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Are Fairy Tales a Waste of Time?

This is a guest post by Brent King.

As a Christian urban fantasy author I have been confronted, as have many of my writing partners, by those who doubt that fantasy, or fairy stories, have any anchor in the real world. Worse yet, some have argued that they take their reader far out of this world into an imaginary place that has no connection to reality.

Is this true? Are fairy stories a mindless waste of time? Do they lure our minds away from reality into an anchorless world of fantasy?

What Fairy Tales Do

It’s true, when we experience a good fairy tale it allows us to open up a place inside of us where we can actually believe its enchantments. It is thrilling to go adventuring with Kyran and Posy, or on a quest with Frodo, but does it snow-white-933491really have anything to do with our world?

The answer is a resounding “yes.” Fairy tales:

  • give us a lens to see the world in a startling new way.
  • help us to see our lives not only as they are, but as they could be (or perhaps should be).
  • touch us in their most signature way by how we experience their endings: that sudden, unexpected joy that washes over us in the miraculous grace of what Tolkien called the “eucatastrophe.”

But How Can This Be?

Fairy stories are only successful to the extent that they reflect our world. Who would be moved by a story to which they could not relate? The only reason why the fairy world attracts us is because it is fashioned after the truth of our world.

Indeed the fairy world is our world, a world of wonder we can experience in the real—right now. There is awe, wonder, and amazement in our world. There is beauty and redemption beyond all our evil and brokenness. The problem is that our eyes are often too compromised, shaken, pacified, unfocused, jaded, or injured to see it.

take-532097Where Fairy Tales Shine

This is where fantasy shines. In a world where the simple virtues of God have become routine and expected, a fairy tale catches us off-guard and we are surprised by the truth. It breaks through what CS Lewis referred to as our “stained-glass and Sunday school associations,” and the result is pure delight. This was JRR Tolkien’s point in his lecture on fairy tales:

“The peculiar quality of the ”joy” in successful Fantasy can thus be explained as a sudden glimpse of the underlying reality or truth.”

Teaching by Delighting

A good story both delights and teaches, and that is the power of a great fairy tale. It teaches by delighting. This anchors the fairy tale deep in the real world, powerfully connecting it to our lives in ways that are essential to society.

Are Fairy Tales A Waste of Time?

Are fairy tales a waste of time? Only if teaching truth is a waste of time. There is realm of awe and wonder in our world, scenes of beauty and redemption, yet many of us would miss them without a good story, indeed, without a grounding fairy tale.

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Brent KingBrent King is a freelance writer of Christian urban fantasy from Lake Oswego, Oregon. He also works as a massage therapist and health consultant. He has two sons, 20 and 23, who live in British Columbia, Canada.
Brent’s first book, The Grip of Grace: God’s Hand in The Lord of the Rings, was published in January, 2014. His debut novel, The Fiercest Fight, was published in November 2015.
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The Fiercest Fight: Character Interview

I’m thrilled to announce the release of an awesome new book that you Christian fantasy lovers will not want to miss.  Adventure, danger, romance, dark creatures, life and death, and a strong and true message…you’ll find that and much more in The Fiercest Fight.  Also…that cover is simply amazing – I dare you to disagree with me!

Without further ado, here’s a fun and tantalizing character interview between the author, Brent King, and the protagonist of The Fiercest Fight, Tristan.

Character Interview with Tristan

Brent:
Hey! This is the first post in a blog tour to celebrate the release my debut fantasy novel, The Fiercest Fight. I can’t think of a better way to start than with an interview of my protagonist, Tristan.

Tristan:
*leans back in his chair and runs his fingers through his hair*
But I’m going to ask the first question: Why did you give me your red hair? You must have known how my schoolmates would tease me.

Brent:
Yeah, I did. But all you have to know is how to smile and say, “I know. Isn’t it cool?” It’s a small price to pay for such a distinguishing feature.

Tristan:
*shifts in his seat*
Easy for you to say! The guys were relentless.

Brent:
So is that what you hate worst about life?The Fiercest Fight Cover

Tristan:
Well, not exactly.
*removes sunglasses, shifts glowing eyes*
It used to be, but unfortunately, life got more complex. My issues now make my red hair trouble seem juvenile.

Brent:
*squints into Tristan’s eyes* It sounds like you’ve grown up a bit then.

Tristan:
I had to.

Brent:
Was it scary?

Tristan:
*slips sunglasses back on and nods*
Sometimes.
You would be scared too if you had to face…uh…do you believe in monsters?

Brent:
I-well…
*twirls a pencil in between fingers*
I’m not sure…

Tristan:
You would if you were me.

Brent:
I would?

Tristan:
What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done to someone?

Brent:
I thought I was asking the questions.
*eyes twinkle*

Tristan:
*lifts up hand and stares at it, flexing his fingers*
Well, to answer my own question then, I’ve hurt people pretty bad. I wish the beast had never come to me. He’s a fearsome—

Brent:
Beast?

Tristan:
*nods*
You wouldn’t understand. It’s too…unbelievable. Even Pastor Mike had a hard time at first.

Brent:
Are you talking about a wildcat or a wolf?

Tristan:
*rises and shakes his head*
Much worse than that! This creature would make you believe in God…or at least search for Him.

Brent:
I do believe in God. Do you?

Tristan:
Yes.
He offered me life or death. It wasn’t easy, but I chose death.

Brent:
*rises and shakes Tristan’s hand*
That’s a bit cryptic, but I wanted it that way.
*grins*

Tristan:
Thanks a lot!

