Tuesday, July 8, 2014
That pretty much says it when it comes to our entertainment choices - things to read, watch, and play. If you're a kid or a teen picking out something to do or a parent filtering those choices for your kids and for yourself, your decision is a big deal--big enough for God to direct us through His writer, the Apostle Paul.
Why? Because the Lord knows that what we input fills our brains, our hearts, and our very beings. Jesus was a great storyteller who understood better than any that stories are powerful things. They can make us feel thrilled, happy, triumphant, sad, angry...every emotion there is. They can overwhelm our souls with light or with darkness. Stories can teach us and He used them marvelously well. Read "The Parable of the Lost Son" for an example. (Luke 15.)
Yeah, but, I see a conflict here, maybe. I'm a fantasy fanatic. The fantasy genre can match all of Paul's criterion but one: "...whatever is true...." Does that mean it should be off my list? Does it displease God that I love stories filled with non-existent creatures like hobbits, elves, and fairies who do supernatural things? When I was little, Mom often read to me from The Golden Book of Fairy Tales, published in 1958, with classics like "Thumbelina," "The Frog Prince," "Cinderella," and "The Sleeping Beauty." I made quick work of learning to read and immersed myself in The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien), The Dragon King Trilogy (Stephen Lawhead), The Tower of Geburah (John White), and many besides.
In all my enjoyment of fantastical things, I would never delve into magic of any kind. Real witchcraft freaks me out and I would never be so stupid as to practice it, knowing that the real deal is a real danger and a very real evil. Still, I wondered if fantasy was "allowed."
And here's where the Comforter, the Holy Spirit (John 14: 16 & 17), soothed me through one of my best memories. I was eleven years old. My brother Tom, who was away in college, sent me a hardbound copy of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the first book in The Chronicles of Narnia (C.S. Lewis). In the enclosed letter he said this: "Kat, figure out who Aslan is."
I read it. I loved it. I marveled at the Great Lion, wished I could ride on His back as Lucy and Susan did, and pondered what Tom said. Who is Aslan, the Son of the Emperor, Who died in a traitor's stead and then came back alive? The answer hit me so hard it stopped me from moving and gave me a chill of awe from my head to my feet, so that my eyes watered. He's Jesus.
I didn't understand what it meant to believe, I simply did it and, without words, thanked Him for dying in my stead. A few months later, at a local Billy Graham crusade, I went forward at the preacher's call and made my conversion "official," though I knew that salvation had already happened to me.
Through what, my good readers? Through a fantasy story. That is, a fantasy story rich with truth at its core. Does God mind if read fantasy? Mind? He smiles as I wipe tears every time I read or see where Sam carries Frodo. Every time. What's more, He delights to give me His ideas and His words. He helped me write my tween fantasy Children of Angels. The awe of His inspiration is almost as great as the awe I felt when I first realized Who Aslan was.
The moral of the story: whatever age of reader/watcher you are, delight in the imagination God has given you, but use your gift well, for it's powerful. I say choose those things that are rife with truth.
To quote Aragorn, son of Arathorn: "What say you?" I'd love your comments.
Thursday, January 16, 2014
OMGoodness! My tween and teen fantasy novel Children of Angels just won its third award: the SILVER medal in the Juvenile/Young Adult Fiction category of the 2013 Illumination Book Awards! I was ecstatic over the first two wins--Honorable Mention in the 2013 Hollywood Book Festival and the GOLD medal in the 2013 Moonbeam Children's Book Awards, YA Fiction/Religion category. Now, I'm plain overwhelmed.
"Shining a light on exemplary Christian books," is this year's motto for the Illumination Awards operated by the Jenkins Group. Hey, Jerry Jenkins and crew, you're helping authors' works to shine like that city on a hill that Jesus described in Matthew 6. You're helping us to escape being hidden and how we thank you for that!
As for the thanks I pour out to God, I'll let the Apostle Paul, one of the best writers of all time, word my feelings for me:
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 6: 20 & 21
To see other works that won go to:
And to those authors who entered this contest and didn't win a medal...? I've been a pro writer for twenty-two years and I've been in your place many more times than I've been "on the podium." I have a stack of rejection letters that's one inch thick; I kept them to prove to the IRS that I really am a self-employed writer. In 2013, Children of Angels in its book or screenplay form lost out in four other contests. I'd say my losses outnumbered my wins if I chose to view my life that way. But I don't. I'm privileged to be a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. I rejoice in the work and leave the results to Him, for in Him there are no losers. So, cling to the Lord, give Him your disappointment ('cause I know it stings), praise Him anyhow for all the good He's done, and refuse to listen to any voices telling you to give up - whether they're audible, you're own thoughts, or lies whispered in your mind by the principalities and powers we're called to fight in Ephesians 6. Rather, stand firm in the Lord, keep learning, keep improving your craft, and keep going!
Kathryn Dahlstrom, Author