CSFF Blog Tour – Auralia’s Colors, Day 3

Yesterday I posted a rather lengthy excerpt from Auralia’s Colors author Jeffrey Overstreet’s blog Looking Closer when he was discussing The Golden Compass. Today I want to give my reaction, starting with the lines I emphasized:

Christians have become so suspicious of fairy tales, fantasy, and imagination that we have created an environment in which it is very unlikely that we will see another imagination like Tolkien and Lewis emerge.

I view this kind of rhetoric as self-fulfilling prophecy. Jeffrey Overstreet is a respected voice in Christian circles in the discussion of culture, and here he is saying Christians are suspicious of fairy tales, fantasy, and imagination. What editor, then, is going to rush right out and acquire a book that is what the professionals declare to be the very thing Christians are suspicious of?

And without editors acquiring fairy tales, fantasies, and books of imagination, how can we possibly see anything like Tolkien or Lewis emerge?

First, I argue that “Christians” are not suspicious of the imaginative. Perhaps a vocal minority has been in the past, with a few still tenaciously clinging to that view. In my comment to an earlier post, I identified these as people who are perhaps legalists (and therefore not really Christians) or perhaps Christians coming from a lifestyle they fear to fall into again (such as the occult). There are others too, those that have not been introduced to good fiction. It could be because of their schooling, their family culture, or the lack of child-friendly books when they were growing up. There also might be those who have never been taught to look for depth in fiction.

The point is, these are not ALL Christians. From time to time on this blog I have pointed to evidence that Christians, just like others in the culture are engaging works of fantasy—books or films. The most telling statistics are the Barna Group report from several years ago showing that 76 percent of Christian kids from the ages of 14 to 18 (I think) had seen or read Harry Potter. How much might that figure have grown by now?

In reality, all we need to look at is the sales success of the Narnia books to know that Christians do want quality fantasy. A half a century after they were published, these books are still some of the most loved and top many best-selling lists.

Why would anyone think Christians at large are suspicious of imaginative literature as a body in light of these facts and a growing number of others I could cite (though I’d be repeating myself ad nauseam 😉 )?

The next critical issue, I think is, What does it take for an imagination like Lewis or Tolkien to emerge? For one thing, these men were well read. They were also scholars. That says to me that they understood the underpinnings of a story, they knew how language works, they had a grasp of history, and they were more than conversant in theology. In other words, the worlds they created were not accidents of their imagination. They didn’t employ some kind of stream of consciousness writing, and from that emerged this intricate fantasy, with a Christ-like super-protagonist.

I’m overstating Mr. Overstreet’s position to make a point. Certainly Lewis and Tolkien, by their own words, did not write allegory. However, that does not mean they wrote without intention or purpose. Allegory is not the only way to show spiritual truths. Instead, both classic writers employed types and symbols, something I suggest Mr. Overstreet himself does, though he seems to be denying it in the excerpt I quoted.

Now you know why I want to have a conversation with him. 😀

For actual discussion about our featured book, Auralia’s Colors, spend some time at these other blogs:

Brandon Barr Jim Black Justin Boyer Grace Bridges Jackie Castle Carol Bruce Collett Valerie Comer CSFF Blog Tour Gene Curtis (Not on the list posted at CSFF). D. G. D. Davidson Chris Deanne Jeff Draper April Erwin Marcus Goodyear Andrea Graham Jill Hart Katie Hart Timothy Hicks Christopher Hopper Creative contest underway. (Not on the list posted at CSFF). Heather R. Hunt Becca Johnson Jason Joyner Kait Karen Carol Keen Mike Lynch Margaret Rachel Marks Shannon McNear Melissa Meeks (Holding a book give-away). Mirtika or Mir’s Here Pamela Morrisson Eve Nielsen John W. Otte John Ottinger Deena Peterson (Holding a book give-away). Rachelle Steve Rice Cheryl Russel Ashley Rutherford Hanna Sandvig Chawna Schroeder James Somers Rachelle Sperling Robert Treskillard (Not on the list posted at CSFF). Donna Swanson Steve Trower Speculative Faith Jason Waguespac Laura Williams Timothy Wise

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