Synopsis (from Goodreads): Once upon a time there was a tiny kingdom called Cornucopia, as rich in happiness as it was in gold, and famous for its food. From the delicate cream cheeses of Kurdsburg to the Hopes-of-Heaven pastries of Chouxville, each was so delicious that people wept with joy as they ate them. But even in this happy kingdom, a monster lurks. Legend tells of a fearsome creature living far to the north in the Marshlands… the Ickabog. Some say it breathes fire, spits poison, and roars through the mist as it carries off wayward sheep and children alike. Some say it’s just a myth… And when that myth takes on a life of its own, casting a shadow over the kingdom, two children — best friends Bert and Daisy — embark on a great adventure to untangle the truth and find out where the real monster lies, bringing hope and happiness to Cornucopia once more.
Discussion: J.K. Rowling wrote this book years ago for her own children and never intended it to be published. In 2020, when children were quarantined from school due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she decided to post it online to give children something to do while out of school. It eventually was published into a book. The main plot is about a government that instills deep fear of the monster, Ickabog, into the citizens. Due to this fear, the citizens are willing to give up freedoms to ensure their safety. The government also censures (by imprisonment or death) anyone who questions the government’s handling of Ickabog or even questions the legitimacy of the fear they should have towards the Ickabog. I found a little irony that this book was published in 2020. This was a year where governments attempted to control the masses by instilling fear about a virus.
Both governments had a sliver of truth. In the book, there are some circumstances where the Ickabog would be deadly and harmful. As with, COVID-19 some demographics should drastically change their lives to avoid contracting the virus. However, in either should the fear be on a mass scale.
In The Ickabog, four children started to question the government’s narrative as they began to see contradictions. They set off to discover the truth, and when they found it, they were able to spread this truth to the whole kingdom, and the truth set them free (Jn 8:32).
What is truth?
It can be hard to understand the difference between subjective truth and objective truth in a society full of relativism. Or even understand that objective truth exists. If you don’t understand the difference between these two, Father Mike Schmitz has a great talk on this topic:
The search for truth:
The four leading children in The Ickabog book didn’t just accept what they were being told; they went out in search of the truth.
I am raising my children in the Catholic Church. I have to admit there is a part of me that does not want them to question the Catholic Church and just accept it as the truth. Mainly because I am both lazy and fearful. If my children question the faith, I have to know the answer and charitably convey the answer. I am lacking in both.
I also have to admit, relativism is enticing. I do fear my children succumbing to this concept. I must hold to the most common phrase in the bible, which is some rendition of “Fear not.” They are required to search for the truth on their own.
It is every single person’s moral obligation to search for the truth:
“All men are bound to seek the truth, especially in what concerns God . . . and to embrace it and hold on to it as they come to know it. This duty derives from the very dignity of the human person” (CCC 2104).
I need not fear because if my children search for truth with an open heart and mind, they will find Jesus, who is the “way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6). This is because “[God] wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4).
I encourage all to seek the truth because it is instilled in our souls. “The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for” (CCC 27).
Seeking truth and following the truth (which is Jesus) will save you. “Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved” (CCC 1260).
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth.John 17:17-19