Soul Searching Through Fantasy
by Wayne Thomas Batson
Life’s hard. I don’t care who you are or what tax bracket you’re in, you are going to get hurt. Scripture tells us that, as Christians, we’re not exempt from this broken, sin-sick world or the pain that comes with it. In fact, we get the comforting news that, as Christians, we might just expect to get more suffering. Yay. Count it all joy, right? I’m trying to; I bet you are too. But it’s not easy.
If you’re reading this, you’re likely a fan of Fantasy Fiction already, so I’m probably preaching to the choir. But I submit that one of the most redeeming values of reading and writing fantasy is that it’s fertile ground for your heart…your soul to go searching. We find ourselves enchanted by quaint Hobbit villages like the Shire where all things green and growing are held in high honor; where friends gather nightly over a pint–and talk; where children can play with no fear. We think, “Ah, if only life could be that simple…and good.” I believe that our souls are hungry and thirsty for heaven. And fantasy can give us a little taste. But only a taste. Christian and non-Christian readers alike, know that heaven is far greater than any fantasy author’s imagination could ever conjure. And it’s ours for the asking. Jesus said so. “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” John 10: 9-10.
We cheer for the unsung heroes of fantasy: the Frodo’s, the Charlie Bones’, the Edward’s, the Meggie’s, the Luik’s, the Aidan’s, the Willow’s, and the Kale’s. When they rise up and defeat some hideous evil, a piece of us rises up with them. It’s exhilarating and often inspiring. We want to see good triumph and evil thrown down once and for all. Fantasy provides an echo of our longing for God, His justice, and His eternal victory.
When I was a “wanna-bee” author and mainly a fantasy reader, I used to think that maybe this next point was just me. But after receiving numerous letters and emails from my readers, I’ve come to learn that many people come to fantasy to wrestle with the big questions. Who am I? Why am I here? Does my life mean anything…anything at all? And the big one: does anyone out there really love me? You might be thinking, those are questions for non-Christians only. I disagree. Os Guiness, Phillip Yancey, James Dobson, among others, disagree as well. Still, I might be in the minority, but I wonder about these things. Oh, I know what the Bible says about each of these issues. And thank God that God addresses each question mightily. But still, I sometimes wonder.My soul continues to search. Why isn’t cancer cured yet? Why are there so many denominations when Jesus called us to unity? Why won’t God audibly speak to me like He did to folks in the Bible? Why do my own children fight me when I’m just trying to help them? Why is sin still so tempting? Why do Christians fight and slander one another over the dumbest things? And why do people I trust let me down? Honestly, writing fantasy has helped me in this varied search. In some ways, Aidan, Antoinette, and Robby in The Door Within Trilogy each mirror a different stage of my Christian development. And in my new book Sword in the Stars (AMG, 2010), I’m a lot more like Alastair Coldhollow than I’d care to admit. But the fantasy helps. Genre conventions such as world-building allow me to strip away some of the superficial gunk that builds up on us over time in our world. Immersed in new races and cultures, I am free to look at certain issues and really –see– them. In the books that follow Sword in the Stars (7 books in the series), I’ll be delving into a ton of issues and hopefully giving my readers a healthy shaking.
And these books are neither Christian fantasy books or anti-Christian fantasy books. They are fantasy books that I hope will appeal to the sojourner in all of us. Until we meet again, you can find me at the Green Dragon, lifting a tankard and calling out my message to anyone who will listen: Wake up, go soul searching.
~~~~~~~~~Wayne Thomas Batson (born 1968 in Seabrook, Maryland) is an American writer. He has been married to his wife for seventeen years and has four children. Mr. Batson is also a middle school teacher of twenty years experience and continues to teach reading at Folly Quarter Middle School.
In 2005 – 2006, Batson wrote The Door Within Trilogy, published by Tommy Nelson, a division of Thomas Nelson Publishing House. Between 2007-2008, he wrote two pirate adventures novels: Isle of Swords and Isle of Fire. After 2008, Mr. Batson coauthored with Christopher Hopper The Berinfell Prophecies: Curse of the Spider King and Venom and Song. His most ambitious work has just begun: A seven-volume epic fantasy series called The Dark Sea Annals. Sword in the Stars released in November of 2010. Book 2, The Errant King, is due out in Fall 2011.
Mr. Batson is also working on a supernatural thriller aimed at more mature audiences than his previous books. Ghost (tentative title) is scheduled for a Spring 2011 Kindle release.