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Christian fantasy

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Alexander Knight, Sep 30, 2020.

  1. Alexander Knight

    Alexander Knight Scribe

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    I don't see a lot of Naria type fantasy out there, where the reader can learn something about Christianity via a fantasy story, so I'm thinking about writing some.
    I'm pondering creating a world based on real biblical history. My concern is that I'll need to use fiction to fill in some of the gaps in my back story and I'm afraid the readers might take that fiction as truth since the rest of the story would be truthful (like folks did with The Da Vinci Code).
    The goal of the book would be to show how a true Christian exemplifies faith in daily life, so I don't want the reader to walk away with bad theology from the book.
    Is this something I should be concerned about?
     
  2. Lynea

    Lynea Troubadour

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    There are actually several fantasy stories like this and are worth researching. C.S. Lewis and Tolkien are (of course) the most obvious ones. If you're looking for a more 'grounded' example, Ted Dekker has a series called The Circle. He's good at basing his stories on the Bible without confusing readers or 'da vinci coding' his stuff. You might want to look him up. Another title that might give you some reference is actually an audiobook called Affabel by John Bevere. As far as I know, it's a really accurate Christian parallel-- but it's only available as audio.

    In my own opinion, I totally understand your concern, but I think you'll find that Christian authors will take the liberties they need in order to make their stories work. Go ahead and build your world, flesh out your draft. When the time comes, send it to a few friends and see if the idea is too dense or if it's too obvious. I would be happy to check back in on your project. :)
     
  3. Ned Marcus

    Ned Marcus Sage

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    I wouldn't worry too much about it. As Lynea says, write it first, and then check for potential problems. You have to assume a certain intelligence in your readers. If the book is marketed as Christian fantasy, then I think most readers would expect some fantastical elements.
     
  4. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Auror

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    What Lynea and Ned Marcus said I think is right on track.

    An interesting tale to look up some time is To Reign in Hell by Steven Brust. It might give you an idea of something a little different than C.S. Lewis as well.
     
  5. S J Lee

    S J Lee Sage

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    People who "exemplify Christian virtues" properly ALL the time are probably very boring to read about. If you like Narnia, remember the younger boy has to give into temptation for the story to happen.
     
  6. Ned Marcus

    Ned Marcus Sage

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    And very rare!
     
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  7. Alexander Knight

    Alexander Knight Scribe

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    I would agree. I find the most interesting characters are the ones where we get to see them mature and develop.
    And that is how real people practice their faith, imperfectly. Seeing a heart truly dedicated to the Lord but that person's faith imperfect acted out is something we don't get to see much in real life, except, perhaps, in our closest friends.
     
  8. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    Honestly, I am not sure this can be achieved. The quest of a Christian seeking to understand their faith, as with all who are seeking answers, is to look for what is true. A deep dive into Christianity and its stories, will show things that have meanings on top of meanings on top of meanings, and the journey of discovery is always one of seeing something as true one way, and then later finding it is true in another (and usually) deeper way. I am not sure that can be exhausted, in spite of our best efforts. If the work is able to tap into things that are true, and compelling, and does so through the vehicle of Christian understanding, then it will resonate because of that. If it is untrue, it will not stand long term scrutiny.

    I think any truth seeker who has read the Davinci Code may have enjoyed the exercise, and even appreciate the possible evidence, but must stop short of calling it true. As with much that happened way in the past, and has questionable evidence, we cannot really arrive at certainty.

    My guess, you will begin this with one understanding and leave it with another.
     
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  9. Alexander Knight

    Alexander Knight Scribe

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    I agree with your description of the Christian journey. But my fear is that the book may add confusion to those just entering the faith or starting to consider it. A book like this wouldn't rattle a mature Christian, I agree. But it's the on-the-fringe or baby Christians that concern me. I wouldn't want to cause a brother (or potential brother) to stumble over a work of fiction.
     
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  10. elemtilas

    elemtilas Inkling

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    Or to put it another way, more interesting than you might think! People who exemplify Christian virtues are essentially spiritual paladins. St. Mother Theresa. Pretty boring daily life. She prayed a lot. She took care of a bunch of sick poor people. St. Padre Pio. Pretty boring daily life. He prayed a lot. He took care of a bunch of sick poor people. He seemed to be asleep quite a lot.

    Don't be fooled by the mundane! Focus the story on the supermundane. We don't read books or watch films to learn how Elves manage their waste water or how Aslan brushes his teeth. We're in the story for the adventure! So rather, consider the story of how St. Mother Theresa faced down something like five decades of utter spiritual darkness and emptiness and divine abandonment. After her death, her detractors danced with glee on reading her correspondence, calling her a hypocrite and a false saint. But look at her face! That woman is a spiritual warrior and a conqueror!

    I think the most exciting thing St Padre Pio ever did in his mundane life was smoke an occasional cigarette and crack a couple jokes. So, look in stead how he was stigmatised: he bore the wounds of Christ on his body. His powers lay in the spiritual realm, a knight in resplendent armour fighting against demons. He was a hero of virtue.

    All depends on what kind of story you want to tell, Alexander Knight!
     
  11. Alexander Knight

    Alexander Knight Scribe

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    Very true.
    Showing a character to be a hero of virtue and keeping the story interesting is a lot harder to write than writing a fight scene. But then, I've always enjoyed a good challenge!
     
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  12. S J Lee

    S J Lee Sage

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    I'm willing to be informed on Mother T's ups and downs... but I like stories where people are more complicated than simply virtuous . . .or rather, where their definition of virtue is not what people expect. Where what they actually stand for is not easy for people to understand because they follow an inner code.

