Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What I'd Like...

If I had my way, Christian Fantasy would lose its fixation on Spiritual Warfare. A book has angels or demons in it, so it must be about spiritual warfare. A book has knights on horseback who take up swords to fight the enemy. This too must be an allegory for spiritual warfare. Someone steps in a mud puddle and it must have something to do with spiritual warfare.

While there is nothing wrong with writing about spiritual warfare, if it is handled in the right way, do we really need so much of it? Fantasy is an excellent place to talk about a wide variety of subjects, but at some point we have to question whether every sword must represent the Bible and whether we really need to talk so much about demonic forces when its real flesh and blood people that we need to be concerned about.

Christian Fantasy needs more pure fantasy in which a sword is just a sword and the evil king is just the enemy. I would like to see more Christian Fantasy that is written for no other reason than the enjoyment of the writer and reader. Allegories have their place, but sometimes it’s not to not have to figure out the hidden meaning behind the author’s words.

Among Allegories, I would like to see Christian Fantasy have more books that deal with current events. Good allegories are opinionated. Animal Farm was written to ridicule Communism, for example. They let us talk about people who may be offended without calling them by name. When I look at Christian Fantasy and see so much Spiritual Warfare, I wonder if some of these authors have an original opinion at all or if they are just blind to the stuff that’s going on around them. Can we honestly say that we believe demonic activity is a more important subject than something like divorce among Christians or some other current issue?


Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Timothy, I have no problem with well-written allegory, a la Narnia, though those books aren't allegory in the strictest sense. Not many stories are. But honestly, I can only name one or two contemporary Christian fantasies that I would consider allegorical. I'm wondering what books you're reading.

On the other hand, there's a whole 'nother genre--that of supernatural suspense, a la Peretti, with angels being angels and demons being demons, but some how or other the characters of the story interact with these supernatural creatures. Now those are the stories I'm frankly tired of.

I suspect the issue for some of the publishers is the spiritual content or themes of fantasies. In the recent Zondervan contest, I received a 1 from one judge in that category, and another wrote a note saying the spiritual content was non-existant. Well, they are right, if they were looking for overt content or an allegory, which apparently they are.

Perhaps one day ... For now, I'm just happy they at least said they would look at fantasy, that they are publishing some YA fantasy, and that more houses are willing to put out fantasy.

It's a slow journey, but we are moving forward, I think.


Avily Jerome said...

Hey Timothy,

I mostly agree with you. I love fantasy in general, and I don't see why there can't be Christian fantasy for the sake of having a fantasy story written from a Christian perspective. I agree that not everything has to be overtly allegorical. On the other hand, most fantasy does involve some sort of epic battle of good vs. evil, and if it is a Christian fantasy, then presumably God is represented by Good and Satan is represented by Evil.

Also, I have no problem with books that deal explicitly with angels and demons. I love Frank Peretti, and I think he opened a whole new door as far as Christian Speculative Fiction is concerned.

So, I go back to what I have said before, can't we have both?

I wish publishers would see that there is a market for both. You can have the allegories, and you can have the spiritual warfares, and still have room for the fantasy for the sake of good fantasy.