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Mission Report, April 11–13, Lorehaven at Teach Them Diligently in Waco

Again our belief is proven true: many new fans for excellent Christian-made fantastical novels are out there.
| Apr 16, 2019 | 9 comments | Series:

Team Lorehaven has returned from the Teach Them Diligently homeschooling conference in Waco, Texas last weekend.

Our booth featured writer Marian Jacobs, creative relations Lacy Rhiannon (my wife), and myself (publisher/editor).

We met dozens of families. Usually we asked them, “Hi! Do you all like to read?”

Most people said, “Oh yes.” A few said, “Yes, but don’t have as much time as I’d like.”

I’d say perhaps 70 percent said something like, “Yes, but my children are reading like crazy. And far above their reading level. I can’t keep up!”

Then we shared our mission: Lorehaven finds truth in fantastic stories.

  • Free to subscribe online.
  • You get magazines each season.
  • Print copies are sold at special events.
  • Each issue has 12+ reviews of new Christian fantasy.
  • Also: articles from trusted voices about biblical fiction discernment.
  • We give away free resources, such as bookmarks with tips to discern and explore stories.

Some parents politely nodded or said merely, “Thank you,” before moving on.

But for each one of these less-interested folks, three other parents or students immediately got our mission.

We shared favorite stories. We asked parents what their kids love to read.

And we kept hearing people say things like, “I’m so glad you guys are doing this. There’s such a need!”

Frankly, this encouraged my heart all over again. Until you get out there, and talk to real people, you never really know if this whole “Christians asking one another for good Christian-made fantastical stories” thing is just a strung-out internet fad.1

But yes. Again our belief is proven true: many new fans for excellent Christian-made fantastical novels are out there.

They’re chasing biblical truth. They’re seriously investing in their children’s learning. And they’re training their children to read–not just to read the Bible, or biographies, or textbooks, but to read imaginative fantastical novels.2

We talked to so many people that I couldn’t take specific notes. And yet . . .

Fantastic Christian fans to remember

  • The woman with three children (seen here). They absolutely loved our fantasy creatures, and eagerly drew amazing, imaginative pictures.
  • A young woman (age 20, I believe) who’d grown up loving fantasy novels. Including Harry Potter. We signed her up for a subscription under the pseudonym “Mermaid Queen.” (Yes, you can also subscribe for free with a fictional name! We won’t judge you.)
  • The woman who strode up to the booth and almost immediately said, “Oh yes! You’re Lorehaven. Your magazine reviews Christian fantasy and sci-fi novels.” She’d met us first with Realm Makers Bookstore in Fort Worth, the previous month. She hadn’t signed up then, but she did this time.
  • A man I’ll call “D&D Dad” who asked if I’d ever played the RPG. Thanks to that one late-night introduction at my wife’s family’s house last Thanksgiving, I could tell him yes! We had such a great conversation. Later he prayed for my wife’s and my own future foster-parenting.
  • So many Lord of the Rings fans, and fluent in the finer points of Middle-earth’s origin and mythology.
  • The young couple who really geeked out. And showed us photos they’d taken of a huge Greatest Showman–themed homeschool prom in Dallas, where they’d taken photos.
  • The mother of six children, including two teens, most of whom love fantasy.
  • Another mother of several fantasy-fan daughters! Their oldest girl signed up. Her pseudonym: “Magical Unicorn.”
  • For balance: The other large-family mother who passed by and kindly replied, “Yes, we like to read. But based on the way you’re dressed, probably not what you’re offering.” (Ha ha! Well, it’s only a matter of time. Fantastical stories will eventually appeal to the heart of at least one of your children. Then the only question is: will you be prepared?)
  • And, finally, the mother who’d stopped by earlier but dashed up just as we were packing up the booth. She subscribed! And got a free bookmark.

Next stops: Cincinnati and Realm Makers 2019

As we grow the magazine, and possibly add new items such as books, we’ll be able to visit more locations.

Later this month, I’ll represent Lorehaven at Great Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati. I’ll be there from Friday to Saturday, April 26–27, rejoining our friends with the Realm Makers Bookstore. (The event actually begins Thursday, April 25.) We’re featuring great books, all by Christian authors, in fantasy, sci-fi, and other fantastical genres.

In July, we’ll feature Lorehaven again at the annual Realm Makers conference, returning to St. Louis July 18–20.

Please pray for us. This remains a big step. And it’s a big investment of time and resources for many of Speculative Faith’s creatives.

Of course, if you’re an author or publisher wanting to share your story with new fans, advertise with us.3

Either way, know and rejoice: In an age of closing bookstores and creative skeptics, Christian fantasy’s best days are happily ahead.

Further up and further in!

Stephen

  1. Or if this is just a theory that everyone who wants to be a Writer talks about, in the hopes that their story (alone?) will hit it big and Save Us All.
  2. You skeptics out there (you know who you are): let’s stop even gently making fun of Christian homeschoolers. They’re not backward. In fact, we are, if we insist on fun-house-mirroring all of them in the image of memories from decades ago. Just as Christian fantasy (yes, even with the Christian label) is not just cheap allegories designed to call the reader toward an unseen altar, so homeschoolers are not just legalistic neo-cultists raising their boys for the farm and their girls for the boys.
  3. As a free online magazine, Lorehaven is entirely advertiser-supported. You can advertise in print (and also on the magazine’s online version). You can also choose to feature ads on non-subscriber sections of the website, such as these very Speculative Faith articles.
E. Stephen Burnett explores biblical truth and fantastic stories as editor in chief of Lorehaven Magazine and writer at Speculative Faith. He has also written for Christianity Today and Christ and Pop Culture. He and his wife, Lacy, live in the Austin area and serve as members of Southern Hills Baptist Church.

