Reading Fare for Teens – Christians vs. Witchcraft, Dystopian Death Games, & Vampires

Stories about girls vomiting themselves to death and dystopian death games entertain the youth of the present day. Kevin Swanson takes a brief journey into popular teen reading fare, and discusses a Christian view of fiction with Christian author, Lee Duigon.

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Turkeys on Parade

No, folks, this is not about U.S. Senators–I mean real turkeys. Wild turkeys! Five of ’em–a tom (almost as big as a person) and four females–parading down the sidewalk on the main street of my home town, in the heart of suburban New Jersey: and then they crossed the street to visit the nativity scene at St. Francis Church. These are wilderness creatures, and this town is not the wilderness. It could hardly have been much more unlikely to see a herd of wildebeest.

What does this mean? Beats me. It was the kind of thing that happens in Bell Mountain. I have no idea what will come next… but I have a feeling it’ll be wonderful.

Thunder King Review by Rev. Stephen R. Wilson

Originality – 4/5
Writing Style – 5/5
Plot – 4/5
Characters – 5/5
Aesthetics – 4/5
The dog Cavall and First Prester Reesh steal the show.
I’ve been a big fan of the Bell Mountain series since reading the first volume. In book 3, the Boy King’s formerly-Heathen army continues to grow in their faith in the One God under the tutelage of the Old Prophet. But is the Boy ready to be King?
As the action and characters in this novel shows, God more often than not calls us to do things that are much bigger than ourselves, and hardly ever reveals how He’s going to help us accomplish them.

And Here’s an Even Worse Book

I’ve found one that’s miles worse than Misfit. This abomination is Blue Moon by Alyson Noel. This one, too, is pitched to teenage girls.

You may well ask what I’m doing, reading these. I’ve been invited onto a radio show to discuss teen-lit and its predilection for witchcraft, New Age, the occult, etc. So I picked these two books at random off the library shelf, just to prepare for the discussion.

What are these authors and publishers trying to do to their readers? OK, they’re trying to enrich themselves; but there are more honorable ways of doing that, such as selling used cars or operating a roulette wheel.

A Really Stinky Book!

I have found a book that is almost indescribably bad: Misfit, by Jon Skovron. I’ve only revealed the title and the author so that you will know to avoid it.

Had the author’s only crime been to use every known cliche except “My wife doesn’t understand me,” I wouldn’t be writing this. No. By “bad” I mean intolerable; toxic; spiritually polluting; intellectually stultifying; reprehensible; unfit for human consumption. Worst of all, its target audience is teenage girls. Apparently this is what passes for teen literature, these days–which is a sad commentary on our times, as Caligula might say. I suppose Caligula might have written a book like this, had he been a teen lit author instead of a depraved Roman emperor who thought he was a god. But he’d be very hard put to come up with something worse.

If Mr. Skovron were here, I would ask him the following questions:

BOOK GUIDE: “The Thunder King” @ Movie Guide

Third in Bell Mountain series takes readers to the brink of apocalypse

By Robert Knight

In tough times, it’s difficult enough to convey hope without sounding like Pollyanna, the ridiculously upbeat heroine of the Disney movie of the same name.

But, how about offering real hope while the world is coming apart at the seams, evil is on the march, and prophets are predicting doom?

It’s all there in The Thunder King, Lee Duigon’s third installment of the Bell Mountain series, a fantasy of epic proportions set in a medieval world that arose on the ashes of a sophisticated civilization.

Duigon, who wields one of the sharpest and funniest pens as a cultural/political columnist, keeps the action crisp, the characters believable, and the reader guessing where it will all end.
Read More”

Fantasy Disguised as Politics

Sorry to bring up politics again. But when utter, unadulterated fantasy is repackaged as a political program that people are urged to vote for–and actually do!–it mightily cheeses me off.

This particular fantasy raises anguished howls of protest over “income inequality”–as if there were ever such a thing in the real world, or ever could be, as “income equality.” The message is that if we elect a bunch of really cool Democrats, they’ll get rid of all that inequality and transform America into the land of equal incomes.

Does this mean that a gang of crooks and schnooks in Washington will wave a magic wand, and you and I will suddenly be blessed with incomes equal to Nancy Pelosi’s, or Al Gore’s? I mean, what is this–the Arabian Nights?

The only place in the real world where there is income equality is the cemetery.

I’ve Saved a Squirrel, But Who’ll Save Us?

I saved a squirrel’s life today.

