Monday, June 30, 2014

Faith and Fantasy

I was going to do the Classics tag...and I realized it had been a while since I read any classics...and there were a lot of classics I actually disliked...and I figured fantasy would be easier. Lo and behold, I forgot I read not a huge lot in the way of fantasy while growing up. But I wanted to do this tag, so...XD 

1. Taken from a Christian perspective, what are your thoughts and feelings on the fantasy genre in general? Do you hold to any convictions or guidelines on things like magic, sorcery, fantastical elements or allegory in fantasy books?
Allegories are absolutely wrong and should never be written by Christians...wait, no, I wrote one...XD
Okay, this could take up several blog posts. And I still might not have perfectly explained my thoughts and feelings. So basically...look at the Bible. Talking donkeys, dead people coming to life, fleeces getting wet or not wet, oil jars never going empty, ravens bringing people food...that was stream of consciousness typing - I could go on for quite a while. (Have you read the book of Ezekiel lately? XD) A lot of things in there could be seen as "magic" but they're reality. I liked how Rachel Starr Thompson said it on her site:
Fantasy is the most natural genre for me because I think reality is in fact heavily supernatural and invisible, and fantasy provides an amazing way to make invisible things visible and give a tangible aspect to things that are otherwise hard to grasp.
I have no problem with fantastical elements/magic/etc...unless it is ill-defined. Power in our world comes from God, but there is a twisted power of the devil (see the demon-possessed in the New Testament) as well. If the story is set in our world, it kinda needs to play by the rules set up. If the story is in a different kind of world (like the Tales of Goldstone Woods and The Books of Bayern), then there's a little more leeway. But magic/power still has to abide by rules. Good and evil can't mix, no matter what universe you're in (you don't serve God using power from the devil). Basically, it has to be Biblical.

2. Who are some of your favourite fantasy/fairy-tale authors? (you can name up to three.)
Anne Elisabeth Stengl...Tolkien/Lewis...aaand Megan Whalen Turner. XD
(once Mirriam Neal gets some fantasy published I might add her to this list...XD)

3. Have you read The Chronicles of Narnia books, or watched any of the movies? Which, if so, are your three favourite books?
ohhh...three favorite...The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The Horse and His Boy. Prince Caspian. XD 

4. How many books by J.R.R. Tolkien have you read and enjoyed so far? Can you choose a favourite book (The Lord of the Rings can be considered one book ;)?
The Hobbit...Lord of the Rings...The Silmarillion...The Children of Hurin...oh, and Farmer Giles of Ham. If I can't remember others, I guess they don't count. XD I think of those LOTR would be my favorite, though the Silmarillion explains a lot, and The Hobbit is the least depressing. XD

5. Uhm. . . since, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were friends, I will not risk causing further estrangement to the history of their friendship by pitting them against each other! However, being the mastermind of mischief that I am, I will toss this question your way: which of the two are you most fond of in sense of storytelling, characters, themes and what personally touches/inspires you the most: The Lord of the Rings, or The Chronicles of Narnia?
LOTR is the more epic...Narnia is a piece of my childhood...but really, LOTR is how I started adolescence...touches and inspires me how??? both. in different ways. I can't do it.

6. Are there other books and movies of the fantasy/fairy-tale/legend genre that have you read and loved, especially from modern authors? Please tell us a little bit about them.
Well, I mentioned Megan Whalen Turner (because her books are fascinating and many-layered and genius, no matter how many times I read them)...
I've very much enjoyed Shannon Hale's The Goose Girl, Enna Burning, River Secrets, Forest Born (which I did not like the first time I read it, but really did the second time), as well as Princess Academy.
I've also read some Robin McKinley...Stephen Lawhead...Madeline L'Engle...Diana Wynne Jones...George Macdonald....I will say L'Engle combined with Macdonald and the philosophical musings of a nonfiction author sent me into a bit of a tailspin faith-wise at one point, which I will not say was a bad thing, because it forced me to grab hold of what I knew to be truth and let go of some of the trappings I had decorated with...but it was extremely not pleasant and perhaps could have turned out not as it did. You really do have to be careful what you read, and you do have to examine yourself and what you believe and how what you are filling your head with is changing you. Because it will change you.

