Stories That Matter

Stories affect us for good or for evil, shaping our thinking, actions, and culture.
on Nov 8, 2019 · 19 comments

Samwise Gamgee, gardener from the Shire, is one of my all-time favorite characters. This unassuming hobbit embodies so much of what it means to be honorable, faithful, trustworthy, and honest. This speech from the end of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) speaks volumes to me:

Frodo: I can’t do this, Sam.

Sam: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are.

It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy. How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad happened.

But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.

Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now.

Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t. Because they were holding on to something.

Frodo: What are we holding on to, Sam?

Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.

I’d be willing to bet that anyone who has read a great novel has been forever impacted, even changed by it. Characters will travel with you as you trek through this journey called “life.” Trials faced by fictional characters help you cope with your own struggles. And sometimes, you even end up adopting some of the beliefs held by the heroes.

This is the power of storytelling.

Redeeming Love, Francine RiversLet me share a personal story from my own life. Years ago I read a book by Francine Rivers called Redeeming Love. Although my favorite genres are science-fiction and fantasy, I decided to try a romance novel because I had heard so many great things about this particular one.

It was a retelling of the story of Hosea from the Bible set in California in the 1850s. The main character feels a calling from God to marry a prostitute. Due to her horrible past of abuse, she did everything in her power to reject him, mock his faith, and tear him down. Yet he remained faithful. In the end, his unfailing love won her over and changed her life.

And mine as well. When I faced a difficult time in my marriage, it was that story of faithfulness that kept me going. I wanted to give up and quit so many times, but I knew that wasn’t what God wanted me to do. In many ways, I can credit Francine Rivers and her novel Redeeming Love for saving my marriage.  

Stories have a way of affecting us for good, or for evil. Some can uplift, others tear us down. But all have a way of shaping our thinking, our actions, and our culture. Just look at how TV shows and movies have impacted our country over the past fifty years.

One example is the show Will and Grace. Regardless of how we feel about LGBT issues, this show had a profound impact on culture. Vice President Joe Biden had this to say about the NBC sitcom: “Things really begin to change … when the social culture changes …. I think Will and Grace probably did more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody’s ever done so far.”

When talking about the impact of Star Wars, George Lucas said, “[Star War is] designed primarily to make young people think about the mystery. Not to say, ‘Here’s the answer.’ It’s to say, ‘Think about this for a second. Is there a God? What does God look like? What does God sound like? What does God feel like? How do we relate to God?’”

C.S. Lewis said, “The most dangerous ideas in a society are not the ones that are being argued, but the ones that are assumed.” I believe we are seeing a shift in our society. There is a growing number of people who don’t think through their beliefs. Instead, they ‘feel’ them. They find characters they like in a story (often TV or movies) and they adopt the worldview of that character because it ‘feels’ right. Since they like the character, and the character seems wise, they uncritically ‘assume’ what that character says as gospel truth.

As Christians in this cultural moment, we have the ability to do the same. We are image bearers of a creative God. We are made to create, not just consume. Christians should be on the front line of creating quality stories. After all, our model is the greatest story ever told. We can help readers see the world through a biblical lens or worldview.

I believe there is a hunger in the Christian community for stories that contain the excitement, thrill, and fantastic elements of Star Wars, Harry Potter, Marvel superheroes, etc, but that incorporate Christian elements, themes, and theology. I think we’ve all been there. How many times have you read a book or watched a great movie, only to be frustrated when the author suddenly inserts elements into the story that are blatantly anti-Christian?

I write in a genre I call apologetics fiction. It is fiction that weaves apologetics (answers to tough questions about God) into the plots in a way that helps the readers think through biblical concepts and issues. In particular, I write sci-fi apologetics fiction. One of my primary audiences are homeschooling families. Over the past twelve years, I’ve had numerous parents come up and thank me. They say things like, “My son wants to read Hunger Games, or Percy Jackson, or stuff like that, but I’m uncomfortable with some of the content. I’m concerned with the secular worldviews presented in them. Thank you for writing books that my son wants to read, and I can rest assured will draw him toward God, not away from Him.”

