By Gary Macy
Space travel has greatly
stimulated modern imaginations, raising all sorts of interesting new questions.
One of the most fascinating for Christians must certainly be the possibility of
intelligent life on other planets. How would these beings relate to
Christianity and how could Christianity account for their relationship to God?
One medieval writer, amazingly, has already addressed the issue.
Writing in the 12th century, Marie de France produced some
beautiful stories called lais to be recited to the courts of France. In
one of the stories titled Yonec, Marie relates how a beautiful
young woman was forced to marry an ugly old man who locked her away in a tower
out of jealousy. One day, a large and stately hawk flew to the only open window
in the ladys tower cage. The hawk jumped to the floor and turned into a
handsome prince. Astonished, the lady realized that the prince was a shape
shifter from the land of Fairy and not human at all.
To reassure the lady that he was not a devil, the fairy
prince recited the creed. To further dispel her doubts, he agreed to take
Communion by the ruse of again changing shapes, this time into the fair form of
the lady herself. The real maiden called for the elderly lady who watched over
her, begging her to send a priest to give her Communion. The lady hid herself
when the caretaker arrived accompanied by a priest who dutifully offered the
sacrament to the disguised fairy prince. Marie continues, Then the
chaplain left and the old lady closed the door. The lady lay beside her love --
there was never a more beautiful couple.
Well, best draw the curtain there. At least for Marie, there
was no problem with intelligent life other than human life. Such creatures
could be good Christians (and really good looking, too).
Gary Macy is a theology professor at the University of