Every year, after fall has started its swing, the leaves have begun to turn, and the students at the nearby college have begun to settle into their semesterly routine, the town of Purcellville holds an annual, town-wide tag sale. Part of this yearly tradition involves a massive deployment of wide-eyed college students to the library, ready to snag relics of Western Civilization for a fraction of their cost. For a mere fee of 50 cents to a dollar (assuming, of course, you get there before your professor's wife does), you can stand with the Greek heroes on the battlefield of Troy, marvel at the night sky through the eyes of the medievals, descend with Dante through the fiery depths of hell, only to pass through the purgatorial fires to the heights of the celestial spheres.
I love books. There's something about cracking open the aged spine of Thomas a Kempis' The Imitation of Christ, immersing yourself in the courtesy and high chivalry of Chretien de Troyes Arthurian Romances, or being reminded of every single, wealthy man's universal need for a wife in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.
I think part of the reason I like books is because they continue to ring true. Nothing makes me to throw down the gauntlet like a person who declares that, say, The Lord of the Rings isn't real. That's not to say that the events of the narrative actually occurred, or that Aragorn himself strode across the plains of this world to reclaim his rightful place as king of men. But when Tolkien breaks down and re-assembles various pieces of human nature (he would call it “sub-creating”), we see truths that are transcendent and absolute brought into sharp relief as they endure across every realm of possibility.
By taking human nature, picking it apart, and putting back together in fantastic and otherworldy realms, we clear away the mundane familiarities of this world so that we can clearly see the bravery, the integrity, the cowardice, and the deception of our heroes and villains. We see the vices of human nature magnified in goblins, sorcerers and tyrants, we see courage strained to the uttermost as our knight slays his dragon, we see the simple comforts of life enjoyed by a score of hobbits at a long-expected party.
But however much the sub-creator might invent new races, lands, weapons and artifacts, he remains governed by a universal moral law that endures across all human experience. He can never rise above that moral law and impose his own standard of morality, because when he does so, he's driving against the grain of the law of God written upon the hearts of man.