Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Positive Portrayals of Christianity in Genre Fiction

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Positive Portrayals of Christianity in Genre Fiction

    ((Spin off from the Any conservative gamers around? Yes... we do exist))

    It was mentioned in the thread linked above that Christianity is one of Genre fiction's favorite whipping boy. Now we could continue to chew that topic to death or focus on positive portrayals of Christianity in Sci-Fi and Fantasy. Here is a couple I thought off the top of my head. I'll add more later on.

    Jim Butcher's Dresden Files - Michael Carpenter is a supporting character in this Fantasy Noir series (The link is to the first book he appears in). He is a Knight of the Cross, a paladin wielding a sword forged with a nail of crucifixion. The best way to describe Micheal is he is a "righteous" man, not a "self-righteous" man. Michael isn't perfect but is considered by Harry Dresden to be the best man he knows.

    Mary Doria Russell's The Sparrow and Children of God - A Jesuit Mission to make first contact with Intelligent Aliens goes wrong. Note, the mission goes wrong because of the difficulties inherent to first contact rather than anything having to do with religious aspect of the mission.

    Anyone got any others?


    Are you ready to rage? Discover if you are Brave Enough to fight for the soul of the world.

    The Werewolf: the Apocalypse Quest updates on Mondays. All are welcome to vote.

  • #2
    I got just three, and the second and third aren't fantasy/sci-fi:

    First, already named above, Michael Carpenter

    Second, Atticus Finch

    Third, Captain John Francis Patrick Mulcahy

    After that, I don't see a lot of positive, but a lot of that is my own bias.
    Last edited by Papa Bear; 10-12-2016, 01:33 PM.


    - If you must be ridiculous, I must ridicule you.
    - Those that can give up essential liberties in exchange for temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. -- Benjamin Franklin

    Comment


    • #3
      C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia series is a strong example of Christian parable translated through traditional high fantasy. Many of his other books, such as The Screwtape Letters, take complicated questions of theology and make them entertaining and compelling. He also wrote a sci-fi trilogy called The Space Trilogy, but I haven't read it.

      You could argue that Lord of the Rings, the granddaddy of high fantasy, is also deeply steeped in Christian thought.

      Beloved children's sci-fantasy novel A Wrinkle in Time also has strong Christian undercurrents. She considered herself a successor to C.S. Lewis from what I remember.

      I think a big part of the problem is that for the past couple of decades, a lot of people who want to write explicitly Christian fiction target their audience to explicitly Christian audiences, creating an insulated sub-genre. I'm sure there are plenty of books that promote positive Christian values without being explicitly about Christianity, in the same way that most sci-fi and fantasy isn't explicitly atheist. Just because a book isn't about Christianity doesn't mean it doesn't promote Christian values or ideals.
      Last edited by dxanders; 10-12-2016, 01:38 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        All of Classic World of Darkness proposes Christianity as true, with the exception of Werewolf where it is explicitly a lie, and Mage where everything is true.


        Darkframe - Crossover setting that puts Chronicles of Darkness in the far future that is Warframe.

        "The weeping in the world will not decrease if we do not weep together."

        Comment


        • #5
          Anne Rice, who is in lots of ways the godmother of urban fantasy, modern horror, and all the other building blocks of the World/Chronicle of Darkness has an interesting and complicated relationship with Christianity. I'd argue you can see her understanding of Catholic vice and virtue prominently in a lot of her earlier works, even though she didn't identify as a church member at the time. She returned to religion in the late 90s and wrote a couple of books explicitly about the life of Jesus Christ in the 2000s. She's since left the church but still considers herself a follower of Christ who can't stand behind the values that are promoted by the Catholic Church.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by ManusDomine View Post
            All of Classic World of Darkness proposes Christianity as true, with the exception of Werewolf where it is explicitly a lie, and Mage where everything is true.
            I'm not sure I'd call that a positive portrayal of Christianity though. The nature and agendas of that God were left largely ambiguous.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by dxanders View Post

              I think a big part of the problem is that for the past couple of decades, a lot of people who want to write explicitly Christian fiction target their audience to explicitly Christian audiences, creating an insulated sub-genre. I'm sure there are plenty of books that promote positive Christian values without being explicitly about Christianity, in the same way that most sci-fi and fantasy isn't explicitly atheist. Just because a book isn't about Christianity doesn't mean it doesn't promote Christian values or ideals.
              I did consider adding the Left Behind series to my list. I didn't because I haven't read the series myself. Considering how many of my Christian friends have read the series, I assume it has a positive portrayal of Christianity.