These parents recognize the power of storytelling to shape the attitudes and beliefs of their children. As followers of God, we need to be careful what we feed our minds. As Paul says in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Our culture has an increasing fascination with darkness. Recently, there have been a growing number of movies where the main characters are anti-heroes (Deadpool, Venom) or even villains (Suicide Squad, Joker). As much as we Christians are hungry for uplifting story, our culture is malnourished and starving for that which is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.

Christian speculative fiction accomplishes many things. It can make the Christian faith plausible. It can point the reader to the good that we all long for. It can make Christianity attractive and desirable. It can impart Christian worldview and theology. It can strengthen the faith of a believer. In can play a part in watering the seed planted by others that may one day result in altering the eternal destiny of a person made in the image of God.

For writers, making these stories is a high calling indeed. Bathe it in prayer. Draw close to the One who gives talent, skill, and inspiration for all we do.

And for all of us as readers, we need to use discernment about the stories we digest. They can often be like catchy songs with bad lyrics. They invade our minds and spirits like viruses. We need to feed our souls with stories that are, in the words of that wise sage, Samwise Gamgee, “stories that really matter.”

Keith A. Robinson teaches others how to defend the Christian faith. Since the release of Logic’s End, his first novel, he has been a featured speaker at Christian music festivals, homeschool conventions, apologetics seminars and churches.
  1. notleia says:

    What’s wrong with anti-heroes? I think it’s a failure (albeit a common one) of imagination for Christian subculture to insist that protagonists MUST also be role models.
    To tie this back to Travis’s post yesterday, this is why we have lame caricature villains like Nicolae from LB rather than a more complex, sympathetic villain like what Travis imagined.

    Tho it’s unfortunate you recommend Redeeming Love because I followed another blog fisking it and it seems ham handed and kinda creepy in retrospect. (Guy bulldozes a girl into marrying him and isolates her in the countryside. Serial killer plot, anyone?)

    • Travis Perry says:

      The advantage of writing the hero as a paragon of virtue is you make it very clear what you (as a writer) think is virtue. Some stories have been very successful in terms of sales and cultural influence with heroes who are paragons. Classic Superman comics would be an example. The main disadvantages of paragons is they seem unrealistic or are hard to relate with.

      Anti-heroes can be powerful as well, but I think for a writer who desires to influence this world for the good, the trick is to make it clear that the story world still has right and wrong, even if the anti-hero is often a bad representation of what right and wrong are. Or at least at times is a bad representation.

      What’s common in a lot of modern stories though is to paint a story in which there are no clear poles of good and evil. Or there’s a sliding scale, so that what was formerly considered evil is now considered to be good.

      But I believe very much that Good and Evil are quite real and while there are some interesting shades in point of view as to what these really are, most people instinctively recognize great evil when we witness it, even if we are some soft on our own bad behavior that we have a hard time recognizing good.

      So, I’m cool with anti-heroes, but not cool when a story has a moral framework that works to be confusing about the nature of good and bad.

      • notleia says:

        The thing is, it feels like Christian culture is so focused on stories about good vs bad that it forgets to write stories about people.
        Like, how would have a Christian writer approached a story like A Handmaid’s Tale? Atwood spends more time on the anthropology of it rather than the philosophy of it. And obviously that was a successful way to go about it. I haven’t gotten ahold of the sequel yet, since it’s on hold at the library for the next three decades, but we get the viewpoint of one of the Aunts, too, and I want to know how that plays out, too.

        • Travis Perry says:

          I honestly see little appeal in Atwood’s story beyond a strong conviction on the part of the reader prior to reading it that religious fundamentalism is dangerous, so women are in danger from fundies and thus the tale appeals to readers interested in a story that portrays just that.

          I haven’t read Atwood, to be fair, perhaps she’s brilliantly persuasive in her malarkey, but I smell “agenda” and not realism all over the premise. Though of course that’s in part because I don’t find her premise realistic at all. I can’t really see a religious dictatorship of the type she imagines shooting off any trend that’s ever existed in American religion. Mormonism probably got the closest, but not even the Mormons forced women to be child-bearers in the literal sense that Atwood portrays (as I understand the story from the media buzz about it).

