The truth about dragons: They can be beaten

By Curtis K. Shelburne: Religion columnist

I built a dragon last week.

He was only a very small dragon, I’m afraid, and not very strong. We’ve had at least one much larger dragon who was far more daunting. This one only breathed fire two or three times, and I had to supply a light from my Zippo to get even that out of him. The fire-power display was not terribly impressive.

He stayed in our front yard, guarding the estate, I suppose, for only about three good days before he gave up and pretty much melted away with nary a sign left that he’d ever been on the property. Not even any fewmets—which is probably a good thing. (Fewmets are dragon droppings. Look it up. Never let it be said that this column is lacking in educational value.)

My dragon was made of snow, you see. Everyone knows that fire-breathing dragons are impressive beasts, but, as a specialized breed, fire-breathing dragons made of snow face a host of inherent difficulties. It’s almost impossible to get any long-term insurance on one, and it’s best not to get too attached.

In my admittedly limited experience, snow dragons, properly cared for, tend to be more affectionate than most cats but far less so than most dogs.

As I mentioned, as dragons go, this one wasn’t a very strong dragon. But it was good to have him around awhile. I’ve known the security of having a Great Dane in the back yard, but the right dragon in the front yard is hard to beat, and I’ve always felt good when we had one there. I just wish they’d stay longer.

Now, I should probably mention that as a preacher, I generally feel pretty much duty bound to try to tell the truth. I suppose that’s one reason why that in almost twenty years of writing this column, though I’ve always found dragons fascinating, I’ve not written much about them.

You see, when describing dealings with dragons, it’s especially tempting to throw caution to the wind, overstate the facts, and add embellishments to the tale. (The dragon in my yard did have an embellishment on his tail: it was a spike-like manta ray-type appendage.)

So I’ve tried to be conservative in describing my dragon. I’ve told you that he was small and weak and fire-challenged. That is absolutely the truth, and we should not play fast and loose with the truth, even where dragons are concerned.

My tale is true.

But sometimes we do well to bear in mind that a good made-up story can contain within it truth of the very best sort. I think that’s what G. K. Chesterton was saying when he wrote that “fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

My dragon was a very tame dragon. But not all dragons are. Dragons of despair, disease, and death can be frightening indeed. But the best story of all, true in every sense, was told and lived and made real by the One who defeated the worst dragons that have ever oppressed us. His true story tells us the deep truth that dragons can indeed be beaten. Because of Him, we need fear no dragon at all.The Truth About Dragons: They Can Be Beaten!