When I tell people I write Christian Fantasy, I often get an odd look. “You write stories about creatures like dragons, ogres and orcs with magic and wizards and they’re Christian stories? Is that even possible?”
After all, Christianity is all about Truth. The one undeniable Truth. So therefore it can’t have anything to do with make-believe or such forbidden things as magic, right?
Yet, for these same people will readily admit to enjoying reading or watching C. S. Lewis’ and J. R. R. Tolkien’s stories.
So where is the disconnect? Why can’t we write Christian fantasy? Doesn’t it tell the same truth?
Is there any difference in creating a story about a woman marginalized by men, who seeks to control her own life in the mean streets of LA or in a fictional kingdom where succumbing to evil shrivels your body and turns your skin black? Can’t a loving heavenly Father draw both women? Won’t either woman find a meaningful and joyful life only when turning control of their lives over to their Creator?
Which of theses stories speaks truth? A firefighter seeking to earn forgiveness through the lives he saves, or a man raised in the privilege of the palace, seeking to earn forgiveness by repaying one bar maid’s kindness and raising an orphan girl?
Truth is truth no matter what bow it’s wrapped in. We all live in a wicked fallen world where every heart needs hope, love, and a purpose. Those things are true if they are written from in a galactic ship hurtling through space, on the back of a dragon, or behind the wheel of a Beemer.
Yes, in my opinion, we can be Christians and write fantasy. Some readers may never step inside a church, but they can find a picture of God’s love between our pages. In the stories fantasy readers love so much of dragons, mages, and magical power, truth can be woven to introduce them to the Source of all Truth.
Thankfully, Christian Fantasy is becoming more widely accepted. This summer I attended Realm Makers, a conference for Christian writers of science fiction and fantasy. Over just the past 5 years it has grown from a handful of attenders to over 200. While I’ve attended other Christian writing conferences, Realm Makers was completely different. From an awards dinner attended in costume, to a Nerf gun battle, to a martial arts specialist teaching us how to write better fight scenes, RM is unique.
I learned new things about myself. Jim Rubart challenged attendees to come up with our 3 favorite movies. He said through those he would tell us the core message of our life. I gave him mine: Princess Bride, Ladyhawk, and Beauty and the Beast, figuring he’d say the theme involved impossible love stories. What he told me shook me, and took several days to digest.
“You see what can’t be seen. You see behind the mask.”
What? Really? But in looking at all my completed novels, it was there. In considering which of my students I gravitate to during the year, yep, it’s there too.
I had a mentoring meeting with another person, to try and work out a glitch in one work in progress (WIP). While he couldn’t help with my specific need he also spoke into my life. “You are very content with where you are and what you are doing right now. Don’t loose that.”
Yes, I love writing. But for someone else to see that in a five-minute conversation—that’s huge.
I took my writing challenge to another mentor. I have struggled with my villain in one WIP. I had attempted to create a believable backstory and give him a reason for being the way he was; I even made him the hero of his own story. Still, he came out sounding like the black-cloaked nemesis of Dudley Do Right, twisting his moustache and cackling. The mentor asked me what his goal was, and how he felt when he didn’t get it. In our five-minute conversation, I suddenly heard my villain loud and clear. His goal was the same as mine when I’ve told my students the same thing multiple times. Yikes!
Fantasy writing is an extension of who I am and who God created me to be. I will speak His truth be it from the mouths of dragons or kings.