Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christian Authors' Takes on Fantasy

After a short break with the post, "In the Aftermath of NaNoWriMo," we're back with the series on Faith and Fantasy. Today's post is a collection of quotes from famous Christian authors regarding writing, Christianity, and fantasy.

First, let's begin with J.R.R. Tolkien, widely regarded as the father of modern fantasy. He had this to say about fantasy/"myth":
“We have come from God, and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Indeed, only by myth-making, only by becoming 'sub-creator' and inventing stories, can Man aspire to the state of perfection that he knew before the Fall. Our myths may be misguided, but they steer, however shakily, towards the true harbour.”
Francis Schaeffer, a Christian theologist and apologist, had this to say of the imagination required to write fantasy. 
“The Christian is the really free man – he is free to have imagination. This too is our heritage. The Christian is the one whose imagination should fly beyond the stars.”
The prolific historical fantasy author Stephen R. Lawhead says the following of stories: 
“Perhaps it is how we are made: perhaps words of truth reach us best through the heart, and stories and songs are the language of the heart.”

Finally, let me conclude with a powerful word and warning on "creating" fantasy from C.S. Lewis.
"'Creation' as applied to human authorship seems to me to be an entirely misleading term. We rearrange elements He has provided. There is not a vestige of real creativity de novo in us. Try to imagine a new primary colour, a third sex, a fourth dimension, or even a monster which does not consist of bits and parts of existing animals stuck together. Nothing happens. And that surely is why our works never mean to others quite what we intended: because we are recombining elements made by Him and already containing His meanings."

Any thoughts on these quotes? What is the difference between "sub-creating" and "creating"? Have you seen the distinction in your own writing?


  1. I like this a lot. These are feel good quotes that help a writer to soar. That spoil-sport Lewis! I like his quote the best. He really hit the nail on the head.

  2. I loved Lewis' quote, too! It was unexpected, but the more I thought about it, the more true it was--I really can't imagine anything completely outside of my experience.

    Thanks for the comment!

  3. These are great quotes, Sienna. I agree with Francis - as Christians, our imaginations should be more free than any others!

  4. Thanks for your comment, Melody! I completely agree. Our imaginations should be going wild--and yet wild with a purpose. Our dreams fly to the stars because we bring the starlight back to light the darkness on earth.

  5. Hey there,
    Thanks for sharing these. I especially related to what C.S.Lewis wrote. I was speaking with a teenage friend today, who said his writing was unoriginal and boring. I encouraged him to keep going, and told him that no one does anything truly original anyway, for we all take inspirations or bits and pieces from what others have done. But C.S.Lewis wrote it so much better. "..we are recombining elements made by Him and already containing His meanings."

  6. Peter--you're absolutely right. Your encouragement is spot on: none of our writing is or can be truly original! We should embrace that (although, as a hesitant writer myself, I find it difficult to let go of the need to be unique). Thanks for your comment!


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Proverbs 15:1
"A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."