          Oh, I suppose it might still be interesting as a “what if” scenario, as in, “I know this could never happen, but if it did, then what”–but that’s not how the fans of this story see it from my understanding. No, they nod their heads seriously as if its some kind of predictor of a future that really could happen, unless feminists are vigilant.

          Anyway, that sort of agenda-driven stuff would seem to be quite different from writing about people as you say. Though perhaps you can enlighten me on this point–how can such a story that is taken by its fans to be a portrayal of evil Patriarchy versus good feminism actually have a strong basis in anthropology? As opposed to actually being about one particular vision of good versus evil?

          As for your idea that Christian writers forget to write about people, is that true? Eh, maybe some do.

          As for how I am, I’m more of a Micheal Crichton kind of reader and writer–I am way more interested in the premise of Jurassic Park than any of the characters that inhabit that world. I want the story world to challenge my thinking and stir my imagination. What if you could bring back dinosaurs? (that’s interesting because maybe it will happen). Or what if an virus from outer space infected humanity? (Andromeda Strain). Or what if Grendel was a Neanderthal? (Eaters of the Dead/The 13th Warrior). What if we could realistically travel back to the 15th Century? (Timeline). What if we encountered an alien device that gave human beings the power to make their wishes, including subconscious impulses, come true? (Sphere). Etc.

          Those stories I find really interesting–and note they do have strains of good and evil running through them and have some interesting characters. But those stories are not primarily about people and they aren’t mainly about virtue and wickedness, either. They are mainly about concepts, thoughts, and ideas. It seems like Keith writes about ideas as well–which sounds interesting to me.

          Tolkien and Lewis focused a great deal on good and evil and both interestingly included some characters meant to be paragons of virtue and others who were corruptible and weak. But they also are known for portraying interesting characters.

          As for the new batch of writers winning a number of Christian awards in speculative fiction, their characters seem to be their strongest suit. Yeah, some is driven by ideas and good/versus evil, but a bunch is all about people. Which is fine, albeit a bit dull in my view of the world…

          • notleia says:

            Huh, I think Michael Crichton is pretty boring-slash-unpleasant, mostly because I dislike all his characters and also they’re more like plot muppets than people.

            But Atwood didn’t write about anything — besides the sci-fi-ish Happening that makes people infertile — that never happened in real life before. I think she modeled most of the modern aspects about female oppression on Iran after the CIA gutted the democracy and let the shah take over again. Women lost control of their money and had to wear burkas/niqabs/technical name I don’t remember again, were forbidden from employment or education.
            Concubinage for heirs was a thing in other places, even if it wasn’t as governmentally organized as portrayed in Handmaid.
            Or heck, what about the human trafficking around China that happens because of the one-child policy that gave them a shortage of women? Black women were traded for breeding under slavery conditions, too.

            The elements have existed, even if that specific combo hasn’t existed (prompted by a sci-fi-ish plot), but honestly, that’s background information that Atwood doesn’t spend a lot of time on. That was mostly my point. She does way more show than tell. She shows us the caste system of women allotted out to the men, she shows us the weird-ass rituals that take the place of normal-ass human behavior, and how kinky a game of Scrabble seems when women aren’t allowed to read. In contrast, we see the secret police, like, once. The actual text isn’t all that political (the meta-conversation brings out the politics) and that’s a subtlety I don’t see in Christian fiction (except for maybe these new authors who I can’t find at my library).

            • Travis Perry says:

              It’s interesting that you find Crichton boring–yeah, you’re right, he usually did not write interesting characters, with a handful of exceptions. He’s like Tom Clancy, whose appeal again isn’t really characters but how much he would nerd out on inside details of how military and spy tech and power structures actually work. For people who loved (or love) Clancy, he was like a secret window to how the world really works but most people don’t know about. Crichton is similar but with things that are not yet happening but really could–things that are not so, but are not far off from being so but which would have radically unexpected consequences.

