Incorporating God Into Fantasy

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  • #36802
    Julia
    @julia

    Hey there!

    I am a fantasy writer, and I love fantasy. The amazing imposibleness of it is really awesome to write about. But I am having trouble with figuring out how to incorporate God into my stories that also include dragons, swords, and magic. Is it okay to do this? And what is the best way to go about it? (Without ruining the theme of God or the magicalness of fantasy)

    Thanks!

    #36855
    Elizabeth
    @elizabeth

    Have you ever read any of Wayne Thomas Batson’s books? Most of them, particularly the Sword in the Stars, manages to incorporate God into the story, by way of using either a specific name of God, or a specific attribute of His.

    Others may disagree, but my personal opinion is that, in Christian fantasy, the most important thing is portraying God accurately, as a just yet loving God who looks out for his people. How you choose to portray that is ultimately up to you. I don’t see a problem with using magic in Christian fantasy, as long as the consequences of using such magic are shown.

    INTP. Writer of fantasy and sci-fi. Wannabe artist. Anime geek. Merakian.

    #36857
    Daeus Lamb
    @daeus-lamb

    @julia To make God alive in your story and keep the magicalness of fantasy, start with the magicalness of God.

    😀
    👕👍
    👖 🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢

    #36941
    Evelyn
    @evelyn

    @daeus-lamb What a good answer!

    Yes. There is a magic all around us that turns caterpillars into butterflies and turns one small seed into a towering tree.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 4 months ago by Evelyn.
    #37227
    Samuel
    @samuel

      @julia I struggle with that as well, I love magic but I have to work with what I believe, and that causes problems. What I did was created something called a “Panthiverse” (copyrights). The story basically goes that there were eleven “Great Beings”, i.e. gods, in the beginning, and they each created a universe and an “Infinity” (what we would call heaven). But this posed problems because God is the only god, so I made it to where Great Beings only have power in their own universes and Infinities. Which sounds like I put a limit on God’s power but I really didn’t because the other universes have different laws of nature, different principles. I may even have to give God power in other universes just to stay on the safe side…

      Where magic comes in is that each universe has a source of magic, large gemstones about as big as your head bestowed by the Beings. God was the only one to withhold this from his creation, so when humans use magic it is invoking the supernatural powers of Satan, so he doesn’t approve of it. It took quite a bit of brainstorming.

      But yeah, I totally feel you on this. Making sure our fantasy lines up with our faith is a huge struggle. A good idea would be to specify what your magic really is, whether it’s demon-conjuring stuff, a science, or even if it’s calling on the powers of angels (hey, random idea.).

      No one reads these anyway

      #40750
      Martin Detwiler
      @karthmin

      @julia I have struggled with this in my fantasy as well, but at the end of the day a few considerations have given me a better idea of how to approach this:

      First, you can’t avoid this question. After trying to dance around this question for a few years, I realized that I cannot simply avoid this issue altogether by writing my fantasy in such a way that no deity comes into it at all. To do so would be to create characters that are not fully human, because they do not interact with the divine on any level (whether belief of some kind, or denial of one).

      Second, while God should be there, He doesn’t have to be The Biggest Thing in your story. I know that sounds wrong, but keep reading. The reason I say it that way is because my temptation is to think that if I have God in my fantasy, then it needs to be super clear and I need to be super careful that I don’t give anyone the wrong impression and everything needs to…

      No.

      Think of Tolkien’s works. The idea or concept of God is remarkably lacking in both the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. And yet with that said, he managed to write one of the most thoroughly Christian fantasies out there to this day (personal opinion alert). While religion is a big part of being human, and what our characters believe about it one way or the other goes a long way towards making them who they are, it can be easy to get caught up in making sure that our portrayals of God in our fantasy universes are perfect. But if our themes are thoroughly saturated in Christian truths, there won’t be a hole in our writing, even if we don’t directly address or include God by name.

      Now. I have to be sure to clarify that the world of Middle-Earth definitely has a God. If you have read the Silmarillion, you know that the beginning of that book contains some of the most beautiful and rich imageries about God, creation, and history that I have ever come across in a non-devotional setting. It is simply stunning. And that is the greater context out of which The Lord of the Rings springs – which is what gives it its power. Tolkien didn’t write without a God in his fantasy. Perhaps He was never mentioned by name in the Lord of the Rings, but He is present throughout. It could even by argued that by not directly mentioning God, Tolkien was more free to explore Christian themes through masterful storytelling; I believe he did so in such a way that pointed to God almost more clearly than if he had written it explicitly into the story.

      Ultimately, whether you choose to describe/focus on God in your fantasy works or not, He must be present in your mind as the writer. Even if it never enters your stories, go back in your mind and imagine the creation of your world as if God did it. The God of this world, in all His perfections. Because remember, we are sub-creators. We are not creating our own little worlds, over which we are gods. Rather, we are exercising our imaginations within the context of an already well-established reality: God’s reality. And so nothing in our worlds should make any sense without Him; just as He holds together the fabric of our existence, so, in a way, He ought to hold together the fabric of our imagined realities. The existence of right and wrong, the horror and twisting nature of evil, the theme of self-sacrifice, the theme of purpose/fore-ordination, hope, good triumphing over impossible forces of evil, the power and nature of love, all of these and many more are themes and truths that make no sense in a world without God.

      At the end of the day, the level to which you include God directly in your stories depends on the story itself: the themes you are trying to address, the characters within the story, and the cultural/religious setting of your story.

      But one thing is certain: every story that every Christian writes should be written with God in the backdrop – even if He is visible only in silhouette. I believe that the best storytelling has the potential to give readers an experience of the truth that shouts more loudly about the fact of God’s existence than the clearest sermonizing portrayal of Him ever could.

      +++

      Sorry to soapbox. Hope that helps!?

      -Karthmin

      myths don't die

      #41240
      Wonderland7
      @wonderland7

        Hi! I struggle with the same thing when it comes to incorporating God into fantasy stories.  It doesn’t help that there are hardly any Christian fantasies out there, so there aren’t a whole lot of examples to go off of.

        As everyone else has already said, probably the best way to incorporate God into you stories is weave His attributes into it. Weaving His attributes into it is sure to bring your story depth and life, as well as bringing God glory through your story. ( Hey, I rhymed! 😉

        Another way that I’ve seen others do to put God into their stories is include Him in there, but call Him by another name. For example, I’ve been reading these Christian fantasy stories, The Old Tree series by Tricia Martin, that has God and Jesus playing major roles in her books, but under different names. They are still the Father and the Son, just under a different name. C.S. Lewis does this also, giving Jesus the name of Aslan in his series, The Chronicles of Narnia.

        And lastly, what I’ve been doing for my own fantasy story is mention that the land is ruled by a Higher Authority, or make comments within it about there being a God who rules the land, while not directly mentioning God Himself. Those are subtle hints about God, without becoming too preachy about Him.

        I hope this helps you! God bless!!

        "If life were short, where would all the adventures be?"
        - anonymous

        "We're all mad here."

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