              Are you ready to rage? Discover if you are Brave Enough to fight for the soul of the world.

              The Werewolf: the Apocalypse Quest updates on Mondays. All are welcome to vote.

              Comment


              • #8
                The Exorcist features conflicted Priests but the righteousness and holiness of God is on display. I feel like any storyline borrowing from this film generally showcases the Priests as Good Guys. Similarly most stories featuring demonic possession that can be combated by Faith. This probably isn't exhaustive (for instance, the TV show Supernatural is not kind to any sort of divinity).

                Tales of the Abyss features The Order of Lorelei, which I feel is basically Fantasy Catholicism, complete with Saint equivalents. It's generally full of well-meaning figures, even if you are against them during some points.

                Speaking of quirky JRPGs, Radiata Stories features a large fantasy Church with Bishops and Archbishops and Priests, and the High Priest, Kain, is a cool bro who you can recruit later on. The church is mostly made up of people who just want to help out (and naturally has most of the healers, both NPC and party members). There's a greedy faction within the church but even they aren't really bad guys, just mercenary.


                "Nihhina kalekal-zidu kal masun, kal manudanadu. Nihhina kalekal-zidu nukal shaghu-desasudu — nihhina kalekal-zidu kal innu-desasudu udhkal samm." Arthur Ashe
                On the Chronicles of Darkness Slack Team. PM me for invitation
                Check out my tumblr for Chronicles of Darkness-related musings

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by wonderandawe View Post

                  I did consider adding the Left Behind series to my list. I didn't because I haven't read the series myself. Considering how many of my Christian friends have read the series, I assume it has a positive portrayal of Christianity.
                  I was intentionally leaving out Left Behind and books like it, but there should be plenty of explicitly Christian sci-fi and fantasy fiction. It's become its own sub-genre, and therein lies the rub.

                  If you want books that speak explicitly about Christianity (and speak in an explicitly positive context), then you aren't talking about popular fiction. You're talking about sub-genre fiction. Those books are written to the sensibilities of a smaller crowd than the already niche community.

                  For most genre fiction, you have to read between the lines. A book might promote Christian values without being explicitly Christian, and there's nothing wrong with that. That said, I do think fantasy and sci-fi may skew a little more towards a humanist/agnostic/atheist perspective simply due to the history of the genre. They rose to prominence during a time when Christianity was the de facto standard of society. As such, the format gave authors the opportunity to be transgressive and counter-cultural, to talk about issues they had with the contemporary world in a way that didn't openly denounce Christianity.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by wonderandawe View Post

                    I did consider adding the Left Behind series to my list. I didn't because I haven't read the series myself. Considering how many of my Christian friends have read the series, I assume it has a positive portrayal of Christianity.
                    Depends how one defines "positive".

                    If by positive, you mean the unambiguous designated protagonists, yes.

                    If by positive, you mean a good example of the faith that you can take beyond its particular series - or a good book at all - then no. It's demeaning and patronizing.


                    We don't allow mages to cast spells, since this is the most unbalancing rule of all.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by BigDamnHero View Post
                      The Exorcist features conflicted Priests but the righteousness and holiness of God is on display. I feel like any storyline borrowing from this film generally showcases the Priests as Good Guys. Similarly most stories featuring demonic possession that can be combated by Faith. This probably isn't exhaustive (for instance, the TV show Supernatural is not kind to any sort of divinity).

                      Tales of the Abyss features The Order of Lorelei, which I feel is basically Fantasy Catholicism, complete with Saint equivalents. It's generally full of well-meaning figures, even if you are against them during some points.

                      Speaking of quirky JRPGs, Radiata Stories features a large fantasy Church with Bishops and Archbishops and Priests, and the High Priest, Kain, is a cool bro who you can recruit later on. The church is mostly made up of people who just want to help out (and naturally has most of the healers, both NPC and party members). There's a greedy faction within the church but even they aren't really bad guys, just mercenary.

