Sunday, January 13, 2013
The Bible and Fantasy: Part 4
So today we are going to be talking about elves, dwarves, hobbits, fairies, mermaids, and other epic creatures. We will also be talking about the baddies that plague fantasy worlds across the universe: goblins, trolls, giants, orcs, and such nasty creations of the subconscious.
How does God feel about creating "creatures" that have souls, human emotions, and morals, but don't necessarily look human? And how does God feel about creating hideous and evil monsters inside our heads?
First, I would like to point out that we mere humans are not the only ones out there. And no, before you go run and hide, I do NOT believe in aliens. I'm talking about angels and demons. Angels and demons are very real entities in this world, even if we can't see them. I don't know what either of them look like. I do know that whenever an angel appeared to someone, they usually began with "do not be afraid." (Genesis 21:17, Matthew 28:5, Luke 1:13, etc.)
The Bible simply does not say much about angels. I don't know if they look like humans, or if they look like something completely different, or if they can shapeshift. But I do know that they can speak with humans (like, every angel story ever), that they can appear where God wants them to appear (Judges 6:12), and that they are in a constant war against demons (Revelation 12:7).
Demons are corrupted angels. They were cast down with Satan in the beginning because they revolted against God. They are wicked, evil, and constantly looking for ways to defy God. I don't know what they look like, but the Bible says to arm yourself against the devil's schemes (Ephesians 6: 10-18). They can posses and corrupt humans, and only the power of Christ can make them leave. Clearly, both these beings are very powerful.
Funny thing is, Christians get all weird over different races in fantasy worlds, when our world is no different. Angels, humans, and demons are all COMPLETELY different beings. But you know what is interesting...and scary? Both angels and demons have attributes common with humans.
The purpose of angels is to glorify God and do his bidding. Same as humans. They can speak, so can humans. They can praise God, so can humans. They can rejoice, so can humans. They can fight against evil and the devil, so can humans...though perhaps not on the same front.
However, angels cannot have a personal relationship with Christ. Jesus Christ does not come and live in their hearts like he does for us. From what the Bible says, it does not look like angels can marry, and I would go so far as to say there is only one gender of angels. All angels that appear in the Bible are listed as males, so I don't think there are any female angels.
Demons also have a lot in common with human. Both corrupted themselves. Both were cast from God's presence. Both are inherently bad. Both are prideful, vindictive, selfish, and malicious...no offense to any humans reading this, but it is true. In our own flesh, there is nothing good in us. Both look for reasons to defy God and live our own lives.
However, humans have the capability of doing good. Not being good mind you, but doing good. The Bible has never shown or spoke of a demon with that capability.
Okay, all this to say, there are other "humanoid" beings in our world. But what does this have to do with fantasy? Well, for one, I think it is okay to have human-like races that are supernatural, like Valar (The Silmarillion) and Shepherds (Dark Sea Annals). But what about more basic creatures? Elves, dwarves, and the like?
Well, I have said before that the main purpose of fantasy is to amplify the little things in the life. Using Lord of the Rings, yet again, races can be used to show different aspects of us humans. The Elves of Middle-Earth are graceful, beautiful, and in love with nature. They do not like technology and stone, but they love the living and growing things. Tolkien used this to display an aspect of human nature, whether he did it consciously or subconsciously, I don't know. But every human, even the most tech-savvy, computer drooling, robot-building geek, has the desire to see and experience nature. We all at some point in our lives have desired to do nothing except walk a gorgeous wood with no thoughts but the beauty of it all. A quiet, graceful wood with no human building in sight is about as close as we can get to the garden of Eden, which is what we were made for.
Dwarves reflect the human desire to build things and explore the dark and dangerous places of the world. Hobbits reflect our desire to live in the good old days, where life was simple and good. So you see? They are all magnified reflections of ourselves.
What about the grody creatures of fantasy? Well, the scary thing is, it's the same thing. Orcs were corrupted Elves. They demonstrate what happens to a human if they become so bogged down in the things of this world until they can no longer remember what it feels like to run through a meadow barefoot, or to swim beneath a sparkling waterfall. Gollum is a corrupted Hobbit. He became consumed by the bare moment, by the one thing bringing pleasure to him, the Ring. He spent years doing nothing but staring at it, thinking of no other time or place, until he even forgot his own name. This is a reflection of what happens to humans if we live for far too long in the present, only focusing on finding our own "preciousses."
I wrote a very long post to explain a very simple concept...again. The different races are all just reflections of ourselves. They bring the small aspects of humanity to life in a full, new form. I don't mean to keep nailing this point, but it is seriously the most important point in all of history. Our job is to glorify God. If it glorifies God, do it. If it doesn't, then run from it! Pray over your novel, and I promise God will tell you what to keep and what to use the old backspace button on.
Part 5 coming up soon! Not sure what that'll be about...probably just my random thoughts on dead people, curses, religions, and such in fantasy.