Brent:
*calls after Tristan as he exits*
You’re welcome, and thanks for the chance to ask a few questions.

Well, there you have it: a few words with my protagonist. If you have any further questions for him, don’t hesitate to leave them below. I’ll make sure he answers them.

____________

FOLLOW THIS LINK TO ENTER INTO THE GREAT GIVEAWAY BEING OFFERED BY THE AUTHOR!

____________

Brent KingBrent King is a freelance writer of Christian fantasy and historical fiction from Lake Oswego, Oregon. Brent is a musician, a waterman, and has two sons, 20 and 23, who live in British Columbia, Canada. Brent’s first book, The Grip of Grace: God’s Hand in The Lord of the Rings, was published in January, 2014.

The Grip of Grace: God’s Hand in the Lord of the Rings

the grip of graceAs a Christian who has both read and watched Lord of the Rings for years, I thought there was not much of its deeper meaning left for me to discover. How wrong I was! Brent King takes a classic we all know well and revisits it, bit by bit, uncovering things of value and eternal worth. Tolkien himself may not have had the purpose of “Christian” meaning in mind when he wrote his trilogy, but it is clear at the same time that he wished at least to represent the battle between darkness and light. The author of The Grip of Grace takes those representations and shows us how to apply them to our Christian lives and our walks with God.

I love how the book is split into short 2-3 page sections – so easy to devour several of them in a setting! Each section begins with the author’s (slightly paraphrased) version of a scene from the trilogy (chronologically organized). The section then goes into the application of the scene – how we might use or apply it in life. Something simple, or perhaps something epic, can turn into something so real that I can see it clearly in my own life. It reads almost like a devotional, and I can completely see a group of Christian Tolkien fans using this book for a Bible study! Wish I had just such a group of friends …!

The author weaves and reveals the Christian meaning from Lord of the Rings in such a natural way that it’s difficult for me to believe Tolkien did not intend it to be meant that way from the very beginning. I got great good out of this book – new perspectives, inspirations and blessings from the world of Middle Earth that I never dreamed of.

Are you a Christian? Are you a Tolkien fan? Read this book!!

 

Visit Brent King at his site and find articles on God, fantasy, writing, and more. Also find him on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and Pinterest.

Purchase The Grip of Grace on Amazon.

King’s newest book, Tempting Jesus, released last month as well!

The Fairy Tale Gospel

This is a guest post by Brent King.

Deeper than our deepest longings, fairy tales tell truths about our inner and outer world, truths that are either too obvious for modern men or too truthful. Take, for instance, Little Red Riding Hood. It affirms that the world is dangerous, that there is an evil wolf that will eat us up if given the chance. Yet there is also a huntsman who can slay the wolf and save us. The great themes of sin and redemption are encapsulated in such a story in a clever and deeply symbolic way.

It’s All About the Good News

GK Chesterton said that the deepest truth about fairy tales was not that dragons exist, but that they can be beaten. Who doesn’t see the bad news about dragons? They lurk all around us in our broken world. It’s the good news of their defeat that we need to hear.

The Pagans Knew More!

Many of our modern tales do not reflect this reality. In these stories, the young girl easily defeats the wolf or the protagonist befriends the dragon and they live happily together ever after. Consequently, our children are assured that wolves and dragons can be effortlessly vanquished. The pagans of old knew more about the dragons than we do!dragon and knight2

It Seems Impossible

The good news in those ancient stories is that, beyond all hope, the dragon has been defeated. They are stories that seem impossible. We have all seen the pictures of the hideous monster dwarfing the brave knight wielding a sword. How can that story ever have a happy ending?

Yet it is this hope that lies at the root of our fascination with fairy stories: that good will triumph against all odds. The eucatastrophe, as Tolkien called it, of the fairy tale represents the heart of the Gospel: the dragon has been destroyed. The princess has been rescued, and she will live happily ever after with the prince.

A Primal Story

Fairy tales hold power over the human heart because they reflect the Gospel story, a story that rejects the idea of the princess saving herself. Of course, this is the primal story. It tells of a God who made the world and man. It tells of a malevolent angel’s attack, and man’s defeat and captivity. It was a rout so complete that, to save men, God had to become a man and fight the enemy Himself.

That is What Happened, but We Tell the Story Like This:

Once upon a time there was a lovely damsel who fell in love with a prince. Through her own folly, she was captured by a necromancer, drugged, and confined in his dark tower. The prince disguised himself as a commoner and entered into his shadow-shrouded stronghold to rescue her. But the sorcerer was too strong and slew the prince. Yet he could not combat the ancient magic that brought the prince back to life. The prince subdued the sorcerer and his minions, rescued the princess, and took her back to his kingdom where they lived happily ever after.

An Enduring Story

We tell and retell this story, as if we can’t get enough. Somewhere deep inside, we all know it is true. It awakens our imagination, rousing us in a way that religion cannot. No one, anywhere in this world, is immune to its power. It revives a hope of victory that reaches down into this broken world from beyond.

This is the Fairy Tale Gospel

The fairy tale world shares the darkness of our world, yet its world powerfully pictures a place where marvelous and unbelievable things truly happen, where good battles evil and survives to tell the tale. This is the fairy tale gospel: a gospel that introduces us to the true Gospel so that our once upon a time can indeed become a happily ever after.

 

Brent King is a freelance writer of Christian fantasy and historical fiction from Lake Oswego, Oregon.