview issues brought up in the “Firebird Trilogy.” Be sure also to check out my review of the trilogy on my other site.
Kathy Tyers, Daystar (Colarado Springs, CO: Marcher Lord Press [Now Enclave Press], 2012).