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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Changing Christian Attitudes Toward Fantasy

Hey all, short post just to let you know, I have a new Article up at Speculative Faith. If you haven't visited there, click over there. It's worth your while. At least a dozen Fantasy authors write articles for SpecFaith. There are also writer resources, interviews, reviews, and much more. My article today is:

Changing Christian Attitudes Toward Fantasy

Hope you like it, and hope it encourages you to take action.


16 comments:

Galactic Overlord-In-Chief said...

Very good article, I always look forward to them. My local Christian bookstore actually is very good about carrying fantasy books. They have Bryan Davis' books, yours, L.B. Graham, Donita Paul, but they don't have Christopher Hopper's books, at least not yet.

I still don't have Rise of the Wyrm Lord or The Final Storm, so I'll have something to go pick up over there during May or June.

And hey, you get to be counterprogramming for Harry Potter? You've certainly reached the top!

- Jason

galacticoverlordinchief.blogspot.com

WayneThomasBatson said...

Jason, I have to admit, as much as some Christians see red over Harry Potter, I'm actually grateful for their success. Now we have a generation who is wide open to fantasy. And we have boys reading more than they ever did.

Even if Harry Potter turns out to be something evil or even counter Christian (which I don't necessarily believe), God has cool methods of taking what was intended for evil and brining about a greater good.

Galactic Overlord-In-Chief said...

Yeah, I didn't mean it like, "Oh Harry Potter is bad and isn't it great that you're countering it." I just thought it was cool that some bookstore owners put you in that same category.

I actually haven't read any of the HP books yet. I got through a few pages of the first book, but time sort of intervened and I didn't get back to it. I don't really have a strong opinion about HP, though I have enjoyed the movies.

Anyway, back to your regularly scheduled program. :)

- Jason

everlastingscribe said...

Very nicely said. I know one of the reasons that the owner of the store where I work was not keen on fantasy is the secular stuff she'd seen put a bad taste in her mouth. Thankfully she's willing to listen to the staff and gives us 'comp' copies of things to read. When we go nuts over an author she brings the book in, and if it sells well, then she stocks it regularly. I can understand being wary of Fantasy, but not giving it a chance at all?!

C'mon authors like Francine Rivers (who writes brilliantly) and Liz Curtis Higgs write books that deal with rape, with prostitution, with barbaric gladiatorial combat, and with the self-righteousness that can strangle the life out of a church. If Christian bookstore owners are worried about what they are bringing into their stores, they need to take a long hard look at the ''contemporary'' and ''historical'' departments. Fantasy is tame by comparison.

Amy Browning said...

I really love the proactive ideas in this article. It's not just Christian Spec authors and readers sitting around and wishing more stores would carry more fantasy. It's acting to get it done.

I'll try my best to hit up my local Christian Book Store, though admittedly, I rarely frequent it due to the lack of books that peak my interest. So many Christian books are in-your-face preachy, that it turns me off. This is one of the reasons I was so psyched about The Door Within. I actually didn't know it was a Christian book until I asked you through email during the process of signing up for your newsletter. Originally, I found it in the library, then ordered all three on Amazon.

Actually, Amazon was the one who emailed me about your newsletter in the first place. Through all that, I was able to become a part of your new (at the time) blog and the rest is history.

Just my two cents about the Harry Potter thing. I'm a HUGE fan and I'm even an editor for one of the two biggest fan sites in existence. It's called MuggleNet.com and I edit the Editorials section. I've seen so many people's opinions on HP that I can truly say, not a one has ever even hinted at any occult association. In fact, I've had the pleasure of reading some fantastic opinions and ideas from fellow Christians who are also fantasy fans.

The market exists, we just need to be out there making it known. Harry Potter is almost over. The seventh and final book comes out in July. There will be a wide open market full of hungry fantasy fans. Let's get the news out that filling that void will not be so hard.

Kel said...

Wayne, I love your thought-provoking articles over at Speculative Faith. I live in a small town, and the Christian bookstore located here is not known for having a great selection of middle-grade/YA books, so I don't visit it often. I happened to be in there last December looking for a last-minute Christmas gift for my mother-in-law, and discovered Bryan Davis's books, which in turn led me to your The Door Within trilogy and blog. (via a link from his website).