He was trapped inside my neighbor’s garbage can, and I could hear his panicked efforts to escape. The lid was on, you see. He gnawed a hole in it and slipped inside to grab something that didn’t belong to him, and now he couldn’t climb back out. I saw the little nose protruding from the hole, so I took off the lid and set him free.

The point is… who’s going to set us free?

Moved by greed and the lure of easy pickings, the nations of the West, which used to be Christendom, have blundered into the deepest trashcan of them all–atheistic, oligarchic socialism.

For the last 150 years, self-anointed experts–administrators, scientists, educators, politicians–have promised us an earthly paradise, if only we let them run the show. They have ravaged our national economies, shattered our faith, ceaselessly pared away our liberties, trained our young in unbelief and envy, encouraged every kind of fornication, and managed to murder at least 100 million of their own countrymen in their pursuit of “scientific socialism.”

They did all this with our consent, by promising us a fair share of our neighbors’ goods and persuading us there’s no such thing as “sin.”

Well, there is, and we’re suffocating in it.

Don’t ask Jesus to pry the lid off for us. He’s already showed us how. The instructions are to be found in the Bible. This trap we’re in is of our own imagining, a prison of the mind and of the soul.

Follow the Cross. That’s the way out.

How to Set Up Your Fantasy

How do you get your reader into the fantasy world you’ve created? Here are some of the methods that have worked for various writers.

Don’t bother with a fantasy world: set all your action in Southern California. This is the method of choice for cheaply produced movies. Bring He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, or the Predator, some other set of fantastic characters, to L.A. It saves on production costs, and saves writers the trouble of being creative. Please don’t even think about using this method.

One exception–Ellen C. Maze’s vampire novels (if you want to count them as fantasy instead of horror). She makes it work.

Make subtle adjustments to our world to turn it into a fantasy world. I’m not a Harry Potter fan, but J.K. Rowling deserves a big hat-tip for coming up with this technique. It remains to be seen whether anyone else can pull it off.

Transport protagonists from our world into the fantasy world. No one ever did this better than C.S. Lewis in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. This would appear to be the easiest way to present a fantasy, but don’t get the idea that it’s easy to do it well. But it is very easy to do it badly.

Treat the fantasy world as if it were the only world. This is the approach most commonly used–Tolkien, Fritz Leiber, Harry Turtledove, and (blush!) I, just to name a few of many. How to do it is the tricky part.

I think it’s best to start the reader off with people and places that will seem familiar, or at least easy to adjust to, and introduce him gradually to people and places that are increasingly fantastic. This is why The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings start with Hobbits in the Shire. Although Hobbits are the product of Tolkien’s imagination, they are very much like us, inwardly; and as the story progresses, and they move out from the safe, comfortable Shire, they respond as we would to the more exotic regions of Middle-Earth: with wonder, joy, awe, and terror. He makes it so easy for us to identify with Hobbits, he doesn’t need to start the story somewhere in our own world.

Always assume your reader can’t help being skeptical. You’re asking him to believe in something he knows to be fantastic: and in this you have to give him all the help you can.

Remember ‘The Rockford Files’?

It was my wife’s birthday this week, and I gave her a DVD–Season #5, 22 episodes of The Rockford Files.

We don’t have television anymore. My friends who have cable or satellite all say, “We get 150 channels and there’s nothing to watch.” I only see TV, these days, when I have to go to the doctor. Last time I was there, I saw a special on Kim Kardashian and her ridiculous marriage, and part of a soap opera. The guy who called television “a vast wasteland” was being much too kind. It’s much more like what you’d expect to see if they had brothels in Mordor.

Patty and I were Rockford fans way back, when the show was actually on TV. We hadn’t seen it since. So we popped the disc into the DVD player, and…

Wow!

Blow me down! A plot, of all things. A clever and creative story. Characters! Played by professional actors. Crisp, sparkling dialogue, with unexpected twists that made us laugh. Do you mean to say that TV was once like this? And it was free? You just turned it on, and there it was?

Those old Rockford Files episodes, all cranked out for just one season, were better than nine out of 10 first-run movies today. I don’t even know what’s on TV anymore, other than soap operas written by dirty-minded 12-year-olds and performed by Seconal addicts, and reality shows featuring poor schlubs whose only talent is to make the audience feel superior, and sleazy, leering screenplays about teenagers coughing up their virginity. The crimes solved by Jim Rockford seem virtuous by comparison.

I wonder what else was on, 35 years ago, that was a thousand times better than the best we have today.

How did our popular culture go so bad, so fast?