Natural Theology of Fun in Anne of Green Gables

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

James 1:17, NASB

When I started studying “theology of fun,” I was skeptical of anything that did not argue straight from the Bible. However, there is a place for learning from general revelation. In the beginning, God made everything, and it was all very good. We can learn a lot about God and His intentions for the world just by looking at the world with open eyes, even when God’s good creation is perverted by sin. Goodness and beauty are inseparable from truth, because God’s true intentions for the world can be seen in everything that is good and beautiful.

Anne of Green Gables seems to intentionally refute anti-fun Christians by showing that fun and creativity are good and beautiful, and therefore come from God. The foil for this perspective is Marilla, a woman obsessed with appearing proper in the eyes of her neighbors. Marilla is introduced with the best sentence of the book:

Here sat Marilla Cuthbert, when she sat at all, always slightly distrustful of sunshine, which seemed to her too dancing and irresponsible a thing for a world which was meant to be taken seriously; and here she sat now, knitting, and the table behind her was laid for supper.

Marilla fails to see the goodness of sunshine because she refuses to believe in one of its God-given purposes. The sunlight dances across the beautiful scenery, illuminating life and producing joy. The proper inference is that God intended for the world to be lively, to be actively enjoyed for His glory. If God made the sunlight to dance, perhaps he also made humans to dance, joining and observing the joyful movement of the cosmos. Marilla cannot see the goodness of dancing because she reasons from the bad premise that life should always be serious.

Marilla was a tall, thin woman, with angles and without curves; her dark hair showed some gray streaks and was always twisted up in a hard little knot behind with two wire hairpins stuck aggressively through it. She looked like a woman of narrow experience and rigid conscience, which she was; but there was a saving something about her mouth which, if it had been ever so slightly developed, might have been considered indicative of a sense of humor.

This description is an unflattering depiction of the rigidity that Marilla strives for; there is nothing attractive about hard angles. The thing that would make Marilla beautiful would be a sense of humor. The ability to lighten up and have a good time is not only socially appealing, but enhances a person’s physical appearance. This beauty shows the goodness of fun like a rose shows the goodness of sunlight. The beauty is a sign of life, and it is nourished by the enjoyment of friendship. A person without a sense of humor is not reaching her full potential, like a flower that fails to bloom in the shade.

I’ve only scratched the surface, but I think I’ve managed to make this point: God intended humans to actively enjoy His world together, to build community and glorify their Creator.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s