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Logical consequences, tough love, grace? Well, at least they got dinner that night... But did they feel visited by "unmerited favor"? Illustrator: Kittelsen, Theodor Severin (1857-1914)

Logical consequences, tough love, grace? Well, at least they got dinner that night… But did they feel visited by “unmerited favor”?
Illustrator: Kittelsen, Theodor Severin (1857-1914)

“…with tough love and natural consequences.” Simplia muttered it under her breath, not loud enough to interrupt the people who were holding forth around the table with examples of Grace found in fairy tales. She did hope Sagacia could hear her.

But Sagacia was trying to listen to what Charles Kiernan had to say:

I don’t find the word “grace” appropriate. For me it is a step off. Possibly one can find acts of grace in the Grimm canon, but the brothers liked to slip a little morality into their presentation of the tales. Reading the recently translated works of Schönwerth (German) and Kristensen (Danish), who transcribed what they heard without edit, the hand of God is largely absent and random acts of serendipity prevalent. For me, it’s the word “serendipity” that describes the undeserved benefit.

But modhukori disagreed:

Of course Fairy Tales are filled with the grace factor, … as is life. Proving once again to me that fairy tales point to the magic of life :) and the hero or heroine, then proves him/herself worthy of the grace and there is the happy ending at the end of the grace filled struggle.

Flossie Squashblossom was quick with a rebuttal:

Grace isn’t there simply because it is a fairy tale. Grace may visit a fairy tale. But so might violence — dished out randomly and fatally on somebody who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I’m thinking of those young women murdered by Mr. Fox. They were guilty of nothing but cluelessness; and as far as I know, they stayed dead. Was it Grace or Good Timing that sent the heroine into the forest where she discovered the truth?

Sagacia leaned over and whispered to Simplia, “I think that’s what Charles Kiernan means when he speaks of serendipity.”

Mary Grace Ketner posed the question:

Does “grace” require the hand of God? I don’t think of it that way, but perhaps that is the real question.

Simplia couldn’t hold it in any longer. “The hand of God was nowhere evident in the story about Godfather Death. Neither God nor the Devil would do for a godparent for the hero; Death was chosen because Death visits everyone, regardless of who they are. When his godson defied him, Death gave him a do-over. You could call that an act of Grace. But when his godson defied Death a second time, Death showed no mercy.”

Sagacia asked, “So would you call that Logical Consequences or Tough Love?”

Simplia had to ponder for a moment before she said, “Yeah.”

“Okay,” said Sagacia. “I agree with your premise about Grace running neck and neck with Tough Love and Natural Consequences. Think about this, though — Would we still be interested in these stories if Grace were totally absent? Isn’t one of the reasons they still resonate with us is because there are abundant instances of Grace — undeserved good fortune — and without that possibility, where would Hope roost? If fairy tales reflected life as it is, I don’t think I’d be such a fan. But since so many fairy tale heroes do prevail, against overwhelming odds, in my eyes Adversity has silver linings — Adventure and Opportunity.”

Simplia nodded and told her friend, “You know, if I had gone to State College like you did, I might have been able to come up with that. As it is, I sort of, kind of think I understand what you mean. I sure could use some examples, though. You got any floating around that educated brain of yours?”

Sagacia gave her a good natured elbow-poke and said, “Oh hush. Let’s see if our Magical Friends can come up with any.”