My husband and I love words, and I love learning new words. Somebody once said use a word three times in a sentence, and you’ve made it yours. So today I’ve learned a new word, and I’ll teach it to you. I came across it in the biography of C.S. Lewis I recently reviewed, Not a Tame Lion.
Eucastastrophe-a sudden turn of events at the end of a story which ensures that the main character does not meet some terrible, impending, and probable doom.
The word was first coined by the writer, J. R. R. Tolkien (a friend of C.S. Lewis) who affixed the Greek prefix eu, which means good, to catastrophe. It referred to the “unraveling” of a drama’s plot in an unexpectedly favorable way. (Note to English majors: this is similar to ‘deus ex machina” but has subtle differences I won’t go into here).
For example, someone might experience the “catastrophe” of losing his or her job, only to find that it forced them to consider a new career which was ultimately more fulfilling. Thus, their catastrophe became a euchastrophe!
Of course, in case you haven’t already deduced the point of my post, the gospel story, as recounted in the Scriptures is the ultimate euchastastrophe. Tolkien described it this way:
“The Birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of man’s history. The Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation. This story begins and ends with joy … such joy has the very taste of primary truth.”
So consider this: in the long run, all our catastrophes are eucatastrophes. Because of our faith, we know that whatever suffering and tribulation happen along the way, our end, our homecoming is secure.
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.’” Rev. 12:3-4