    EG - Mother T didn't really "look after" sick people at all...she gave dying poor people a bed or a floor of some sort to die on in a hospice, rather than a hospital. The carers were not nurses or doctors, but merely nuns with little medical training of any sort. I'm willling to be corrected on this if I am wrong. This does not make her a fraud. Others made her out to be something she was not, someone who tried to heal the sick - something she did little or nothing about. If she were asked to explain why she didn't try to ERADICATE poverty in any way, I think she would not have said it was impossible, or not her job, but would have quoted Jesus - "There will always be poor people among you." IE, don't even bother trying, it would offend the role of poverty in God's plan. This doesn't make me hate her or love her, it makes her INTERESTING and different.

    eg, Jesus driving the money changers out of the temple - a great many people have no idea what that was really about. Basically, the Old Testament rules about making an offering in exchange for the forgiveness of sin, which had special allowances for the poor to make only very cheap sacrifices, had been abused with levels of extra costs - forgiveness of sin cost way too much, and the poor could not afford it any more. There are people who think that story is about some sort of "anti-corporate Occupy Wall St" Jesus, that THAT is the virtue the story is about. The virtue is actually about forgiveness of sin and fidelity to the spirit of scripture - virtues that most people now hearing the story do not think are virtues at all, because they do not even believe in sin at all, or that scripture is more than superstition. They would probably not think the real Jesus very virtuous at all, but think him a crazy fanatic...?
     
  13. S J Lee

    S J Lee Sage

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    or, eg, the iconoclasts of Byzantium who rioted and destroyed the sacred icons in the churches - not because they were aggressive Dawkins-style atheists trying to liberate men from superstition, but because scripture said not to have graven images.

    OR read the Father Brown stories by GK Chesterton - I love "The Mourner of Marne." A man has hidden himself away for years in a house, talking to noone, all because he killed a man years before in a (legal?) duel. Fr Brown comes to hear his confession, and the locals disapprove, thinking Fr Brown's message that the man has committed a sin is unfair, it was a fair fight etc. He should not be encouraging the man to think of himself as a sinner at all.

    By the end of the story, people realise that the man CHEATED in the duel, and murdered an unarmed man. They are furious, and Brown refuses to join in their condemnation. After all, he has heard the man's confession and forgiven him. "The man is a bounder! I hate him now! Why did we ever have sympathy for him? There are limits to human forgiveness!
    "But no limits on God's. You think yourselves morally superior? A forgiving people? No, you only forgive sins you do not think are sins at all."

    Much more depth to it presented this way...? What IS virtue?

    As Steven Pressfield had his Spartan warriors argue in Gates of Fire - should a warrior spare a beaten foe? Is mercy a virtue of men or of women? Of peace or war? Is it a virtue at all?

    Or as Moorcock put it in one of his Corum stories - the immortal evil Chaos champion Gaynor is beaten and his mask removed, exposing his face, the one thing that banishes him to another plane where he starts all over again fighting for Chaos. Corum sees his face is a mass of wriggling worms and maggots, Gaynor is in agony, cursed for all eternity with suffering. An infinite punishment for a finite crime. Corum feels a moment of pity.
    "It seemed the ultimate in justice. Or injustice. For a moment, they seemed one and the same."

    But perhaps I digress . . .
     
  14. elemtilas

    elemtilas Inkling

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    It's just a different kind of fight scene! Think more along the lines of Star Wars Jedi fights and less Conan the Barbarian.
     
  15. Alexander Knight

    Alexander Knight Scribe

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    I see what you are saying. And twists in a story are more interesting than a predictable one, I agree. And some stories do lend themselves to that.
    Hmm... I could take the world view of something and twist it into the truth. That could be interesting. Hmm...
     
  16. Alexander Knight

    Alexander Knight Scribe

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    True. It's a fight with spiritual weapons rather than worldly.
    I guess I'm more accustomed to describing worldly things than spiritual (I wonder what that says about me?)
     
  17. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    You are not responsible for someone else's journey.

    Those tales that shape all us Christain types have themselves been subject to slight alterations, and edits over many years, and are not all inclusive of the entirety of the revalation of God's plan. Even the Bible went through a selection process as to what would and what would not be inlucded, and was based only on works that had been existent at the time. Which is to say, there is always room for new stories, and new methods to reach those seeking faith oreinted resources. If you are a faith based person, and you are feeling the calling to write in this manner, dont feel constrained by the learned analysis of biblical truth from those who believe they know, write the best tale you can, and trust that God will not let his message go stray.

    While I can understand that individual preference may be for less virtuous, or more stuggling, characters, I do not agree with the notion that they are extra hard, or less engaging by virtue of being virtuous. All things can be lifted up by the artist inside of us.
     
  18. elemtilas

    elemtilas Inkling

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    As a writer, it might be indicative that you consider expanding your repertoire.
     
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  19. Alexander Knight

    Alexander Knight Scribe

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    True.
    I enjoy writing apologetics as well. And I've had this growing desire to start a blog on what daily life should look like for a follower of Jesus. I think this is additional confirmation that I need to write more along those lines.
    Thanks!
     
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  20. The problem is that she had no ability to do those things, to heal or alleviate poverty. The alternative for the particular people she did care for wasn't to go to hospitals, it was to die in the streets. Her intent was to be better than nothing, which is the most one can do without medical training. She didn't have the financial or political ability to end the poverty of those around her. What's impressive about her is that she acted in an individually optimal way.
     
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