Young Readers and the Allure of Fantasy – Part II
- Monday, April 10, 2006
Still, Davis has a code of ethics when dealing with the supernatural in his writing. “In my 'Dragons in Our Midst' series, I had real kids in real time with a real Christ, so blending reality with fantasy and staying within a biblically allowable framework was very difficult.” Davis chose to follow stringent guidelines as he developed the supernatural elements of the plot, a decision he felt was especially important because he mixed a “real” world with a fantasy world.*
Davis asserts that writers who create a completely imaginary world have more freedom with fantasy content. He uses Donita Paul, author of the "DragonKeeper" series as an example. “Donita wrote in a completely different world with a different set of rules, so she didn’t have to wrestle with the issues I did. She maintained a biblical morality and worldview, but she could be freer with a number of fantasy elements. She could have a good wizard and magic within the guidelines. I could not.
“A simple test of good fantasy is whether or not it reflects established truth,” adds Davis. “The fantasy story is a conduit. It doesn’t pretend to be true or the source of truth; it only wants to paint a picture of truth in a symbolic format.”
Sharing symbolic truth is a goal for Randall Mortenson, author of the "Landon Snow" series written for children ages 9 to 12. “I wanted to combine my two greatest loves: the literature of the Bible and the literature of fantasy.” The "Snow" books, which tackle such theological issues as sovereignty, grace, good, and evil, portray the young protagonist, Landon, as he is called into adventure after reading Scripture.
“The adventure for the Christian begins when we heed Jesus' call to ‘follow me,’” says Mortenson. “My books illustrate that there is One who is above our adventures who knows the bigger purpose.” In Mortenson’s series, the protagonist, Landon, also confronts evil and learns that part of the journey is seeking to follow God's path even amid shadows. “To follow God’s path, we need His light to show us the way,” adds Mortenson, who seeks to point kids back to the Bible when he writes.
Paul’s book, "DragonSpell," follows its main character, Kale, as she discovers the love of her creator, and the acceptance of her savior – but it’s all in symbolic language. “I don’t spell out the Gospel or preach through my stories. I want to stir up an interest and send the reader on his own quest to find God through Jesus Christ,” says Paul.
Of course, not all fantasy is written with Christian symbolism. That doesn’t necessarily mean there aren’t redemptive themes within the story. Davis encourages parents to test the literature against the principles he’s mentioned and talk about its themes with their children. “A parent who is well-versed in how to explain fantasy concepts can help children discern between fantasy magic and magic that is condemned in Scripture.”
According to Davis, the parent’s role in all of life includes giving their children vivid illustrations that relate to the bedrock of spiritual truth, the Bible. “It is up to the reader and his or her parental guides to relate the images of fantasy to reality. The fantasy story is powerful because it paints indelible pictures that might not readily appear in other writings. As the reader remembers the pictures of good fantasy, he remembers the spiritual connections and the reality behind it. Since Jesus used this kind of teaching, it would be a tragedy to abandon the genre simply because it has been taken into dark places. I believe it’s time to redeem fantasy from the darkness and bring it back to the light where it belongs.”
Recently on Books
Have something to say about this article? Leave your comment via Facebook below!
Listen to Your Favorite Pastors
Add Crosswalk.com content to your siteBrowse available content