We have talked about taking ordinary fiction and tacking some “Christian stuff” onto it to make it “Christian fiction.” And we have talked about fantasy as a special kind of story-telling that gets under your skin, if it’s done well. But what about “Christian fantasy”? Can we take fantasy’s special qualities and put them to work for Christ’s Kingdom?
Well, of course we can, But how? Here are a few ways not to do it.
Write it as if it were a perfectly ordinary fantasy story, like everybody else’s, only plug in a few scenes of characters praying or going to church.
You want to know why that doesn’t work? Because even an unbeliever can pray or go to church. Christianity that is only on the outside isn’t Christianity at all.
Have God give the good guys better magic than the bad guys have.
Remember what happened to Moses when he snapped at the children of Israel, “Must we fetch you water out of this rock?” God did all the miracles, but here was Moses taking credit for one of them.
I just read a book featuring a great big magical duel, and it left a bad taste in my mouth. “May the mightiest magician win!” is hardly a sentiment found anywhere in the Bible. What we do find in the Bible is God using weak and inconsequential things to confound the great and powerful. So Balaam is rebuked by his donkey, David slays Goliath, a lot of itty-bitty germs wipe out Sennacherib’s army, and the whole world is conquered not by armies, but by a baby in a manger.
Any attempt to write Christian fantasy must be anchored in the truths of the Bible, be they applied to this world or to an imaginary world, and must focus on the spirit of Christianity rather than any outward show of it–unless, of course, you’re writing about the vanity of outward show.
This being only a blog post, I’ll have to take up the subject again later on. And I’m curious to see what my readers have to say about it. Is there any Christian fantasy you’ve really liked–and why did you like it? Or is there any that you couldn’t stand–and what turned you off about it?