                      I'd say pulp fantasy in general has the tendency to promote the Church as a positive force, even if it's metaphorical. Dungeons and Dragons clerics, healers and priests in video game RPGs, etc. all tend to pull recognizable aspects of the Christian church into their portrayals.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Jachra View Post
                        Depends how one defines "positive".

                        If by positive, you mean the unambiguous designated protagonists, yes.

                        If by positive, you mean a good example of the faith that you can take beyond its particular series - or a good book at all - then no. It's demeaning and patronizing.

                        I never read the book and just looked at the wikipedia article. Considering the pope in the book was raptured because "he came to see the truth in the teachings of Martian Luther", I'll leave it off the list.


                        Are you ready to rage? Discover if you are Brave Enough to fight for the soul of the world.

                        The Werewolf: the Apocalypse Quest updates on Mondays. All are welcome to vote.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by dxanders View Post


                          I'd say pulp fantasy in general has the tendency to promote the Church as a positive force, even if it's metaphorical. Dungeons and Dragons clerics, healers and priests in video game RPGs, etc. all tend to pull recognizable aspects of the Christian church into their portrayals.
                          Sure, but evil clerics and priests exist in a lot of those things. My favorite D&D setting, Eberron, explicitly allows Evil members of Good-aligned religions and churches to still use healing and good-aligned spells. I tried to find examples of Catholic- or at least Christian-esque organizations that used their political power for generally good things and weren't the primary antagonists (though allowing for high-ranking members of those churches to be bad eggs). Though I guess D&D editions before 4 do require Paladins to be Lawful Good or they lose their powers, so I guess any organization of Paladins from those editions qualify as positive portrayals. So long as their leader isn't secretly a Baalor or something.

                          The Castlevania: Lords of Shadow franchise is super Catholic. Even though the main character is not a good guy, the righteousness of God is unquestioned (though it gets goofy as hell in 2). The bad guy is literally the Devil and Gabriel basically has to beat him by sincerely proclaiming his faith in the everlasting forgiveness of the Lord.


                          "Nihhina kalekal-zidu kal masun, kal manudanadu. Nihhina kalekal-zidu nukal shaghu-desasudu — nihhina kalekal-zidu kal innu-desasudu udhkal samm." Arthur Ashe
                          On the Chronicles of Darkness Slack Team. PM me for invitation
                          Check out my tumblr for Chronicles of Darkness-related musings

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by wonderandawe View Post


                            I never read the book and just looked at the wikipedia article. Considering the pope in the book was raptured because "he came to see the truth in the teachings of Martian Luther", I'll leave it off the list.
                            I want to read more about this Martian Luther.

                            Originally posted by BigDamnHero View Post

                            Sure, but evil clerics and priests exist in a lot of those things. My favorite D&D setting, Eberron, explicitly allows Evil members of Good-aligned religions and churches to still use healing and good-aligned spells. I tried to find examples of Catholic- or at least Christian-esque organizations that used their political power for generally good things and weren't the primary antagonists (though allowing for high-ranking members of those churches to be bad eggs). Though I guess D&D editions before 4 do require Paladins to be Lawful Good or they lose their powers, so I guess any organization of Paladins from those editions qualify as positive portrayals. So long as their leader isn't secretly a Baalor or something.

                            The Castlevania: Lords of Shadow franchise is super Catholic. Even though the main character is not a good guy, the righteousness of God is unquestioned (though it gets goofy as hell in 2). The bad guy is literally the Devil and Gabriel basically has to beat him by sincerely proclaiming his faith in the everlasting forgiveness of the Lord.
                            True, but I think "good paladins" and "good clerics" that resemble members of the traditional church are more or less baked into these kinds of generic settings, and the inversion of that is the exception rather than the rule.

                            Castlevania is a good one, btw. It has a very stark view of morality.

                            I'd throw Daredevil in to the mix as well. Definitely a positive (if conflicted) character with an explicitly Catholic mindset.
                            Last edited by dxanders; 10-12-2016, 03:12 PM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by dxanders View Post

                              I want to read more about this Martian Luther.
                              Ha! Hilarious misspelling strikes again!


                              Are you ready to rage? Discover if you are Brave Enough to fight for the soul of the world.

                              The Werewolf: the Apocalypse Quest updates on Mondays. All are welcome to vote.

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X