1. Pam Halter says:

    “Often this is done by giving God and Jesus alternate names in the story’s world. The most popular example is Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis.”

    I was encouraged to do the same thing in my fantasy novel by an editor from Scholastic because, well, it’s fantasy. And I’ve included characters and fairies that aren’t in the Bible. I’ve seen it done in other fantasy novels, as well. But Bryan Davis doesn’t do that in his Dragons in Our Midst books. He’s right up front.  He’s bold.  There’s no mistaking it. And I’m not put off by it at all.

    I think it comes down to this: what does your story require?

    • Bryan Davis’s books are set in the “real” world, that is, our Earth. Fantasy stories not set on Earth or set in some alternate reality just sound silly when they use the “real” names. Every culture has had it’s name for God; why should a fantasy culture be different?  While Lewis changed Jesus’ name and form for the Chronicles, he kept Father Christmas … something that almost brought him and Tolkien to blows, because Tollers believed that something as distinctly Earth should not be in a foreign world. Lewis went on to retcon that notion by having the first king and queen of Narnia be an English human couple, but that doesn’t necessarily explain the presence of all of his other Greek gods, etc. (Indeed, the connection is not made in the Narnia series, but in Perelandra, where Ransom muses that perhaps all of the things that are mythical in our world are actually inhabitants of other worlds.) The needs of the story dictate. I remember being really thrown by the name of Jesus in such stories as the Trophy Chase trilogy and the Annals of Lystra; it seemed jarring and Western rather than True, if that makes any sense.

  2. Very nice, balanced analysis. Engaging the world with a story that offers hope in this culture can have such an impact if we know how to talk about it through the lens of the kingdom. Talking about the positive aspects of a story garners so much more interaction than criticizing where we don’t find it perfectly “Christian.”

  3. Jill says:

    Cultural engagement is itself a myth (myth as in, a widely held belief that is false). Christians don’t operate outside culture, so engaging it or re-engaging it becomes an artificial exercise. Regarding the other definition of myth, that is what storytellers actually engage in. Storytellers are mythmakers to one extent or another. And, by the way, I love the myth about the mentor/teacher. I just wish there were people like that in the real world. No, I know there are for other people. But I want a mentor for ME. I’ve been waiting for so long that now I suppose I’m old enough to be one. Oh, well. 🙂

    • R. L. Copple says:

      True to an extent, Jill. I think what tends to happen is we live inside a Christian culture bubble, and the task is always how can Christians engage the more secular culture in a positive way. How to operate in it without being off it. Or do we hide in our safe Christian culture and not worry about engaging the secular? That’s what I’m driving at.

    • I both agree/disagree with Jill, as is my wont.

      Yes, many Christians must pop their own bubble and, at least for a time, practice “cultural engagement” with all the rest of their human neighbors. So for a time, at least, we must think of “cultural engagement” as something we’re not accustomed to doing.

      But no, “cultural engagement” is not ordinarily some separate activity. “Cultural engagement” is simply being human. And humans by definition make culture.

What do you think?