Wednesday, September 23, 2009
The Book of the Dun Cow
Before you run screaming, let me assure you this is not a kid's book. Yes, it has a chicken on the cover. Get over it. Yes, it's a talking chicken. Again, get over it. It's an allegory.
I'm not a big fan of allegories. I don’t like Narnia, because I felt like the author cheated me by disguising a Christian allegory as a fantasy series.I also don’t like Pilgrim’s Progress, because the author didn’t bother to disguise his Christian allegory at all.
And yet, one of my favorite books is a Christian allegory. At least I think it is. It’s been disguised just the right amount. And whatever else it is, it's also an exciting story. It‘s Walter Wangerin‘s “The Book of the Dun Cow,” a barnyard tale of cosmic dimensions and eternal ramifications.
You don’t hear much about it, but when it came out in 1978 The New York Times proclaimed it “The Best Book of the Year.”
There’s a rooster and a dog and a cow, of course, but there’s also the big stuff:
“For in those days the earth was fixed in the absolute center of the universe. It had not yet been cracked loose from that holy place, to b sent whirling -- wild, helpless and ignorant -- among the blind stars.”
Inside this world, God has locked away Wyrm.
“He was in the shape of a serpent, so damnably huge that he could pass once around the earth and then bit his own tail ahead of him…. He was powerful, because evil is powerful. He was angry. And he hated, with an intense and abiding hatred, the God who had locked him within the earth. And what put the edge upon his hatred, what made it an everlasting acid inside of him, was the knowledge that God had given the key to his prison in this bottomless pit to a pack of animals.”
The animals don’t know this, but in the course of the story they will find out and we shall see if God chose wisely when he picked a rooster to hold back the mighty Wyrm.
So, this barnyard is more than a barnyard. And this book is more than a barnyard tale. AND more than just another allegory.