One element of Christianity, and by element I mean faction, is the mindset that fiction is “evil” and that somehow only “non-fiction” is pure. I didn’t grow up in that faction nor were many of my friends and family. As an English teacher in a Christian high school I have run into some resistance to literature. Fortunately, it wasn’t anything a face-to-face conversation couldn’t settle.
So it was with great surprise that when I started reading John Eldredge’s Waking the Dead, that fiction, especially of the fantasy kind, were used as examples to support Eldredge’s Christian point-of-view. Interweaving examples from the Bible and modern fantasy/Sci Fi, John Eldredge walks the reader through the journey to finding God’s plan to help individuals understand why it seems like nothing can go right. I have always maintained that literature, good literature, helps all of use deal with or understand some of the pot holes we encounter on life’s pathway.
The Fantasy genre, especially, has intrigued me because while it is not based on any “reality” there is a lot in those works that feels very “real”. Rather than reading a philosophical book on why bad things happen to good people, I’ve always found fiction a much better way to make sense of the bad things that happen in life. Even if I’ve never experienced the same instances in the books I read, it helps me compassionate and understanding for those that may be struggling with that conflict.
While some of the writing was a little too basic for my taste, I did appreciate the overall message. Seeing so many references to works I was familiar with helped too. I was surprised how many references there were to LOTR or The Chronicles of Narnia. Even The Matrix and The Gladiator make an appearance. But all the core stories are woven deeply into God’s message of love and purpose. This is an encouraging and inspiring read.