              As for Atwood’s premise, I am in fact limited by only knowing about it and not reading it myself. However, there is no doubt that however subtle she may have meant to be, the vast majority of her modern fans are by no means subtle. They see a vast conspiracy of men and believe that Atwood was a prophet–the Trump Administration has been compared to Gilead, for Pete’s sake. There’s no subtle reading of nuanced good and evil there–just a very stark and not at all subtle view of a particular concept of right and wrong. At least in the interpretation of Atwood’s work, this is so.

              As far as realism, human sex slavery is currently largely inspired by so-called sexual liberation–the free porn permeating the culture is in some cases is generated by literal slaves and in other cases sparks a demand for girls/women who are owned. It’s ironic that freedom leads to a demand for slaves, but it is so. And while there have been societies who have oppressed women in various ways, even in Iran women learn to read–even oppressive societies in practice can only oppress so far. The Victorian Era put a premium on sexual chastity and faithfulness to monogamy–but prostitutes were very common. It seems to me there are limits to sexuality that causes contradictions in between what people say they believe and what they really do, examples of which can be seen in how human societies combine outward beliefs of liberty, yet promote slavery, or fidelity, yet infidelity is rampant. Those sets of contradictions make me think it is only possible to change human behavior as an overall whole to a certain degree, so getting all of anything is not possible. To use a trivial example, you will never get a society in which all people are expert jugglers because not all people are suited to that. Nor will there ever be a society as wholly one-sided as Atwood’s. Though there will be new tech and new discoveries that change societies in unexpected ways, a-la Crichton.

              I think the basic idea of Gilead, while not completely impossible, runs contrary to how people act–especially now, in the world we actually live in. I mean, since Atwood is so devoid of actual speculative ideas, if her world was really possible, it should have happened already. And it never has, not entirely.

              Now, if Atwood had been more speculative and imagined reprogramming of human beings via brain mapping or something to go along with the cultural change, she’d be saying something I’d find more believable. Also more interesting.

              As for modern award-winning Christian stories, the formula I’m thinking of seems to run something like this: Imagine a fantasy world that closely parallels a historic period on Planet Earth. But with magic! The magic system isn’t too weird or anything though–nothing like I’ve imagined, like doing gravity magic or off-the-wall stuff like that. No, it’s a bit quirky is all. But the (usually female) protagonist has gone through suffering, distress and pain. Which has to be overcome, as well as the (often male) antagonist. The appeal of the story is a familiar but just-off world to a degree but mostly is character-based. I’m not going to drop title names because I don’t want to make enemies needlessly, who will get mad because I am being critical of such stories. But there is nothing wrong with them, actually. Just because they aren’t very interesting to me doesn’t mean they aren’t any good. Each to his or her own.

              • notleia says:

                Lol, you haven’t read about Victorian pr0n, or James Joyce’s kinky sex letters.
                After looking at the evidence, its ridiculous to assume the sixties invented new forms of perversion when they’ve existed all along. Rousseau, IIRC, was a masochist who liked spanking. The only thing different about the modern iteration of sex slavery is that they conduct it by cell phone and internet.

                Besides, what about Tuam? Isn’t that a little too close to Gilead, where they farmed pregnant teenagers for hard labor in the laundries and also sold the healthy babies that survived? That was running until the 80s or so.

                Maybe you want to pretend like that stuff doesnt happen in places with nice civilized middle class people, but look at Nazi Germany, which only had a population of 30-ish percent registered Nazis. ICE has been running concentration camps for the last couple years, too.

              • notleia says:

                Sidetrack: I know it’s unrealistic to expect it from Christian subculture, but I think a better way to combat misogynistic pr0n would be to make better pr0n.
                Get em hooked on stuff with actual characters. Less for the sake of edginess and more for the sake of fun-ness.

              • Travis Perry says:

                Sidetrack answered: While some porn is definitely less abusive than others, there is no such thing as showing images of human beings for the purpose of arousal that doesn’t lead to a desire to own the image on the part of some people exposed to such images. In other words, all porn is at least a little misogynistic, the only exception is male gay porn, which abuses young men instead.

                Not to mention porn is a for-profit business and selling bodies for money is inherently exploitative.