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notleia
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notleia

Off topic, because of course I am:
Being the childless harridan that I am, I guess I will never understand what drives some people to have bunches of kids. I mean, I like babies — other people’s babies who go away before too long. They’re basically smol, cute animals.
But toddlers are cripplingly dysfunctional proto-people. For several years they’re basically tiny drunks who can’t/won’t regulate their volume and emotions and impulses and probably their bladders.

Autumn Grayson
Guest

I prefer toddlers over infants. Infants are even more fragile, and toddlers are at least kind of getting to the point where one can talk to them and teach them more.

Brennan S. McPherson
Member

2-year olds regulate their own emotions all the time. They just have less self-awareness and haven’t been indoctrinated with social norms yet, so they don’t understand what not to do or when (or why). I greatly disliked babies until I had my own. Now I love babies. And my 2 and a half year old daughter gives me more joy and excitement than anything else under the sun. The processes of pregnancy, birth, and childcare change you profoundly. That change isn’t relegated only to females. There’s hormonal changes that men go through during pregnancy, as well, especially men who are deeply involved with child care and are very close emotionally and physically to their spouse and child. All in all, it teaches you that being a selfish jerk isn’t a great or even enjoyable way to live your life. Because everything you dislike about babies, you suddenly see reflected in your own behavior. Only in more socially acceptable ways. So be careful how you criticize. . . they’re not proto-people. They’re full people.

notleia
Guest
notleia

But you only have one, right? You aren’t trying to manage a herd of tiny drunks.

And I’d like to push back against the notion that childless people are selfish jerks. Like, maybe you were when you were childless, I don’t know you that well, but I am pretty good at delayed gratification and taking another’s needs into consideration. When Oldcat was deteriorating from her thyroid issue and wanting to be fed every couple of hours, I did, in fact, get up for nightly feeds when she went mrrf in my face at 2 in the morning.

Heck, even now I have to delay my internetly gratification when Hauspanzer wants to cuddle and poke my face with her claws when I’m not petting her enough to suit her. (I should really teach her a better method to get my attention, but she knows that one works.) But I can leave Hauspanzer and Potato home alone without CPS getting on my case. Cats and houseplants are the sort of dependents I have the resources to support.

Brennan S. McPherson
Member

I wasn’t so much saying every childless person is selfish as I was saying that having a child shows you just how much more selfish you are than you think you are. If you had a child, you’d see what I mean, but you probably won’t believe me until that happens. I didn’t believe anyone that told me before I had a baby (at least not just how true it was). Every parent I’ve ever talked to says the same thing. It’s basically a law of the universe. And yeah, I only have one, and previously two cats (one passed away tragically). It takes an enormous amount of effort. Having a bunch is still very difficult to imagine, but I’ve learned to try not to say, “Never.” Life has a way of taking unexpected turns, and we’re always in a state of constant change. I wonder a lot about, “How could I feel I’m giving several kids as much of my heart as just this one?” I don’t know how it works. But apparently it does. It really is a mysterious thing. . . I was sure I wouldn’t like kids ever. And was actually afraid I wouldn’t like my own baby. Not that I wouldn’t care for her, but that I wouldn’t LIKE her. I was proved 100% wrong the moment I saw her. Anyways, childbearing is hard on the mother, and my wife had a rough pregnancy with nausea and bad post-partum anxiety, so I have zero desire to try to pressure her for another child. I never pressured her for one to begin with (it was only something we mutually agreed upon). But I can say that having Willow has infinitely enriched my life. Having a child puts an exclamation mark on everything in life. The highs are higher, the lows are lower. It’s all more than worth it in the end.

notleia
Guest
notleia

I’m going to assume that’s the hormones talking. 😛

But yeah, my mom said it’s different with your own kids, but BEING one of those kids….I have mixed feelings about that.

But I’m not gonna have kids just because the culture pressures me to have some. Heck, I moved cross country to get away from the Southern rural notion that people are somehow not adults if they don’t have a kid by their mid-twenties (made worse by the higher teenage pregnancy rate). Like, stop trying to sell me a tent when that is not my circus and those are not my monkeys.

Leanna
Guest
Leanna

Just want to agree wholeheartedly with both here. Parenthood is likely the most dramatic means of showing you when you are selfish and teaching you to put someone else first.

Also, we definitely need people in the world who do not have babies because parenthood takes tremendous attention and time and childless adults will get more done. 😉 (And it takes a community to raise a child)

Also also, you do you, notleia. This internet stranger thinks you’re pretty awesome. *thumbs up*

Amanda Pizzolatto
Guest

You are absolutely right, we definitely need more single people in the world. We definitely need to make it socially acceptable not to get married. It’s a constant battle, though. Many of the saints who became nuns and priests dealt with that exact same mentality from their own families.

Brennan S. McPherson
Member

Yeah, I get annoyed with the constant, “SO WHEN ARE YOU HAVING FIVE MORE?” questions. I think a lot of people just get excited and aren’t self-aware enough to realize they’re wrongfully pressuring, or that different people live different lives. Kindof like you criticizing people with lots of kids… both lifestyles are fine.