Most people think of me as an advocate for fantasy, and in particular, Christian fantasy. And I am. But my position is somewhat tempered. Why? Because fantasy is dangerous.
Yes, you read that correctly. I believe fantasy is dangerous.
Fantasy, even that which is not allegorical, provides a metaphor for reality, and sometimes we humans see the way things actually are more clearly by looking at a visual representation rather than looking at the actual thing. But a skilled writer does this in a way that catches a reader off guard. Before he is aware he has been looking at the life views of the writer, he is already rooting for the protagonist of the story.
Of course, all fiction shows the life views of the writer, but in a murder mystery or an historical about Jewish concentration camps or a romance involving a prostitute, the world views of the writers are perhaps a little easier to spot.
Some might think the world view of the fantasy writer is easy to spot, too, because, afterall, fantasies predominently show a good versus evil struggle. But there in is the problem. The author’s view of what is good may or may not be true.
Add to the fact that fantasy gives a more subtle reflection of the author’s worldview, this truth: much fantasy deals with the spiritual. Yes, spiritual. It seems that fantasy writers, perhaps drawn by the metaphorical aspects of the genre, write about the unseen more often than not.
As if that’s not dangerous enough, couple these with what’s going on in our Western culture. The mantra of tolerance, the attack on rationalism, the rise of story, and the elevation of the emotions seems to have eroded discernment. What matters today is not what is true but what feels right.
Enter fantasy, with it’s ability to define or re-define good and evil, and show it through a story. The genre is tailor made for today.
Which is exactly why Christians should embrace it and write it and read it and give it to their non-Christian friends. Can any character create a longing for God like Aslan? Or show creation in such a compelling way as Lewis did in the story about the beginning of Narnia?
Unfortunately, because Lewis wrote these wonderful tales, it seems like many Christians think It’s Been Done. Who needs to write again what has been written?
As long as there’s an author writing His Dark Materials, as long as a film maker is producing movies like The Lion King, then there’s a need for Christians to write fantasies that keep good and evil straight.
The biggest danger of all regarding fantasy is if Christians quit writing it.