Fiddling with Fantasy while Rome Burns?

The world’s on fire, and you’re writing fantasy?

Mobs have trashed London, and you’re writing about a couple of kids trying to climb a mountain to ring a legendary bell. We’ve got a Marxist in the White House, and you’re writing about imaginary kings of an imaginary country.

What good does that do?

These are questions that I sometimes ask myself. I suspect every fantasy writer since L. Frank Baum has done the same. (For the video-game generation, Baum’s the guy who wrote The Wizard of Oz. “The what?” Oh, never mind…)

In fairness, fantasy is not the only thing I write. I tackle the old burning issues all the time. But to this day I’m not sure of having changed one person’s mind with any of my columns. No one has ever written in to say, “Oh, now I see! Gee, I was totally wrong to be a socialist/atheist/Darwinist nudnick–thank you so much for setting me straight.” Nope, I’m afraid that doesn’t happen.

I carry on with my commentaries because I believe it’s my duty. If I can’t change anyone’s mind, maybe I can at least encourage readers who agree with me. But for some time now I’ve been thinking that maybe the fantasy novels are the most important writing that I do.

The inspiration for this thought is from the Bible–from I Corinthians.

“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not…” (I Cor. 1:27-28)

The evils of this age are mighty, and imposed on us by supposedly the smartest people in the world, and the most swollen by pride. What, after the preaching of the Gospel itself, could be more foolish than a fantasy? What could be weaker? And all the things I write about in these books “are not.”

I Cor. Chapter 3: “I [Paul] have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one… For we are laborers together with God…” (vv. 6-9)

Each of us has to plant the seed God gives him; and we water one another’s plantings. How they grow, and what kind of crop they yield, is up to God, not us.

There’s no way I can know what fruit my books will bear. God has called me to write them: that’s all I know about it. The fruit might take 100 years to ripen. I hope not! But it’s not my call to make.

7 comments on “Fiddling with Fantasy while Rome Burns?

  1. I love how you included the scriptures here, thank you! This post had me thinking. Imagine if every writer everywhere only wrote about the tragedies that our world faces, having no room for fiction whatsoever. How much darker would it be? Every single human needs a form of escapism and reading books that don’t have anything to do with tornadoes killing or tsunamis drowning or serial killers murdering helps keep us balanced–it’s entertainment. What do you think?

    Can Alex save Winter from the darkness that hunts her?
    YA Paranormal Romance, Darkspell coming fall of 2011!

    1. Every single human needs a form of escapism and reading books that don’t have anything to do with tornadoes killing or tsunamis drowning or serial killers murdering *using real events and people* helps keep us balanced–it’s entertainment

      (I had to add that because there are those elements in fantasy, but I meant it as a reference to our real world.)

    2. Hi, Elizabeth. You know, I can’t deny that escapism is among the motivations of my work. It goes as much for the fantasy writer as for the reader, and no one needs to apologize for it. We’ve got a lot to escape from!
      But in my fantasies, there are other things I’m trying to do. I want to depict a world in which religion–even a flawed and corrupted institutional religion–is a natural and even indispensable part of life. In my essays, I call this “re-normalizing religion.” In most fiction written today, there isn’t even a trace of religion in any of the characters’ lives–except, of course, in those stories in which Christians are depicted as bigots and fools.
      More than that, I try, in my books, to open the reader’s mind to the Living God who is revealed to us in the Bible. By doing that in a fantasy format, the writer can sidestep the reader’s prejudices.
      Have I succeeded? Probably that’s not for me to know. Again, I can only plant the seed I’m given.

    1. Michael, I thank you–truly a wonderful way to start my day. Oddly enough, today I have also published “Introducing My Books” on . Wish me luck! Better yet, send up a prayer for me.

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