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Fantasy and the Christian

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    1. Fantasy and the Christian A Christian evaluation of the power of fantasy and the need for discernment

    2. Defining the Terms Non-fiction: stories about real people and events (ie. biography, autobiography, news articles, etc.) Fiction: stories that come from the imagination (ie. novels, folktales, fairytales, fantasy, science fiction, comic books, mythology?) Myth : sacred stories about the divine, creation, death, the afterlife (may contain actual truth, supernatural beings, and metaphorical explanations) Fantasy / fairytale: stories about imaginary, often exotic people and places (can teach moral truths, often involve magic, clear good vs. evil)

    3. Defining the Terms The character of fantasyis that of a fiction evoking wonder and containing a substantial and irreducible element of supernatural or impossible worlds, beings, or objects. C.N. Manlove (Lecturer in English Literature, University of Edinburgh)

    4. The Power of Fantasy Instills a sense of wonder about the world Develops the imagination Provides enjoyment and an escape from an imperfect world Teaches truths about life and how to cope Helps develop a sense of right and wrong Shows good and evil for what they really are Gives hope and a vision of how life should be Gives heroes/heroines to emulate Awakens an awareness of God and the supernatural Gives a glimpse of the gospel story

    5. The Power of Fantasy wonder and the imagination To inspire child-like WONDER To inspire and develop the IMAGINATION Children respond to it (fantasy) because it activates their imagination a key to psychological maturation. Kids never encouraged to enter the fantasy world are quite literally deprived children. Richard Abanes Harry Potter, Narnia, and Lord of the Rings, p. 68

    6. The Power of Fantasy - delight The prime motive was the desire of a tale-teller to try his hand at a really long story that would hole the attention of readers, amuse them, delight them, and at times maybe excite them or deeply move them ~ Tolkien (LOTR, p. xvi)

    7. The Power of Fantasy - hope Hope: There, peeping among the cloud-wrack, Sam saw a white start twinkle for awhile. The beauty of it smote his heartand hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach. (LOTR, p. 901

    8. The Power of Fantasy - comfort By confining your child to blameless storiesin which nothing at all alarming ever happens, you would fail to banish the terrors, and would succeed in banishing all that can ennoble them or make the endurable. For in the fairy tales, side by side with the terrible figures, we find the immemorial comforters and protectors, the radiant ones ~ C.S. Lewis

    9. The Power of Fantasy - Heroes Inspiring HEROES Kids like Henry need a herocourage self- sacrificing people setting examples for all of uswho teach us to hold on a second longer (Aunt May Spiderman) I cant carry it for you, but I can carry you! (Sam - LOTR)

    10. The Power of Fantasy communicate truth Myth and fairy-story must, as all art, reflect and contain in solution elements of moral and religious truth (or error), but not explicit, not in the known form of the primary real world I believe that legends and myths are largely made of truth, and indeed present aspects of it that can only be received in this mode. Tolkien (from intro. to The Silmarillion

    11. The Power of Fantasy teaching morality / nature of evil Objective morality: Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; not are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is a mans part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house. ~ Aragorn (LOTR p. 428) Nature of Evil: The Shadow that bred them can only mock, it cannot make: not real new things of its own. I dont think it gave life to the orcs, it only ruined them and twisted them. ~ Frodo (LOTR p. 893)

    12. The power of Fantasy teach truths /morality Self-sacrifice: I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me. It must often be so, Sam, when things are in danger: some one has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them. ~ Frodo (LOTR p. 1006) Providence: But there was something else at work, beyond any design of the Ring-maker. I can put it no plainer than by saying that Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and not by its maker. In which case you also were meant to have it. And that may be and encouraging thought. ~ Gandalf (LOTR p. 54-55

    13. The Power of Fantasy longing for God (not just escapism) It would be much truer to say that fairy land arouses a longing for he knows not what. It stirs and troubles him (to his life-long enrichment) with the dim sense of something beyond his reach and, far from dulling or emptying the actual world, gives it a new dimension of depth. He does not despise real woods because he has read of enchanted woods: the reading makes all woods a little enchanted. ~ C.S. Lewis (Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories)

    14. The Power of Fantasy pointing to God I had always believed that the world involved magic: now I thought that perhaps it involved a magicianI had always felt life first as a story; and if there is a story there is a storyteller. ~ G.K Chesterton