                There is no such thing as visual erotica that only titillates sexually and which does not treat the female body (or young male body for male gay porn) as merchandise. Sex slavery will never entirely go away because it’s part of human sin nature–yes, even the nature of people in religious cultures. But some cultures have less of it than others–RE my comments on the Victorian Era.

                Sin common in a culture points out the need for individual salvation. Only through personal conviction of sin (or wrongdoing in the case of non-religious conviction), especially through the acceptance of the Gospel and inner transformation via the Holy Spirit, is there any hope of most people putting aside sexually exploitative material forever.

                So in short, swapping for a different kind of porn is a bad idea. It will never work.

              • notleia says:

                Hmm, so you don’t view it as commodotizing male bodies in straight pron? But as is such with the male gaze. That is, after all, why a lot of women go for gay pronz to get a more satisfactory experience of the male body.

                But it may or may not “work,” exactly, depending on the goals in mind, I think. It won’t work to “cure” people, but evidence suggests that men with an outlet in pron harass IRL women less. The next study may suggest otherwise, tho, and I’m only really interested in it as one possible tool among many.

              • Travis Perry says:

                Eh, you’re not very good at understanding people different from you–at least not at understanding me.

                Note my argument was for continuity of behavior, as if human culture can only do so much to change what people do. Yes, I believe that individual humans can change through an encounter with God, but it will never be true than an entire society is devout and never has been true.

                So pointing out there was Victorian porn doesn’t contradict what I said, it supports it. And of course I knew about Victorian porn, but it was rare and expensive relative to porn today. Most Victorians would never see a single dirty picture in their lifetime, I’d wager, and that’s vastly different from today.

                Victorian society was far from perfect–this is something I already said. However, worldwide slavery of all kinds was almost certainly at an all-time low in terms of percentages in human history during the Victorian era.

                As for Tuam, unlike Victorian porn I’d never heard of them prior to your mention, but if the Wikipedia article on Tuam is correct, the women-ran institution that was Tuam, which never forced any woman to get pregnant, but then indeed did foster and adopt out babies for operating funds and also put women to work for operations money seems to me have only a few things in common with Gilead.

                My main bone of contention with the realism of Gilead or lack thereof is it supposes a Christian culture totally oppresses women because of the barest sliver of reasons. This strikes you as realistic because you believe Christian Fundamentalists are inclined to oppress women anyway. You in addition believe that culture is completely dominant over human behavior, so people will do whatever they are taught to do, as if people are tabula rossa (the old version of “environmentalism”). So a new culture arising based on Christian ideas that totally dominates women, especially described in little details you find anthropological, is realistic to you.

                I find it unrealistic because while I can agree that some subordination of women that a Feminist would rebel against has been part of many Christian sects, it’s actually a slander to say Christianity routinely totally oppresses women and is totally bent in that direction. Further, I say human behavior, while it can be greatly influenced by culture, can only be changed within limits, which means that cultures can only change so much in terms how people act. You will never get via culture alone, for example, a society in which women totally dominate all industry, business, and the military and all men stay at home as house husbands. The most you can get is a higher percentage of that sort of thing, but it will never be all and never has been. And I don’t think you’ll ever get a culture of 100% female oppression, though some societies have approached that.

                As far as your middle class comment, I grew up below the US poverty line and my Christianity is shaped by personal direct knowledge of low-life influences like alcoholism and promiscuity, not middle class isolation from real-world stuff. Jesus rescued me from ever having been a drunk like my father before rescuing my father through his now-strong-personal-faith.

                As far as the Nazis were concerned, yes, the minority were able to shape an entire society. Though there were always people resisting. But to get there, the Nazis needed an ideology that supported dominating the entire society. Christianity has served as a brake on the brutality of people like Ivan the Terrible, who acted his best during the most pious time of his life though even then he was dangerously crazy with the idea that God had selected him to do whatever he wanted. Christians objected to treating Native Americans like property (Bartolome de Las Casas) though not consistently enough. Christian Evangelicals put an end to the international slave trade (William Wilberforce) after tolerating it too long. The Temperance movement was Christian-inspired and allied with the Women’s Suffrage movement–both movements awash in a lot of idealism that in practice didn’t quite turn out as expected.

