From CAPC To Realm Makers

As the Realm Makers conference begins, enjoy my speculative-story-related articles at Christ and Pop Culture about Christ-figures, superheroes, faith-based films, and apologetics vs. imagination.
on Aug 1, 2013 · No comments

logo_realmmakersToday I finish packing, then launch out to drive to St. Louis for the first Realm Makers.

There I’ll help announce the winner of the Clive Staples Award at the conference’s costume dinner tomorrow night, Friday, Aug. 2. Internet readers will then learn of that winner this coming Saturday — and each contest finalist will also receive a handsome certificate.

But in the meantime, even while Spec-Faith was having its machinery broken by gremlins, I was able to keep up my own attempts to explore epic stories for God’s glory. That’s because last month I also joined Christ and Pop Culture, at the Patheos “religion blogs” network.

logo_christandpopcultureYou’ve likely seen some CAPC links here at Spec-Faith. On occasion they’ve returned the favor. And because discerning and enjoying all culture is a favorite topic, I had to join.

Today before I leave, I’m finishing a feature for CAPC that will compare a certain bestselling secular fantasy series with a certain bestselling evangelical fantasy series, all to ask the big question: which series, for all its redeeming qualities, is more often abused by readers to justify real-life mysticism and superstition? But my existing columns are here, including:

1. Going Beyond ‘Yay! It’s a Christ-Figure’

supermanjesus_youdontsayRecently I’ve adopted a new parody catchphrase that goes something like this: “Yay! It’s a Christian story.” This phrase seems useful for affectionately sarcastic observations such as:

  1. (Quote from a review of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey) “Soon after Gandalf comes to Bilbo, 13 dwarves show up, a biblical number.” Yay! It’s a Christian story.
  2. An episode of the sadly short-lived Green Lantern: The Animated Series quoted from 1 Cor. 13 and showed “greater love.” My own reaction: Yay! It’s a Christian story.
  3. In Oz The Great and Powerful, the wizard crashes and prays, “Get me out of here and I’ll do great things.” Later: “Thank You. You won’t regret this.” Yay! It’s a Christian story.

People suspect that is exactly how a story becomes Christian: pray to God, quote a Biblical phrase, or even have a “Biblical number” of something. For those who believe this is my Father’s world, with our Father’s work in nature, Scripture, and math, this is a partial truth. Yet it can be hijacked into forced attempts to find subtle Biblical references in stories. … (Read the rest)

2. Breaking News: ‘Faith-Based’ Films Take On Hollywood

critiquingcriticsofchristianfictionWhere did you expect to see former senator Rick Santorum a year after his presidential campaign? How about as the head of a new faith-based film studio?

Yes, and one focused on making its own story with a stunning plot twist: They’ll offer actual quality movies, but faith-based.

The Religion News Service reported:

[Santorum said] faith-based films tend to be lousy, and Christians should quit trying to lock modern popular culture out of their lives. . . . “For a long time, Christians have decided that the best way to fight the popular culture is to keep it at bay, to lock it out of their home. … That’s a losing battle,” Santorum said in an interview . . .

Reading this brings me the same response as hearing, say, that “The Church is in Trouble,” or that “More Christian Men Must Man Up”: You don’t say?

Surely most Christians agree we must reject those “lock out pop culture” notions. But we seem confused about what’s next and especially why. … (Read the rest)

3. Rachael Slick’s Deconversion and the Two Paths of Life: Dead Logic or Living Joy

cover_wordpicturesIt’s risky to start saying, “This person’s rejection of faith could have been avoided If Only …”

Still, if someone says her father was a relatively well-known apologetics group founder, and she memorized all the debate points but now rejects Christ, let’s take heed.

Faith rejections have many causes. One may be sincere appraisal of other religions. Another may be an opposition to Christian sexual ethics (as Tim Keller suggested). But in her Monday column for Friendly Atheist, Rachael Slick emphasized her apologetics-based upbringing — an upbringing that backfired.

[…] Novelist and screenwriter Brian Godawa’s story begins similarly. As a younger Christian, he likewise craved apologetics, evidence, facts, doctrines, and debate (and still enjoys these).

In his opening chapter of his nonfiction Word Pictures, he describes where this craving led. … (Read the rest)

4. Finding Super-Blessings Among Cinematic Bombs

logo_batmanvssupermanSuperhero films result in many small blessings, perhaps including the amusing fact that some critics seem determined to coax themselves into disillusionment with the genre.

After the last Comic-Con, I’ve heard more such views from secular and Christian critics.

Secular critics seem to say: The superhero genre is tired; Hollywood is stretching to make a super-mint. Recently gave its own headline to the Man of Steel sequel story: “Studio tries SUPERMANBATMAN.” You’d think all such projects risk the same box-office doom as, say, The Lone Ranger or R.I.P.D. But fans reacted excitedly (such as here).

Meanwhile, some Christian critiques tend to sound like that of fantasy author and film reviewer Jeffrey Overstreet. … (Rest the rest)

E. Stephen Burnett explores fantastical stories for God’s glory as publisher of and its weekly Fantastical Truth podcast. He coauthored The Pop Culture Parent and creates other resources for fans and families, serving with his wife, Lacy, in their central Texas church. Stephen's first novel, a science-fiction adventure, launches in 2025 from Enclave Publishing.
  1. bainespal says:

    Congratulations on the new platform! I will enjoy catching up on your writing there.

    There I’ll help announce the winner of the Clive Staples Award at the conference’s costume dinner tomorrow night, Friday, Aug. 2. Internet readers will then learn of that winner this coming Saturday

    What, no live tweets? (kidding ;))

  2. Kirsty says:

    I would like to lodge a complaint: This blog is far too distracting when I’m supposed to be working 🙂

What do you think?