I've been trying to figure out for a while now how to blend my Christian faith with fantasy fiction, and now I have two excellent role models. Thank you!

I never would have guessed that what I was looking for all along was just 5 miles from my house! God works in mysterious ways, indeed, and when we least expect it.

Kel

WayneThomasBatson said...

You are so right about God working in mysterious ways. Cliche, yes, but true nonetheless. His ways are beyond us. And I'm convinced that one of the ways He works in through the stories of his people--even fantasy stories. Perhaps, especially fantasy stories because they force readers to envision another world and supernatural interventions--things that are important to Christians.

PatShand said...

It's always confused me why some Christians oppose Harry Potter. I'm Christian, and a member of the Presbyterian Church--my congregation supports Harry Potter, and I think it's one of the best stories currently around. It teaches friendship and the portrayal of the characters are very true to life. The whole "magic is bad" thing goes right over my head. Even if the Bible says "magic is bad", the Bible also explicitly states "thou shalt not kill." How can some Christians support fantasy books that have killing (nearly every fantasy book has a bit of this, esp. high fantasy), while berating those who have use of magic? To me, it's all fiction and--imho--it's a bit close minded to just write it off because of use of magic.

Not commenting on anyone's previous comments, just adding my two shiny pennies.

everlastingscribe said...

Fantasy and Sci-Fi have always been bully-pulpits, both for Christians and for secular authors, it's true. Putting topics considered too hot or taboo in another setting on another world makes the reader instinctively lower their guard. It's the ''back door'' of the audience's mind, and like any good guest authors should bring something with them, respect the furnishings, and remember to wipe their feet.

One of the objections I've had personally to Christian fantasy is- that like the majority of Christian books-it's sub-par.

There is this hideous mindset that "If we slap God's name in there a couple of times then it's Christian and Christians will buy it and it doesn't matter if the pace is terrible and the characters are cardboard thin-it's Christian, Christians are stupid, they'll buy it and be happy."

That is not respecting the furnishings.

Then there's the "Christians are so dull that they won't get the point unless we graphically and repeatedly show them just how evil the villain is"

That's not wiping feet.

And finally there's the "The deadline's coming too soon so let's kill off all non essential characters, set up for the sequel and move on."

That's not bringing something.

With The Door Within I found a brilliant story, written by a gifted man who happens to be a Christian. I found an author, who respected his audience and engaged and challenged his readers.

I don't just want more Christian Fantasy authors and books, I want more like that.

Amy Browning said...

Amen Scribe!

Eloquently put. I whole-heartedly agree. You've said exactly what I couldn't put into words.

Great comment!

Brett said...

Speaking of Potter....I was reading this book that lists a whole bunch if good reads for teens...it's an older book. It had Potter in there, and even though it has a wizard school as it's setting, it states that it's still just a book that had good fighting evil, with traits like friendship, honesty, loyalty, etc.
I think I might give them a try someday (thus turning my parents into basket cases!!) :)
I think we should try to read these kinds of books, so at least if we DO end up shunning them, we've got a reason and we can say that we read them.

Amy Browning said...

Excellent idea Brett! I find the arguements against books that the arguer hasn't read to be completely absurd. Read it before you condemn it. If after reading it, you can back up your claims with actual text, then your opinion is absolutely valid. If not, then it's time to reconsider why you felt so strongly in the first place.

Becca Johnson said...

Our Christian bookstore doesn't carry many fantasy or science fiction books at all, but that's not really surprising since they don't even carry many fiction books. It takes them a long time to get new books.

I tagged you on my blog for "8 Random Facts." Have fun!

Becca Johnson

everlastingscribe said...

Just wanted to let you guys know I put up some tips for making headway at the Christian bookstores this month--thought it might be helpful having some inside info as it were! Check out 'tips'

Pixy said...

Hey Scribe! That goes along perfectly with Becky's challenge at .

Wayne, I love your question/answer video with Christopher! Great idea.

Blessings for the tour and I'm looking forward to hearing part two of you post on Spec Faith.

Pixy said...

Ahk, my link got all freaky. :S

Sorry.