When you are raised in the faith, there is a tendency for the truth to turn stale. Spiritual matters are not exempt from the old and wise adage that "familiarity breeds contempt." For this reason, songs that use unexpected rhymes and stories that use unexpected characters are a welcome refreshment. As G.K Chesterton noted in The Everlasting Man: "In the specially Christian case we have to react against the heavy bias of fatigue. It is almost impossible to make the facts vivid, because the facts are familiar; and for fallen men it is often true that familiarity is fatigue." (-G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man, Ignatius Press, p. 17)
It may be prudent to draw a distinction between pulp fantasy, and fantasy from deep Christian authors like Lewis or Tolkien. I had and yet have little use for the former, and for many years grouped works such as The Chronicles of Narnia or The Lord of The Rings into this same category, considering the whole business a profound waste of time. In this manner I unknowingly discarded the apple with the worm.
Christian teachers I respect have various perspectives on this question. Jonathan Lindvall refers to Tolkien's trilogy as "literary junk food," seeming to imply that fantasy is fantasy - and an exercise in futility. On the other side you have Peter Kreeft, who draws heavily from Tolkien and Lewis and, referring to The Lord of The Rings, observes matter-of-factly that "the book is obviously inspired; it's got God's fingerprints all over it." (Some of Kreeft's excellent material on Tolkien include this lecture and this book.)
It seems to me that fantasy, far from detracting from reality, actually reinforces it. It enables us to step away from the din and dust of the world enough to view it with new eyes. Some perhaps have been led astray by drawing incorrect or unintended analogies from fantasy, but the same could be said of the Book of Revelation.
It is curious to me that those who take issue with Narnia or The Lord of The Rings almost universally embrace John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress as good solid Christian literature. I do not see a wide difference between these works and Bunyan's, in terms of fantastical content. Perhaps it has something to do with the explicit use of Witches, or Wizards, or Goblins, or Elves. Perhaps it is preferable to use Demons, Fiends, evil Giants, and wild Beasts.
It's all the same war.
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