Thursday, March 22, 2007

Blasphemy or Ministry?

Guest Blogger: publisher Cynthia MacKinnon

About one year ago, a friend (and non-fiction author) questioned: How can science-fiction and Christianity be compatible? She wasn't judging, her inquiry was an honest one.

I myself have asked similar questions about the acceptance of speculative fiction in the Christian community. There is no end to the responses responses found: in one's circle of friends, at one's church, or on the internet. The following are excerpted from an online article about Christian fantasy ( from the Biblical Discernment Ministries ) :

Most true Christians would recognize fantasy, such as the movie Star Wars, as being extremely wicked (in this case, sorcery— "The Force" being equivalent to black magic and white witchcraft). Yet, apparently, when we call it "Christian," this somehow sanctifies what we do with our minds (imaginations), or what we allow our minds to entertain.

For example, one can look in any issue of the Christian Book Distributors Fiction Catalog and find the most outrageous fantasy literature, yet it is all dubbed "Christian." The following is taken from theCBD Fiction Catalog, 9/94 premier edition:
". . . now there's no more compromising for those who love Christian fiction, because you are holding the key to your next escape-from-it-all right in the palm of your hand . . . CBD's brand new Fiction Catalog? It's filled with the latest and the best
refreshing, thrilling, inspiring, wholesome fiction for you and your family."

Wholesome? The following is a sample of that which CBD considers "wholesome." [Much of this type of writing comes from medieval mysticism, which
God hates (cf. Deut. 18: 10-12).]:
(a) Millennium's Dawn, by Ed Stewart (p. 25):"June 2001. The future never seemed brighter for Dr. Evan Riderand his new bride, Shelby, as they prepare to embark on the honeymoon of their dreams. But the dream quickly becomes a nightmare as a long-buried secret shared by three college friends erupts, engulfing the couple in a sinister plot ofblackmail, terror, and betrayal."

(b) Till We Have Faces, by C. S. Lewis(p. 34): "The unlovely Orual, eldest daughter of the King of Glome, becomes so consumed by her mingled love and jealousy of her beautiful half-sister that she makes a complaint to the gods—and receives an answer she did not expect. This novel, possibly Lewis' best work and the one he considered his own favorite, is his compelling rework of the myth of Cupid and Psyche."[Sound like something you could want your children to read —about "the gods"?]

"Well," someone might say, "I'm not doing anything wicked, I'm just reading about wickedness." But does this align with godliness? There are four things about fantasy which must be considered:

I. It is Anti-Truth.
II. It Slips Into Reality.
III. It Does Not Fit True Godliness.
IV. A Love for God Will Oppose It.

These 4 points appear to have merit and certainly leave no room for wishy-washy Christianity. And, it seems that my non-Christian friend has every reason to ask the question about the compatibility between sci-fi and Christianity.

Obviously, the value (or danger) of Christian speculative fiction is fixed firmly in the beliefs of the reader. But with such a bias against spec-fic from within the sub-culture, does the genre even stand a chance? What steps can be taken to alleviate the skepticism and pull Biblical spec-fic from the shadows out into the light of the day?

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