Our New Podcast Episode Covers the Top Seven Ongoing Fantasy Debates

In our newest Fantastical Truth podcast episode, we survey seven debates Christian fans followed in 2019.
on Feb 11, 2020 · 5 comments

We’ve just hit four episodes at the Fantastical Truth podcast, and episode four explores the top seven debates from last year.

Of course, these topics could (and likely will) continue in some form into this year.

All of these are based on my article, These Are the Top Ten Most-Read SpecFaith Articles in 2019.

You can download the full episode here. Or visit the podcast archive to listen to all four episodes thus far.

Of course, you can also search Fantastical Truth on any podcast player (Apple, Google, Spotify, the works) to listen and subscribe.

Which of these debate topics would you like to explore more about? Let us know here. It’ll help us plan our next episodes.

Also: share with us how you first discovered fantastical stories! We’re planning to explore these personal journeys in episode 6.



E. Stephen Burnett, signature

E. Stephen Burnett explores fantastical stories for God’s glory as publisher of Lorehaven.com 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. I gave up fantasy at nine. Developed an unhealthy fear/paranoia of the occult. Got this fear from attending a very strict evangelical school.

  2. notleia says:

    What, people don’t just absorb fantasy by osmosis with fairy tales and Disney?

  3. I posted a long comment from my pc. Did it get caught in the spam filter? Sorry about the reoccurring issues with this.

  4. ((I’m just going to repost that comment from my phone. I would still be curious to know if my previous comment got caught in your spam filter, though. Maybe it doesn’t like either of the pcs I post from.))

    I’ll go ahead and comment on the feminism in fiction/Captain Marvel thing, along with the ‘Impuritan Activists’ issue, since out of the topics you listed those are my favorites.

    Captain Marvel didn’t resonate with me for many reasons. Sure, I’m a girl, like strong female characters and have a soft spot for stoic serious chars in general. (Many of whom have been important to me on a personal level for various reasons). But in a way that’s precisely why I didn’t care for Captain Marvel.

    It’s fine if certain characters doesn’t show much emotion, but it is very important to give them depth or at least make them an entertaining part of the show. I think they tried with Captain Marvel, but to me at least it just didn’t quite work. There’s probably a lot of reasons why she seemed a bit shallow. Sometimes it’s hard to add depth to a movie that’s only a couple hours long and focuses on action more than character development. Also, it sounded like this Captain Marvel was made to be a feminist icon more than anything else, and what character growth she had was supposed to center around a metaphor for ‘I don’t need to be ashamed of myself or being a woman in any way, shape or form!’

    Obviously people shouldn’t be ashamed of who they are, especially not for something as harmless as being a woman. But some of the discussions and attitudes surrounding shows like this almost present a one dimensional look at the struggles women face, or as if women all think, feel and react the same on certain topics. And then we sometimes get stories with female leads whose primary purpose is to smirk arrogantly and give everyone a lecture about feminism. Or maybe just give the finger to the patriarchy, as if that’s all a female lead’s thoughts should revolve around. I’m not saying Captain Marvel did that in a literal sense, but that’s kind of an easy connotation to get out of the show when combining it with the discussions surrounding it.

    If people enjoy this show and get something out of it, that’s great. Different chars resonate with people for different reasons. But the attitude that some people have seems to be ‘Oh, you don’t like this feminist movie? You must be sexist!’ which is kind of a toxic attitude to have. Saying things like ‘this movie wasn’t made for you’ is legitimate in the sense that shows only resonate with certain audiences. But it’s presumptuous for a studio to make something ‘for women’ and act like it’s definitely going to resonate with most of them. Some Youtubers (regardless of their gender) have even joked that movie studios have been putting woke stuff in low quality films/characters just so they can dismiss their critics as racist/sexist/whatever.

    I’m going to contrast this with another stoic female character. I know I pick on The BlackBlood Alliance a lot, but I’m only doing so because it’s a good example. I don’t enjoy this story for the sake of feminism, but it’s relevant to discussions of feminism because of how good it is with its female characters. Anyway, Swiftkill, the main char, is generally pretty serious and stoic as a baseline, and that’s how she’d probably be viewed by a lot of the chars interacting with her. But, as members of the audience, we get to see her expressions and other indications that she’s a complex (if imperfect) being.



    So, here we have her being stoic, but in that second page she shows both emotion AND a subtle, well made bit of character development. In spite of how serious she is, she exhibits little explosions of anger. Those are usually very well earned, partly because of her past, the fact that Cricket (the chatty purplish gray wolf) has been grating on her nerves the whole time, and she’s been in and out of legitimately life threatening situations she didn’t ask for.

    But her character isn’t just shown in outbursts, but in the things she says and does. In spite of having reasons to be very annoyed and angry with Cricket(Cricket’s very kind, but also dangerously naive and keeps getting Swiftkill in trouble) Swiftkill has that moment where she pauses long enough to see how innocent Cricket is, hates the idea of hurting her feelings, and finds a way to get some peace and quiet without being a jerk.