                You can get a Christian charity that believes in the dignity of work and the practical need to make cash to take babies from women without their consent, but that same charity would not force the women to get pregnant in a baby farm. That goes beyond the limits of the belief system–and people would rebel against such a thing anyway. Though in fairness, my understanding is Atwood does portray a rebellion stemming from something quite like what I would consider limits to how much you can change human beings via culture. So Atwood apparently saw something in Gilead that made it limited in scale in practice, limited by natural internal opposition. Or so it seems–again I haven’t read her.

                But the modern Atwood fans, perhaps present company excepted, seem to lack any appreciation of such subtlety.

              • notleia says:

                Well, heck, then. Go read Handmaid’s Tale. You might find it boring because it’s not an action-oriented book, but I don’t think you’d think it was dumb.

  2. It’s actually pretty important to have a lot of character variety in stories, though. Like, kids aren’t going to know how to deal with the Deadpools of the world if they aren’t even allowed to see examples of people like that. Definitely not saying young children should watch Deadpool, but there are plenty of people out there that are going to be completely irreverent to everything they believe, and it’s better that they start developing tools to handle that when they’re younger, rather than when they’re older. And I’m saying this from experience. I might have been further ahead when I was younger if certain methods for dealing with people like that were shown more frequently in fantasy. It might have helped me avoid getting upset at every little thing and learn more calm, practical responses instead, for example.

    I do agree that it’s important to have fiction that points people toward God, though. Interestingly enough, I read a journal post on deviantArt last night and the person discussed how they really liked the aesthetics of religion and felt like it put a lot more depth and feeling to a story and that’s why they add bits of religion to their comic.

    • Travis Perry says:

      Perhaps this isn’t what you meant, but your comment made me think that Christians should perhaps be willing to show the Deadpool type of character, gratuitous violence and sex and profanity and all, but then show that character differently from how the Deadpool movies themselves show such a figure. As in, this person, even though in some ways fulfilling a good purpose, is missing important parts of his life, is deeply empty, and could really be much better…(with Christ).

      • I wasn’t thinking about that exactly, but there’s many ways to handle a Deadpool type character, and your way could be one of them. Handling that kind of character wouldn’t have to involve extreme crassness, though. What makes Deadpool Deadpool is how amusingly playful, chaotic and irreverent he is.

        From what I understand, he’s an ENTP, at least in the live action movie released in the last few years that I actually did see. And, here’s an amusing narration of how ENTP minds process their first four cognitive functions:

        Take a look at Fe. It’s in the third slot, which is often nicknamed the Child Function and is essentially what someone is childishly aware of. Fe has to do with social norm awareness, ethics, and other people’s emotions. But if someone has Fe Child, they automatically have Fi Trickster. Fi has to do with morality and a person’s emotions. The Trickster Function is basically the person’s biggest blindspot. They may think they’re good at it sometimes, but they’re actually not.

        And then they have Si in the fourth slot, which is the Inferior slot. Si has to do with duty, long term memory, personal experience, etc. The Inferior slot is often a point of fear or insecurity, so ENTPs might randomly remember bad things that happen to them and feel afraid of discomfort or repeating bad experiences. Buuut, that also means that Se is in their Demon slot. The Demon slot contains the cognitive function that the person is least aware of and cares the least about. Se has to do with the external environment, other people’s experiences, and the overall experience one gives other people.

        So, basically, even if ENTPs pay a lot of attention to people’s emotions and might sometimes go out of their way to make others happy, they are far less aware of their own emotions and morality. And then Si Inferior makes them fear for their own experience, while Se Demon keeps them from caring nearly as much about the overall experience they give other people.

        Being childishly aware of other people’s emotions, but also caring about one’s own experience while ignoring everyone else’s, makes for some interesting and often frustrating behaviors. ENTPs can be very well aware of what emotions someone else is having, but since they care about their experience and far less about the other person’s, they might like to provoke other people and see the fallout as an extremely fun spectacle. Hence the ‘other people are living time bombs and we have the power to make them tick’ comment in that picture.

