1. —– COMMENT: AUTHOR: Donna Swanson DATE: 7/14/2008 8:09:27 PM How I DO agree with you, Becky! I remember reading “NO MAN IN EDEN” years ago and hungering for the world described in it. It was republished under the title, “ESCAPE FROM THE TWISTED PLANET” later and I bought it again and enjoyed it just as much. It was a takeoffon Lewis’ Perelandra but put in a more readable form for newer readers. My daughter, Melynda, says that’s the way the Windfallow Chronicles make her feel,and is determined to get them published.
    So, tally ho! all you fantasy writers! The race is on.
    Donna S.

    —– COMMENT

    : AUTHOR: Carol Collett DATE: 7/15/2008 2:20:36 AM I’ve loved fantasy since elementary school. It always inspired me to look for some ‘force’ bigger and more important that what was going on around me. It helped me believe in the ability of the impossible to become reality.
    I agree fantasy can be dangerous, maybe even should be dangerous. I mean, I never knew until I was an adult that LOTR and Narnia were written by Christians. I just knew they made me want to go find something good and noble and fight for it.

    —– COMMENT

    : AUTHOR: Johne Cook DATE: 7/15/2008 2:28:38 AM Becky, I get where you’re going, but I’m going to do something I rarely do when it comes to your posts.


    I think the ‘fantasy is dangerous’ statement is frankly hyperbole.

    Running with scissors is dangerous. Playing in traffic is dangerous. Flirting with temptation is dangerous. But these are actions which have consequences.

    Fantasy is a kind of fiction, which is nothing more than ideas in the construction of a story. It’s not an action as much an assimiliation. Granted, what you do after reading will have its own consequence, but the act of reading itself is about the safest thing you can. I typically read seated in a chair. Safe as milk.

    What you /do/ with ideas can be dangerous, but that requires action. The assimilation of the ideas is no more or less dangerous than the thousands of other ideas which barrage us on a constant basis throughout the course of any given day. So while the sentiment is worth looking into–that of dangerous idea–fantasy itself is no more dangerous than breakfast.

    —– COMMENT

    : AUTHOR: DBE DATE: 7/15/2008 7:17:44 AM Let us be clear. What’s being discussed as “dangerous” is simply being exposed to points of view which are nonchristian.

    I speak, though, as a nonchristian who happens to like exposing himself to the ideas of people who utterly disagree with him. That’s why I visit a blog on christian science fiction and fantasy and read things like CS Lewis’s OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET.

    How very boring it would be to only read books by people in substantial agreement with one’s own perspective.

    —– COMMENT

    : AUTHOR: Martin LaBar DATE: 7/15/2008 10:53:43 AM Interesting title, and good post. Isn’t all fiction potentially dangerous?

    —– COMMENT

    : AUTHOR: DBE DATE: 7/15/2008 3:03:14 PM Yes, for fiction can lead one to think about things from another’s perspective and, possibly, change one’s mind.

    —– COMMENT

    : AUTHOR: Johne Cook DATE: 7/15/2008 3:20:15 PM “Let us be clear. What’s being discussed as “dangerous” is simply being exposed to points of view which are nonchristian.”

    That’s what I mean. Ideas are like dynamite. They’re only dangerous when handled flippantly or incorrectly. Handled correctly, the most potent ideas, when put into action, can change the world, but there’s an equation at work: ideas + action = results (with a remainder of consequence).

    Any ideas, by themselves, is dormant until acted on by a human agent.

    Now, if you want to make the argument that immature human activity is dangerous, I won’t argue with that. 😉

    —– COMMENT

    : AUTHOR: Rebecca LuElla Miller DATE: 7/15/2008 4:13:58 PM Good discussion, all. Yes, I admit to a bit of hyperbole in saying that fantasy is dangerous. And I do think all of fiction has the potential to insert ideas and beliefs contrary to the norm, the accepted, or the personally held.

    The position I’m taking, however, is this. Fantasy, more than other literature, deals with the spiritual. Even Carol’s description of what she felt reading Tolkien and Lewis before she knew they were Christians illustrates what I’m saying.

    And DBE, I have nothing against thinking about new ideas. In an ideal world, each reader would come to a story, enjoy it, and think about it, keeping what is true and discarding what isn’t.

    But as I pointed out in the post, discernment seems to have been swallowed up in tolerance. It’s practically looked down upon for a person to make a critical assessment about a work of fiction apart from its enjoyment quotient.

    As a result, I think we should enter into reading fantasy with eyes open.

    I think a lot of Christians close their eyes when they hear the word fantasy, and if not then, when they see the picture of a dragon on the cover, or the word wizard within the pages.

    Ah, but the greater issue: are ideas in and of themselves dangerous? Was Satan’s line to Eve, He told you you’ll die? You’re not going to die! dangerous?