7. Have you read any Christian allegories, such as Pilgrim's Progress, Holy War or Hinds Feet on High Places? 
Pilgrim's Progress & Hinds Feet on High Places. And a few others...including some I really did not enjoy, though I've forgotten the names of them. XD

8. Share some of your most well-loved heroines from fantasy tales in literature (books, movies, modern and classics), and why you love them so much! What virtues/traits in them would you like to have yourself?
I'm going to close my eyes and pick one...'cause otherwise I'll be sitting at my computer all night. XD
Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee from The Goose Girl - she actually reminded me a lot of myself when I was younger, with her shyness, love of her horse, and desire to be more like her mother. Thankfully, my mom is nothing like hers. XD It's been a while since I read it, but I think I have come to accept, as she did, who I am as different from some of those I dearly love, respect, look up to, and have always wanted to be like. We've all been given different gifts, and that I am not a carbon copy of another individual is not something to wish away. I was never meant to be a copy, and while there is an incredible amount I can learn from others and things in my life I need to work at and improve...I don't have to rewrite my personality and talents to be who I am supposed to be. Which kinda is something I think I wanted to do as a child.

9. Which land would you rather go, dwell in, or be a part of: Middle-Earth, or Narnia? (or maybe some other fantasy-land, you share!)
Middle Earth. XD

10. What kind of fantasy are you most fond of? Fantastical and "fairy-tale-ish" like Alice in Wonderland, Beauty and the Beast or Cinderella, or rather the mythological, high-epic-fantasies such as Tolkien's?
In general I like high fantasy...epic is hard to beat. I have read some delightfully fun fairy-tale-ish, really depends on the book.

11. Which is your favourite fairy-tale? 
I like the random ones...Snow White & Rose Red...Cinderlad...I can't pick favorites! I should have thought about that before doing this tag... XD

12. List some of your most well-loved movie adaptions of fantasy tales (this does not include Disney fairy-tale animations). 
I really haven't seen that many adaptations...I don't there a point in just listing the ones I've seen? XD

13. Who are your favourite heroes from fantasy books? (you may list as many as you like!) Tell us a little bit about why you love them so much :).
I'm only going to tell one, and he takes a bit of explaining, so I suppose it's good to explain it here. XD
Gen, from the Queen's Thief Series. I think the reason I love him so much is that the series actually has one of the most realistic and incredibly truth-filled salvation journeys I've ever read. The caveat you should be aware of here is that it's based off Greek mythology, and the premise of the series is that the gods are real. I actually read the series aloud to my younger siblings, editing as I read and making it monotheistic and Biblically based as I did so. It's not Christian fiction, but it was brilliantly done, and I thought lent itself very well to my editing. XD 

Gen starts out annoying, cocky, babyish, strange, somewhat infuriating. (And he chews with his mouth open, which is just nasty.) As a self-proclaimed genius thief, he's not exactly the hero you'd be looking for. In the climax of the 1st book, however, you find all is not exactly as it has been proclaimed to be (he's quite a liar, also), and he discovers that the gods [God, in my version XD] to whom he has always paid lip-service are in fact real. And interested in his life. And listening to his prayers. Book 2 has one of my favorite love stories ever, because of how it reminded me of the ridiculousness, really, of God's love for us. We are utterly unworthy, His enemies, and we killed God Incarnate. And He still loves us. If that is not mind-numbingly incredible, I don't know what is. Not only did the book help me realize that afresh, it also has some awesome observations on free will and God's omniscience, on why bad things still happen to us when we are doing right, and how God is able to work all things for good, even through circumstances that we think have destroyed our lives or our usefulness. Gen's growth as a believer is fascinating to watch. (Especially since I've RARELY seen a Christian book do that so well. The way his understanding of who he serves grows is fully part of the story as much as any other element, and key to everything that happens.) Book 3 is something of a fascinating commentary on politics and the difference between citizens and rulers - I'm not sure I agree on the book's conclusion of the matter (and your enjoyment of the book will probably depend on your views regarding lying done by spies for their country), and there are some painful but interesting questions regarding torture raised also...I think what I like most about that particular one is how love is exemplified in seeing who a loved one truly is, in protecting and caring for that one, and in making that one better with your love. Love that gives, instead of wants. Gen does show himself to yet be incredibly young and still with much growing to do, but his growth is obviously ongoing, and the way others react to his faith in a place where most do not believe as he does is fascinating to see. 

I've said a lot about the series in this post, and I should say I would probably not recommend it for young readers. But if you are looking for a way to make your characters' beliefs real, truthful, absolutely the opposite of preachy (or how to weave multiple story threads together and pull together a brilliant political love story, with awesome friendships and bromance and swordfights on the side), then you really should read the series. XD

14. Saddest moment in any fantasy tale you've either watched or read?
The whole ENDING to LOTR was sad...The Children of Hurin was one of the more depressing books I've ever read...The Last Battle was also sad to read in general...I don't want to sit and debate sadness of particular moments.... :(

15. How did you get into The Lord of the Rings and Middle-Earth books/movies? (If you're not into LOTR than you can talk about how you got into Narnia instead).
.....we had a copy of the Hobbit sitting on our bookshelf and I read it? Something like that, anyway. It was a book. It was not complicated. XD

16. Give a list (preferably with pictures!) of your favourite fantasy/medieval costumes/armour/gowns and from which movie/character they come from.
That would take me all year, which I plan to spend doing other things. XD Fantasy  in general has gorgeous costumes...

