Fantasy and a Christian Worldview, Part 22

Mir said something in her comment yesterday that helped me see the “other side of the coin” :

Seeing a “rounded” evil in novels doens’t justify it for me. It rather is a cautionary thing for me: I, too, can do this. I, too, am not far from the pit if I don’t watch myself and pray.

I can see how that might be the case when a human evil character is portrayed as having character strengths. The serial killer is a dog lover or gives up a cab for an old lady, that sort of thing. A novel that does this kind of portrayal, in my opinion, is Chris Well’s Forgiving Solomon Long.

Forgiving Solomon Long.

I certainly don’t object to a story that puts all mankind on even footing, because that’s where we are. But I also don’t think this kind of story accomplishes such a goal for all readers.

There are people who know of the murder in their own hearts and don’t need the reminder that “there but for the grace of God go I.” For them the portrayal of lighthearted criminals and their jests before or after commiting heinous deeds might actually belittle what the reader already knows to be a monstrous evil.

I guess what I’m actually saying is, I don’t think Dekker can point a finger and say that people who prefer not to read about murder and rape are necessarily doing so because of “sentiment.”

It is important, I think, for authors to grasp that others might have a valid way of looking at things in a different way. I’d like those who write about the evil that man does to man to understand there are legitimate reasons people stay away from their work. One being an abhorrence for evil and another being a love of it. These people should not be maligned for making a critical decision. They should be applauded.

Of course, the reverse is true. The reader or writer who chooses to look away from evil that man does to man should not vilify the author who feels compelled to uncover sin.

Having said that, I want to qualify something. The evil we are talking about here is the evil in the hearts of mankind.

I have a different opinion about the treatment of evil that high fantasy most often deals with—that of Satan and his forces. Next time.

Published in: on June 13, 2006 at 11:18 am  Comments (2)  
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