        All that to say there are many ingredients that form a Deadpool type char, and understanding what actually makes them tick and all the ways their traits manifest can help explore that type of char without having to make them super crass. ENTPs can be super fun to write, though. They’re a great way to add comic relief AND challenge the other characters(ENTPs are good at trolling people until they have to either adapt or question whether or not they are correct in everything they do)

        One of the chars in a future scifi story of mine is an ENTP, and she’s been fun to come up with. Not nearly as crass as Deadpool, but she’ll hopefully add a lot of depth and help the main char understand himself a lot more. And it will help illustrate part of the role an ENTP’s irreverence has in society.

        But, yeah, that’s basically a few quick aspects of ENTPs for anyone wanting to write deeper Deadpool type chars.

        • Travis Perry says:

          I don’t find Deadpool amusingly playful. I find him a personality type that enjoys literal cruelty, which I don’t care for. Okay, occasionally he’s actually funny, but I’m not a Deadpool fan. And yes, I see the cruelty and profanity as inherently part of who Deadpool is. Making him clean is not the same person any more, personality trait analysis aside. If you strip those characteristics away, you’re left with a funny, goofy character who goes through a lot of hardship but still manages to be heroic.

          That type of character has already been written by a Christian writer. The Beatitudes and Woes anthology I published earlier this year has a comedic superhero story by JL Ender that features a character that could perhaps be thought of as an ENTP, a clean Deadpool. Already has been done. As you’ve done yourself as well.

          • Well, you might not like him, but it is how other people see him and a big part of why they like him. Some people do like his crassness, but that in and of itself wouldn’t appeal to people without the specific brand of irreverent playfulness he exhibits(he’s often depicted as being kinda slobbish, for example. But he also has no qualms with being obsessed with a lot of ‘prissy’ things while still being tough). It’s what sets him apart from a lot of other chars that are crass.

            That said, a lot of it depends on the version of Deadpool being discussed. If I recall correctly, there have been heavily censored versions of him (when he has to appear in a story marketed to kids). I’ve seen a few fanmade comics and dialogue snippets that were pretty clean but kept him well within character. Those tidbits made my ex boyfriend(big Deadpool fan) laugh and say ‘Yep, that’s exactly what he’d do!’ even though those fanworks were pretty clean. With the movie I saw, a decent amount of his violence was actually less about pure sadism and more about vengeance and justice oriented behavior, or doing everything he can to fix his ugliness so he doesn’t have to experience rejection from his fiance. (From what I recall anyway. It’s been forever since I’ve seen it though)

            Obviously, he was still in the wrong, and yes, he did it in a way that looked sadistic. But then I guess I’d actually value the show as an example of why ends don’t always justify the means, or why I value morality way higher than I do justice. (Justice as in ‘you did wrong in my eyes and must be punished’ or ‘you did bad and thus deserve every bad thing that happens to you’ or ‘every bad deed must be returned with a punishment or bad experience’)

            I don’t mean clean as in him doing everything right, though. More like a lot of his worst traits are hinted at and not shown ‘on screen’. It’s perfectly understandable for you to not like him, though. Even though I like him well enough, I still feel uncomfortable with his crassness and more despicable behaviors.

  3. Travis Perry says:

    Keith, it was nice meeting you at Realm Makers this year and while I don’t write or publish exactly what you do, I applaud your efforts and hope you have great success!

    Note I’ve long noticed how Star Trek has slipped progressive messages into stories. Sometimes it did so movingly, sometimes awkwardly. But there should be no reason why a story universe from a Christian perspective couldn’t exist, with regular stories and then some stories that veer into “preachy”–just like Star Trek does.

  4. Steve Courteol says:

    Working on a biggie, along these lines. I agree wholeheartedly with the dearth of weighty epic stories. And this is not to put anyone’s efforts down…I honestly haven’t read much fiction recently as we have no good bookstore. I have been seeking to write something that I would actually want to read. I just hope I can finish it….

What do you think?