    15. The Power of Fantasy baptize the imagination But Lewis was a man in love with imagination, and as such, he wrote fiction that imparted a real though unfocused gleam of divine truth fallen on human imagination. He used fantasy as a means of converting the reader in the same manner in which Lewis himself was first drawn to Christianity: by baptizing the imagination in the hope that the reason will follow. ~ Richard Abanes (Harry Potter, Narnia, and the Lord of the Rings p. 121-122)

    16. The Power of Fantasy teach theology The Trilemma - Logic! Why dont they teach logic at these schools! There are only three possibilities. Either your sister is telling lies, or she is mad, or she is telling the truth. You know she doesnt tell lies and it is obvious that she is not mad. For the moment then and unless any further evidence turns up, we must assume that she is telling the truth. ~ the Professor (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe p. 131)

    17. The Power of Fantasy the gospel connection Now as myth transcends thought, Incarnation transcends myth. The heart of Christianity is a myth which is also a fact. The old myth of the Dying God, without ceasing to be myth comes down from the heaven of legend and imagination to the earth of history. It happensat a particular date, in a particular place, followed by definable historical consequences. We pass from a Balder or an Osiris, dying nobody knows when or where, to a historical Person crucified under Pontius Pilate. By becoming fact it does not cease to be myth: that is the miracle. ~ C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock, p. 66-67)

    18. The gospel in The Chronicles of Narnia I did not say to myself Let us represent Jesus as He really is in our world by a Lion in Narnia; I said, Let us suppose that there were a land like Narnia and that the Son of God, as he became a Man in our world, became a Lion there, and then imagine what would happen. ~ letter to Maryland 5th graders

    19. The gospel in The Chronicles of Narnia As to Aslans other nameHas there never been anyone in this world who 1) Arrived at the same time as Father Christmas 2) Said he was the Son of the Great Emperor 3) Gave himself up for someone elses fault to be jeered at and killed by wicked people 4) Came to life again 5) Is sometimes spoken of as a Lamb?...Dont you really know His name in this world? (letter to an American girl) But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there. ~ Aslan (The Voyage of the Dawn Treader p. 541)

    20. Lord of the Rings Christian myth The Lord of the Rings is a profoundly Christian mythIn the characterization of the Hobbits, the most reluctant and the most unlikely of heroes, we see the exaltation of the humble. In the figure of Gandalf we see the archetype of an Old Testament patriarch, his staff apparently having the same power as that possessed by Moses. In his apparent death and resurrection we see him emerge as Christ-like figureThe character of Gollum is debased by his attachment to the Ring, the symbol of the sin of prideUltimately, the bearing of the Ring by Frodo, and his heroic struggle to resist the temptation to succumb to its evil powers, is akin to the Carrying of the Cross, the supreme acts of selflessnessThere is always the sense that divine providence is on the side of the Fellowship and that, ultimately, it will prevail against all the odds. ~ Joseph Pearce, author of Tolkien: Man and Myth

    21. The Power of Fantasy truth, gospel and the happy ending The peculiar quality of the joy in successful Fantasy can thus be explained as a sudden glimpse of the underlying reality or truth. It is not only a consolation for the sorrow of this world, but a satisfaction, and an answer to the question, Is it true?In the eucatastrophe (happy ending) we see in a brief vision that the answer may be greaterit may be a far-off gleam or echo of evangelium (gospel, good news.) ~ Tolkien from On Fairy-Stories

    22. The Power of Fantasy truth, gospel and the happy ending From the premise that Christianity is true it follows that the far-off glimpse of joy produced by fantasy is a glimpse of truth; that a great eucatastrophic tale like The Lord of the Rings is a gift of divine grace, an opening of the curtain that veils Heaven to earthly eyes Peter Kreeft - from The Philosophy of Tolkien

    23. Sources www.grahamaplogetics.com (go here to get a copy of the powerpoint) Harry Potter and the Bible Richard Abanes Fantasy and Your Family Richard Abanes Harry Potter, Narnia, and The Lord of the Rings What you need to know about fantasy books and movies Richard Abanes Cracking DaVincis Code James Garlow and Peter Jones The Philosophy of Tolkien Peter Kreeft The Silmarillion Tolkien Lord of the Rings Tolkien The Chronciles of Narnia C.S. Lewis The Sacred Romance Brent Curtis and John Eldridge SES website www.ses.edu