In Fantasy’s Defense


I mentioned last Friday that I’d followed a link to an anti-fantasy article, especially railing against C.S. Lewis. In truth, I’ve heard others talk about encountering such people, but I haven’t come up against them much and certainly not in a full-blown article reasoning against the genre at such a thoughtful level.

By saying “thoughtful,” I don’t mean to convey any agreement. I think it is not unusual for people to think something over, to reason it out, and to come to the wrong conclusion. Fantasy, however, doesn’t generally seem to be one of those topics. Instead, people seem to react emotionally. In reality, they are reacting to code words such as witch, magic, dragon, wizard, and such.

Not more that a day or so passed, and an author in an email group pointed to a discussion about theology and fiction in which another anti-fantasy writer condemned the genre as evil. YIKES! 😮 They DO exist. The do still exist! And are growing more vocal, it would seem, possibly because Christian fantasy is finally taking hold.

Ironically, this writer taking the anti-fantasy stand described the evils of “‘Christian’ fantasy” with apparently no knowledge of the genre. She repeatedly condemned it for using “evil”:

I will reiterate again – if life’s experiences lead you to share a story about how God has impacted your life, cool. But to make up stories using characters and images that have already been used for evil and then try to twist them into something godly – is to taint and corrupt any perceived “good”. You are giving satan the glory, not God.

I immediately ran over the books of Christian fantasy I’ve most recently read: George Bryan Polivka‘s – no, no witches, goblins; Sharon Hinck – none in her books either; Jeffrey Overstreet – don’t remember any; Andrew Peterson – no. Karen Hancock – not those either. Sure, each of these books have creatures representing evil, but they don’t fall into the category of “images that have already been used for evil.”

Granted, both Donita Paul and Bryan Davis have books about dragons and they make those dragons good. Davis actually gives a story explanation that gives God credit for the transformation. Paul seems to take a more traditional approach, letting the reader conclude on his own that wizards in the DragonKeeper Chronicles can be good or bad, that dragons are good but can be captured and/or corrupted.

Which brings up the issue. If some other writer uses a dragon as a symbol of evil, are all writers thereafter obligated to make the dragon a symbol of evil? I would loudly proclaim, NO! To take such a stand is to deny God’s power of redemption.

Ah, one might say, Satan is beyond redemption, and the Dragon is a symbol of Satan in Scripture. One writer in the discussion pointed out that we should not confuse the Dragon with dragons. The latter, of course, don’t actually exist! They once might have. Some people think possibly dragons were dinosaurs. Nevertheless, in literature today, they can take on the value the writer gives them.

To think otherwise is a kind of prejudice, akin to saying Germans were evil in the 1930’s and 40’s and therefore they must be considered evil in all writing from then on. Odd to think that people can be prejudiced against creatures that don’t actually exist, but there it is.

As you might suppose, I have much more to say on this subject, but will save it for Fantasy Friday. 😀

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