A fantastic comedy

By definition the Bible falls into the genre of fantasy.

Many years ago, when teaching in a small Christian elementary school, I had my first encounter with a parent adamant about removing a novel from the language arts curriculum. The novel was A Wrinkle in Time by Christian author Madeleine L’Engle. It won the 1963 Newberry Medal for best children’s book of that year and remains, to this day, a controversial book in many Christian school communities. Very briefly, the book is about a group of children who must rescue their father from a dark planet that is under the influence of an evil power. The children, aided by three strange “ladies” (angels?) are taken on an interplanetary journey by creating “a wrinkle in time.” Here they must confront great evil, including that which lurks within themselves, only to learn that sacrificial love is the only thing that can save their father, themselves, and the world.

Some parents feel that this book glorifies witchcraft and involves the reader in a completely unreal fantasy world of magic and time travel. Many Christian parents have this difficulty with “unreal” fantasy literature that is not grounded in creational reality.

Fantasy vs. reality

Fantasy literature is any literature of the “impossible,” where “impossible” means events that contradict the laws of the so-called natural world. Realistic fiction takes for granted that the world of empirical reality – that is, of the five senses – is all there is, and that the human condition must be lived entirely within this framework

Using these contrasting definitions of fantasy and realistic literatures, the Bible clearly falls within the first category. The central argument of the Bible is that the world of our five senses is not all there is. As St Paul tells us, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12). The Bible centres on a transcendent creator God who comes to us in the person of Jesus Christ who lived, died and was raised again from the dead. That’s about as “unreal” and fantastic as it gets.

Tragedy vs. comedy

Aristotle divided literature and drama into two main categories: tragedy and comedy. In tragedy, death is always the final victor. No matter how heroic the main characters may be, in the end, they succumb to their flaws and die. In comedy, while there may be great sadness and loss, the story ends with hope and restoration: everyone lives “happily ever after.” The Bible clearly falls within the comedic category; because, while there is much pain, sin and sadness in the Scriptures, it all ends in the triumph of our Saviour’s (and our own) glorious resurrection, and the imminent restoration of all things made new.


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