    Another thing is that, although Swiftkill constantly has valid reasons to be angry and distant, the story is quite willing to explore her flaws. Yes, her birth pack was abusive to her and, yes, many things in this world hurt her or are out to get her. She has every right to try and survive and feel bitter about everything she’s been through. But that doesn’t mean that everything she does is correct, even when she makes statements against injustice:


    In a weird way maybe she was being empathetic toward Cricket, and I get her point. But, still, she projected her own childhood experiences onto Cricket and her pack, and hurt Cricket’s feelings in the process. Swiftkill probably wasn’t trying to be a jerk and may have even been trying to warn Cricket in a way. If so, I can sympathize with the idea of someone coming across differently than they intended.

    But the great part of that scene was that, although many can sympathize with Swift, she’s not depicted as perfect. When she acts a certain way, she gets a reasonably realistic response and gender has little, if anything, to do with it. And that hints at some very strong character growth and struggles for her. Not only does Cricket(who kinda idolizes Swift) react negatively to Swift’s less pleasant side, but so does a major antagonist and wolves she barely met. They’re all slightly wrong about their judgements of her, and she has plenty of reasons to be unpleasant, but she still has plenty of things to fix.

    I will say that some of her worst traits actually work in her favor from a storytelling standpoint, though. In a lot of ways, she doesn’t give a damn about what anyone thinks. This makes her seem arrogant and uncaring sometimes, but that, combined with the fact that she isn’t very emotional on a normal basis, means that she isn’t looking for pity and just wants to be left alone. Ironically, sometimes it’s easier to respect a character that’s just trying to live their life and feels frustrated at setbacks in that regard. (As opposed to one that, in some way or other, complains that no one cares about them.) That’s not always the case, and I’m not saying that Captain Marvel makes obvious bids for sympathy in the movie, but that dynamic can be a useful to notice sometimes.

    Now, one last thing. I don’t know if Kay Fedewa(Blackblood Alliance’s author) had feminism in mind much when making this comic, but many of the major chars in this comic are female and very well made. Two of them are leaders, and Swiftkill accidentally takes on a leadership role at certain times because she’s competent and trying to keep those traveling with her alive. But these strong female characters have a lot of obvious differences in personality and behavior that are obvious the moment Swiftkill interacts with them.

    Variety feeds into the “Impuritan Activists” thing, because as much as people in certain circles talk about diversity/that people in minority groups should be themselves, etc., their idea of representation seems too rules based sometimes. Or like certain minorities only like being represented in certain ways and anyone that deviates from that better repent and change how they write, otherwise they’re evil and don’t deserve to have a voice anymore.

    Maybe most don’t literally think that, but some activists come across that way and it causes damage to both sides. Starting internet pileons just comes across as hateful and toxic. People who do that will often seem unreasonable and not worth listening to. They might also make the very people they’re trying to help(women, minorities, LGBT+ people) afraid to share their opinions/stories because it can be hard to predict when they’ll upset the Twitter/Tumblr/whatever mobs. So people might start to assume that standing up for women means something like being pro choice and ridiculing anyone(even a woman) that disagrees. But in reality, giving women a voice and standing up for them means upholding their right to be listened to regardless if they’re conservative or liberal. Obviously people are allowed to argue with them, but some people go beyond that and won’t even take time to listen to WHY a woman might hold certain beliefs.

    That said, a big issue with internet pileons and such is that our society acts like famous people(especially ones we like, sadly) are obligated to be our spokespeople. While people shouldn’t abuse their power, the simple fact of the matter is that they are all individuals in the end, with their own rights and voice that shouldn’t be taken away. It doesn’t matter how rich and popular they are. Now, there’s nothing wrong with fair discussion about things people do. It’s fine to, say, take one of Rowling’s tweets and be like ‘I disagree with this, and here’s why’.

    But maybe it’s unhealthy to camp out on people’s social media and act like any unpleasant thing they say is a newsworthy event. Complaining about those things is less toxic in real life among small groups of friends that are just venting to each other. But when we post something online, most of the time it’s there forever, and can be shared around until the mobs go crazy over it. Unfortunately, it’s also a way for false information to get spread. Even if the first person that talks about it does so accurately, it can be misinterpreted and suddenly the name of an author/Youtuber/whatever is completely smeared all over the internet.

    Sadly, I read an article once that basically said internet pileons aren’t a big deal and mainly just happen to people that are rich and famous enough not to get hurt by any of the criticism. That isn’t true at all. Many people of many groups are affected by this. And even if it doesn’t affect them in real life, internet pileons can be a difficult thing for them to go through, especially if they end up having to withdraw from communities they love in order to get away from all the nonsense.

    Wow, sorry for the essay, but these are things that have been on my mind lately.

    I noticed that on the Share Your Thoughts part of your Podcast page, it asks for permission to share quotes in future episodes. If you guys want to quote parts of this comment that’s fine.

What do you think?