    I think ideas are dangerous. I think the freeway is dangerous. Doesn’t mean I don’t get in my car and purposefully navigate the on ramp and enter the flow of traffic. But I’m aware that I need to pay attention, stay within the lanes, proceed according to the rules of the road. Surprisingly, a growing number of drivers do none of those.

    Am I saying that Christian fiction, and particular fantasy, is “safe”? Absolutely, but not for the reasons some people think. I think it’s safe because it’s true. Or should be. However, some works are falling under this “family friendly” category that may not be true (see the discussion here on The Shack), but because they have some stamp of approval by this person or that organization, they get a pass. No need to think about what the author is saying in this story. After all, it’s CHRISTIAN. Really? no need to think about what we read? Ever?


    —– COMMENT

    : AUTHOR: Johne Cook DATE: 7/17/2008 4:02:22 AM I’ve been thinking about the nature of ‘safe’ and ‘dangerous.’ There is a scene in Black Hawk Down where a Delta soldier by the name of Hoot has just returned from three days in the hot zone of Mogadishu, Somalia. He carries his weapon with him as he butts in line to eat, both things consistent with his role and his training.

    Steele: Sergeant, what’s the meaning of this?

    [Thinking he’s talking about the unauthorized pig picking]
    Hoot: Just a little aerial target practice, sir. Didn’t want to leave ’em behind.

    Steele: I’m talking about your weapon, soldier. Now Delta or no-Delta, that’s still a hot weapon. Your safety should be on at all times.

    Hoot: This is my safety, sir.
    [He holds up his index finger and bends motions as if squeezing a trigger and then walks off.]

    Sanderson: Let it alone, sir. He hasn’t eaten in a few days.

    Whether you think the gun is dangerous or not in this scene may go a long way toward defining what your view is of the role and the power of the author of fiction – any fiction.

    Personally, imho, in the hands of a trained professional, the gun is just a tool, it is the man who is dangerous.

    —– COMMENT

    : AUTHOR: DBE DATE: 7/17/2008 6:46:42 AM
    But as I pointed out in the post, discernment seems to have been swallowed up in tolerance. It’s practically looked down upon for a person to make a critical assessment about a work of fiction apart from its enjoyment quotient.

    Not by me. There’s nothing I like better than vociferously debating the attitudes and values expressed by an author through his fiction—whether I enjoyed the book or not.

    All too often I see religious people (not just christian, though they’re by far the ones I know best) who simply won’t read fiction if it expresses an opinion in contradiction to their beliefs or values. Who would no more read Philip Pullman or James Morrow (or Mark Twain, for that matter) than they would jump off a cliff.


    Unfortunately, I suspect by reading with discernment you largely mean keeping an eye out for things disagreeing with your understanding of the Bible.

    I like to read things that challenge even my most strongly held beliefs (including my skepticism of religion) with the willingness to change my views if new insights and understanding should lead me to think I was previously mistaken.

    Its happened many times. But I dont think very many christians read with such a mindset. And it seems a shame to me.

    —– COMMENT

    : AUTHOR: Mark Lucashu DATE: 7/17/2008 5:31:42 PM DBE, I want to be the first to express gladness that you are willing to come and read our thoughts and discuss spiritual issues when so many others are not. I may disagree with your (lack of) belief, but I recognize the desire to know and learn, and that is ALWAYS the first step on the road to gaining knowledge of the truth.

    Anyway, I would agree with everything said here so far. I would summarize by saying that fantasy, in comparison to, say, realistic fiction, is something of a 50. gatling gun compared to a 45. revolver, it is true that NEITHER are innately dangerous in and of themselves: it is the user, the purveyour, and the motivator that activates the weapon, and that same person who decides where to point it and how to use it. The authors (meaning all of US, ladies and gentlemen)are the ones responsible for the state of morality in the fiction genres. As Rebecca put it so perfectly, let us seek to USE fantasy to redeem the stains others have put on it, not shy away from it because of its abilities. Those same qualities that make it suited for cultists and satanists (bit of sarcasm here) are exactly what make it SO powerful for communicating God’s truth. God himself, is, after all, supernatural. Thus is it not fair to assume that supernatural fiction is what can best point to Him?

    —– COMMENT

    : AUTHOR: Marion DATE: 8/12/2008 11:52:26 AM Becky,

    I would have to write that I don’t fantasy is dangerous. However, fantasy literature has been one that has touched me the most. Also, it is literature that has made me want to be a writer.

    I look at all my favorite books:

    David Copperfield by Dickens (my favorite novel)

    Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Donaldson

    Chronicles of Narnia by Lewis

    Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin

    Islandia by Austin Tappan Wright

    and the Book of the Long Sun Series by Gene Wolfe

    Those novels have touched me deeply and ones I will read and re-read again.

    It has been fantasy literature that has open my imagination and world up unlike anything else except Christianity.

    Well, I don’t believe it dangerous. I do think it’s allegorical, spiritual, and transformative.

What do you think?