Christian Fantasy and Critical Thinking

Author Rick Miesel gives us a historical-critical analysis of fantasy. While I do not necessarily agree with everything Mr. Miesel had to say, it certainly gave me pause to consider.

Because I have school age children, the article rang a clear note with me. I have to look at everything differently. Food, movies, tv, books, video games, and the next new thing.

Mr. Wiesel is a parent and is concerned about the spiritual welfare of his children. He should be. The information age has made access easy. Access to every sort of good or terrible thing available all over the world.

Since we have access, parents must be careful. We are called "train up a child in the way he should go." As much as I would like to, I cannot close their eyes to the Twin Towers. Or the pictures of soldiers in tanks. Or to the pictures of abortion on the picket signs of protestors. Or cereal commercials.

What do I do?

I talk to my children.

I have to teach them to think. To question. To listen. Not just to the sorcery -- "The Force" being equivalent to black magic and white witchcraft, but also to preachers who proclaim the ever popular blab it and grab it gospel.

My family and I rented The Thief Lord, based on a novel by Cornelia Funke. My husband and I rolled our eyes at the blatant disrespect of adults by the children, by the assumption that it's ok to steal in certain circumstances, by the standard "terrible rich father / neglected son," by the premise that the children could "take care of themselves" in an abandoned movie house in Venice.

Thankfully, the kids were bored with the movie. When it was done, we talked about it and asked them what they thought. And they told us and we listened. I have no doubt that Mr. Miesel does this with his own family.

In these times we live in, we believe pastors and parents must exercise extreme caution regarding the literary use of fantasy.

I couldn't agree with that statement more. My children go to a public school in a very Catholic area. We are blessed that way because the values are very close to our own. I am encouraging my kids to read a lot of books, including the Potter Books and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Why? Because they live in a world that reads it and how can they respond to it as Christians if they don't know what it's in it? How can I respond to Potter if I have never read the books?

By the way, I have read every Potter book. My kids haven't read a single one. Too busy with Pokemon.

Today's children see nothing wrong with pagan practices.

Not to mention nursery rhymes--do you know what ring around the rosey is about?
Or Humpty Dumpty?
What about the days of the week, many of them names for Norse gods?
The names of the planets?
What about the tradional wedding song by Mendelssohn?
Knocking on wood?
Throwing salt over you shoulder?

"Christian" fantasy parallels the occultic literature for children, using similar images, story-lines, symbols and characters. Literary fantasy, rather than being neutral, has occultic roots.

As a parent, I feel like I need to know about these things now, talk about them in the open rather than forbidding it and making fantasy a forbidden fruit.

Fantasy does have occultic roots. In what respect? In what instance? How does that differ from what the bible teaches? Why is it bad? Why is it easy? When were these myths written? These are questions that should be asked. Must be asked, especially when they're small, because if you DON'T bring it out in the open then, they will hide it from you later.

Finally, Most true Christians would recognize fantasy...as being extremely wicked...

I am a Christian. I read science fiction and fantasy novels; not all, I use something called discretion. Until a year ago, I had no idea that Christians wrote science fiction and fantasy, other than Mr. Peretti and Mr. Jenkins and LaHaye.

Science Fiction and Fantasy is a popular genre with believers and non-believers alike. If the Christian community does not respond with stories--excellent stories--based on Judeo-Christian values, who will be the salt? Who will be the light to millions of readers?

And, if we are to eliminate fiction, then many preachers will have to revisit their sermons. Some actually tell stories as illustrations. Are they lying? Is this Fiction? Or is it acceptable because they are preaching from a pulpit?

I agree that we must be careful what we allow our children to read. We must be careful what we read ourselves. We must be careful of what we write so not to cause others to stumble. We must be careful judging others that we not bring judgment on ourselves.

We must be careful of legalism and fear.


Frank Creed said...

A real-life view of preparing our children for the real world. We can't send them out with blindfolds.

Anonymous said...

ChrisD you rock. Imagination and creativity are what I think about when I hear fantasy. Good fantasy teaches and relates to our world. Rod Sterling brought us many fables on the Twilight Zone--Prejudice is wrong, Perspective is important, Reserve judgment in new situations. He was closer to Aesop than most writers. Strong morality themes (LOTR, Star Wars) teach us to discern evil. We can go with the force or turn to the dark side, it is our moral choices that matter.

Brent Jones, blogging on Whine Knot