17. Which fantasy/fairy-tale has inspired and influenced you the most?
based on this post, you tell me. XD
18. Favourite character in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings/Hobbit universe? Favourite character in The Chronicles of Narnia? (Choose 1 each)
.....not fair...I'm going to say Legolas and Peter because I'm not letting myself sit and think about this for any longer than 1 second. XD (because seriously I can't pick favorites and I'm not even going to try. XD)

19. Favourite friendship in a fantasy book/movie/series?
gahhhhhh....okay, that between Eugenides and his Queen in MWT's The Queen's Thief series. (1 second rule...XD)

20. Which villain of fantasy strikes the most dread and loathing in you? Which foe strikes the most pity?
I thought about this for a while, and apparently I don't concentrate on villains much when I'm reading...I like being kind of scared of the villain, but it's mostly because I'm actually really hard to scare (so far as I can tell...), and I will scream at spiders or villains because it's fun, not because I'm genuinely afraid or dreading the villain. 
Sauron is completely unlikeable...Gollum perhaps most pitied, because his story is absolutely miserable. (So is Grima Wormtongue's, but he's slightly less pitiable. :P) Selia from The Books of Bayern was quite nasty. 
Actually the villain I'm most furious with at the moment is Samuel Lemeck from Mirriam Neal's This Mortal Coil - he's barely appeared in the story, but I'm quite mad at him. >:( 

21. Share some of your most well-loved quotes from fantasy books/movies :). 
this one I shall leave for a review post coming up on one of Stengl's books, and then a quote post I have in mind. XD

22. Favourite battle in a fantasy book or movie?
People die in the battles...that makes me sad...I will say there are moments I love - bits of snark and moments of beautiful sacrifice in the Queen's Thief Series...the same for others, though I can't think of a particular one at the moment (see, I read The Queen's Thief Series most recently, so sorry if I seem stuck on that one. XD)

23. Tell us which romance couple you love best in any of the fantasy stories you know about.
The main one in The Queen's Thief Series. XD

24. Elves or dwarves? Gondor or Rohan? Aragorn or King Tirian?
Elves. Rohan. Aragorn. Did anyone actually have a hard time with this one? XD
25. Who is your favourite side-kick (secondary character) in books/movies of this genre? (you are welcome to choose more than one ;). 
Samwise Gamgee...and I'll just stop there...(could you have a better side-kick? really?)

26. List five fantasy novels you are especially looking forward and eager to read in the near future.
Shadow Hand. Anne Elisabeth Stengl. (and Golden Daughter, Goddess Tithe, Dragonwitch, and Veiled Rose...also by her...)
something by Diana Wynne Jones that I have on my computer that I can't think of the title at this second.
Kenna.  Mirriam Neal. And This Mortal Coil, though it's very different from the others listed here. XD

27. Which fantasy work struck you with the most sense and depth of faith and the author's perception of morality, ethics, the distinction and battle between good and evil, and the Christian walk? Can you share a little bit about it?
I'm going to throw my answer to #13 here, because I had to think the most about these things in that series. In LOTR, it was epic and beautiful and profound...but it did not require me to debate the morality of torture, or to sort through such brokenness on the part of those fighting on the side of good and learning to walk the Christian walk when they started from a place so far from right.

28. What was the first fantasy novel you ever read and how did it strike you?
I have no idea. Probably The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe? I really do not remember.

29. What would inspire you to pick up a work of fantasy literature or watch a fantasy film? What do you believe are both the benefits, negatives and overall effects of enjoying this genre?
Well, if it was some random place and I picked the book up, it would probably be due to the cover...doing anything other than picking it up and setting it down would be due to what I read on the back cover/saw flipping through it for a second. Usually I go by recommendations, though - if someone I know enjoyed a story and mentions it repeatedly, that's probably one I'm going to go find and read. :) 
As I was answering these, I read Mirriam's answers and since she basically said exactly what I was just beginning to think for that last question, I'm simply going to quote her. XD
I believe reading fantasy will expand your mind and the way you think and perceive the world around you, as well as brighten and stretch your imagination. It teaches you to think outside the lines. As for negative effects, I think they are the same for every genre – you don’t want to read junk. It’s as simple as that.

2 thoughts shared:

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful Q&A! Makes me want to go re-read so many of my favorite fantasies now!! Most especially LOTR or the Chronicles of Narnia ... ;)

Katherine Sophia said...

:D weren't they great questions? it was a lot of fun.


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