A Note From Our Editor: Saint-Exupéry’s Little Prince -- By: John Warwick Montgomery
A Note From Our Editor: Saint-Exupéry’s Little Prince
Effective evangelism and apologetics requires our following the Pauline principle of “becoming all things to all people, that by all means some might be saved”—”a Jew to the Jew and a Greek to the Greeks.” To the great surprise of not a few evangelicals, this entails wide reading, and not just of overtly Christian literature. True, we applaud John Wesley for being “a man of one Book,” the Scriptures; but (1) he was, as a matter of fact, an Oxford graduate and did not limit his reading to the Bible, and (2) in our (much more secular) era we are not going to capture the attention and interest of the unbeliever if we can only quote and discuss the Book of Deuteronomy. I have tried to make this point in my work, Myth, Allegory and Gospel—particularly in the introductory essay—and I have provided a concrete illustration of the value of such an approach in my apologetic handling of Sherlock Holmes: The Transcendent Holmes (www.ciltpp.com).
A recent theatrical experience has offered still another example. Currently at the Casino de Paris, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Little Prince is being presented as a musical. Though in French (obviously), it is universally moving, not least because the children’s book on which it is based has been translated into so many languages. (For the production’s website, go to www.lepetitprince.com; the music is available for purchase as a CD.)
Saint-Exupéry was both an aviator and a writer. His adult works draw on his flying experience (Night Flight, etc.) and he died in a reconnaissance mission over the Mediterranean in 1944. His most famous literary work is surely Le Petit Prince, written and charmingly illustrated by the author in New York in l942. Like Alice in Wonderland, the book operates on two levels, speaking to an audience both of children and of adults. Saint-Exupéry did not consciously write as a Christian believer, but there are touching Christian references in the book, such as his recollection, toward the end of the work, of “the lights of the Christmas tree and the music of the Midnight Mass.” But, like so many sensitive writers who touch the heart of the human condition, he offers a theological bridge to the unbelieving world whether or not he was conscious of doing so. After all, we are told that prophets of the Old Testament were not necessarily aware of the deeper meaning of what they were writing . . .
Le Petit Prince has a very simple plot: an aviator crash lands in a desert and whilst endeavouring to repair his aircraft he is met by a child—the Little Prince—who comes from another world. The Little Prince has visited six planets and now has arrived on earth. His interest is in taking care of his roses, and ...
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