Fantasy has always been my genre. At the age of 5 or 6, I fell in love with the legend of St. George and the dragon. From then on I was hooked. I enjoy all things fantasy with a lot of science fiction thrown in for good measure.
For years fantasy has been gaining respect and popularity as a genre. At first I was amused and pleased by this trend. However, as the trend has continued I have grown more concerned.
See, I have grown up. I still love fantasy, but I know now that fantasy is not all there is. Beyond that, I have begun to recognize the dangers of fantasy as a genre – especially the dangers of long-term exposure. It disturbs me to see it become mainstream to indulge the escapist tendencies associated with the consumption of fantasy. As I am in the midst of growing out of it, I see more and more people succumbing to the draw of virtual reality.
Even more disturbing is the number of Christians who have jumped onboard the fantasy fan-wagon – blissfully unaware of the dangers. Christians have found all kinds of ingenious ways to justify their new-found fantasy obsession. They appeal to the likes of J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis as paragons of Christian fantasy authors. They have even developed a Christian theology/philosophy of fiction and fantasy.
In the following blog posts I attempt to challenge some of this mainstream Christian thinking. No, I am not a published fiction author. No, I am not a professor of literature. I am a pastor and student of the Bible who can speak from the depth of personal experience and from years of personal reflection on the ethics and meaning of the fantasy genre.
I deal mostly with the ideas of Tolkien and a smattering of Lewis. I have not gone into great depth, but I have tried to suggest numerous avenues of further thought. I focus mostly on the medium of the fantasy novel, but this is purely for the convenience of writing. Most of what I say applies to television, movies, graphic novels, video games, etc. Furthermore, a lot of what I say applies to science fiction and even to fiction in general.
The most common negative reaction I anticipate receiving is that I am taking everything too seriously. It’s just fantasy. It’s just fiction. I hope the inescapable seriousness of fantasy will become clear through what I have written, but in case it is not clear, let me point out that Christians love to speak from both sides of their mouths when it comes to the subject of fantasy. They try to justify and value it by exploring the meaningful themes of many works of fantasy. At the same time, they try to excuse the problems of fantasy by claiming it is just for fun. I am mostly engaging with the one side that tries to justify fantasy, but I think it will become apparent that there are also dangers in trying to enjoy fantasy just for fun.
Before jumping to counter my ideas, my suggestion is to read all of my posts. Lastly, I want to remind you that I love fantasy. What follows are not the ruminations of a fantasy-hater. All of it has come from one who has spent decades living in fantasy worlds.