Quote Originally Posted by Tinuviel View Post
I'm a huge fan of J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. They both had Christian worldviews and were able to write fantasy. My question is:

As a Christian, how do you write fantasy without a deity? Or if you have a deity, how do you write it sensitively without having to "create a character" for your god and treading on the edge of blasphemy?

Has anyone else had this problem? I greatly admire the two authors I just mentioned, and think they are good examples of people who had this balance; any suggestions on how to FIND that balance?

I've pretty much given up fantasy writing, because I can't find a way to do it respectfully.
Hello, Tinuviel! I'd be glad to see if I can help you with your question!

I understand your plight perfectly. It can be very difficult for Christian who are writers to write story depicting something related to their faith without sounding preachy or without getting bogged down in questionable theological stances. I see your point completely. I have read two Christian book series which were, in hindsight, perfectly horrid (I loved them both when I first read them, but in retrospective have changed my opinion.)

With fantasy of the type characterized by the works of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, one must keep in mind two things.

First, these esteemed gentlemen were accomplished scholars of literature who thoroughly understood the Christian religion and related subjects which helped them to interpret their faith in a unique, brilliant manner. (As a useful note, Tolkien never intended for LOTR to be taken as a Christian allegory. He personally hated allegory and had a jocular rivalry with his pal Lewis over the legitimacy of allegory as a literary tool.)

The second thing to remember may be a matter of personal opinion, but must be remembered nonetheless: "Christian" is not a genre. There are only stories of specific genres with Christians in them. Attempts to write Christianized versions of LOTR or Star Trek and the like almost never end well.

If you want to write fantasy, but would like to insert Christian elements into it, I will be glad to tell you that such a feat is not impossible. Just don't write the story in the same manner as one might write a tract.

Going back to Lewis's example with the Chronicles of Narnia (I absolutely love those books, BTW), he wrote his story as an allegory. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is an allegory for the basic story of Christianity. But never once in that whole series do the words "God," "Jesus," or "Church," appear. None of the characters are explicitly stated to be members of any variety of religion, and that's what makes it work. Just imagine if, say, Lucy Pevensie, were portrayed as a devoted Sunday School child. What to do then when presented with Aslan, who Lewis explicitly wanted to be understood to be an allegory of Jesus? Or suppose that Aslan commanded the Narnians to set up a church or temple for the purpose of worshiping him? Or what if Eustace were portrayed as an avowed atheist? Do you see the problem?

Now, it would be the height of unoriginal writing to attempt to create a fantasy story which is a Christian allegory. I do not suggest doing that, and I don't think such a thing can be done nearly as good as Lewis did even if it weren't so well known as it is today. The solution, therefore, is to write a fantasy story which is chiefly a good fantasy story with Christian characters in it. Maybe your main character gets thrown into a weird, alternate dimension where what amounts to paganism is the norm. I can easily imagine your character going up against some evil god of death or something, and your character needs to come to terms with the idea that there's a big difference between gods and God. That would certainly interesting.

Anyway, I sincerely wish you the very best of luck. Cheerio!