Last May and June I did a series on fantasy and a Christian worldview on my personal blog. Today’s post comes from that series. I apologize to those of you who read it before, pleading for your indulgence. I am speaking today and unfortunately do not have the time (or mental energy) to do a new post justice. So without further comment, a slightly edited version Fantasy and a Christian Worldview, Part 8.
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I did a little online research and learned that the Narnia books have sold anywhere from 85-95 million copies worldwide.
In addition, 11 million DVDs have been sold since right before Easter. That compares to 10 million DVDs of the latest Harry Potter movie.
Speaking of Harry Potter, as of Oct. 2005 those books had sold 300 million copies worldwide. According to Wikipedia the online encyclopedia:
Over nearly a decade the books have garnered fans of all ages, leading to two editions of each Harry Potter book being released, identical in text but with one edition’s cover artwork aimed at children and the other edition’s aimed at adults. The world wide success of Harry Potter including sales from the books, as well as royalties from the films and merchandise, has made Rowling a billionaire and by some reports richer than Queen Elizabeth II.
Why my sudden fixation with numbers? Because sales—how people actually spend their money—translate into what people really like and, from my perspective, what they want to see more of.
Speculative stories are popular, and as the quote above indicates, this interest is not exclusive to children. Consider the top grossing movies of all time. Nine of the top ten are either science fiction or have sci fi/fantasy elements. Only one of those films, Shrek 2, could be considered a children’s movie primarily (and even then the humor is targeted mostly to adults).
1 – Titanic ($1,845,034,188)
2 – The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King($1,118,888,979)
3 – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone [Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in the U.S.] ($976,475,550)
4 – The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers ($926,287,400)
5 – Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace ($924,317,558)
6 – Shrek 2 ($920,665,658)
7 – Jurassic Park ($914,691,118)
8 – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire ($891,719,985)
9 – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets ($876,688,482)
10 – The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
The next ten is similar. In fact all ten belong in the spec fic category. And the next ten? All but two.
The love of fantasy, the fascination with imaginative places or extraordinary creatures, is a part of our culture.
And here’s the point. If Christians do not enter into this arena in a meaningful way, non-Christians will have the say-so regarding the focal point of fantasy—the good/evil conflict. Non-Christians will define the terms and ultimately determine the winners.
Take one example—The Lion King. A harmless little animated children’s film, right? Here’s what a writer at soyouwanna.com said:
It’s not only animated, it’s also pretentious! Yes, the “circle of life,” a sort of kiddified Social Darwinism, comes across as “philosophy lite.”
I’d also mention the heavy New Age themes and a few more problematic issues. But what should we expect from writers and film makers who do not believe in the God of the Bible?
So why should Christians care about fantasy? Because the rest of our culture does. Because fantasy has great capacity for good but also great capacity for evil.
It depends on who wields it.