One thing I love about fantasy is the ability to show the battle between Good and Evil in a more vivid and clear way. In fantasy there are shinning heroes vs. great monsters, hobbits vs. dark lords, light vs. darkness, etc. Fantasy allows you to show Good and Evil in a form everyone can easily recognize. As a Christian, I want to tell stories that show the stark contrast between light and dark, freedom and slavery, death and salvation, fantasy allows me to do this as no other genre does.
A Light in the Dark
One problem I’ve seen in a lot of modern Christian fiction is their stories are “light on light”. The writer’s are trying to show the light of Christ in an already light environment. When you light a candle in an already bright room it makes no difference. (This is true for more than just Christian fiction.) In order to show the beautiful light of God’s grace and love, you have to show the ugly blackness of men’s hearts and the consequence of sin. (Tolkien did this beautifully in The Lord of the Rings. He understood the corruption of men’s hearts and show’s it with their desire to possess the One Ring, the very symbol of evil.) Christ died a very ugly, brutal death for us on the cross, without such a sacrifice salvation for the world would be impossible. In fiction, if there isn’t darkness, the light will have no impact. Without the destruction caused by the Dark Lord, the beauty of the Shire and Rivendelle wouldn’t seem as peaceful and bright or worth protecting.
We Can’t Ignore Evil
There is evil in this world, and we are fighting a war with it. Fantasy is perfect for showing us that war. It shows us our enemies and, The One who is the ultimate victor. I believe it’s important, especially in Christian fiction, to show people the darkness so they can better understand and appreciate the light. You can’t tell someone they need salvation, without telling them why. You have to reveal the sin, evil and lies in order for grace, good and truth to become relevant and important. You can’t ignore evil in fiction, just like you can’t ignore it in real life. It’s there, it “stalks around like a lion seeking whom it may devour.” As Christians we have spiritual armor for a reason. We’re in a war with evil, and fantasy is the genre that can depict that war in every detail.
Fiction is the illusion of reality and with illusions you can exaggerate. We can better understand reality through these illusions because they are meant to teach us. I love this quote by Flannery O’Conner;
“Writers who see by the light of their Christian faith will have, in these times, the sharpest eye for the grotesque, for the perverse, and for the unacceptable. To the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind you draw large and startling figures.”
Those “large and startling figures” get people’s attention, and once you have their attention and have shown them the darkness, you can slowly turn on the lights and chase the shadows away. In fantasy, not only can you show the exaggerated illusion of reality to better understand reality, you can show the illusion of the spiritual, to better understand the spiritual. That’s another reason why I like fantasy, because of the higher level of spiritual. That’s why you have magic and unearthly creatures. Fantasy is a spiritual genre (more on that to come), hence, the battle between good and evil is so clear and vivid.
In a nut shell… a light in a bright room makes no difference. A light in a dark room changes everything.
Missed part 1? Just click the title! Magic and Fantasy: Part 1 – Overview
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