For episode 3, we dive into another fantastic Christian-made novel: Sharon Hinck’s fantasy Hidden Current.
In fact, Hidden Current just released last week, from Enclave Publishing.
(We’ll explore books like this every so often, when we find great Christian-made titles we’ve loved and that Lorehaven reviews.)
For this episode, Zack Russell and E. Stephen Burnett are joined by their first Fantastical Truth guest, Lacy Rhiannon. She taught dance for many years, loves fantastical stories, and helps out with Lorehaven (and happens to be Stephen’s wife and best friend).
Key theme: What if dancing could control the world?
Here’s the summary for Hidden Current
When your every foot movement and gesture literally controls your world, people will expect you to avoid any false move. But for dancer Calara Blue, her trained pursuit of perfection has come at a terrible cost.
At the center of Calara’s world, the all-powerful Order has called the best dancers to use their natural abilities to stabilize their island. Without dancers who command the storms and the island’s very position, the island and its ecosystem will drift out of control. So dancers like Calara have pledged their lives to fulfill this high calling.
Then, just as Calara reaches her goal, she discovers that, just maybe, the island does not want to be controlled. Instead, she is forced into fleeing her rigid lifestyle with its every rule and religious belief that she has spent years helping to enforce. Accompanied by a mysterious fisherman, Calara hunts for her own past and for the truth about her beautiful yet dehumanized profession—and its original purpose.
Here’s what we love about Hidden Current
- Great ideas, such as key themes based on the very idea of stories/creativity/art and their ultimate purpose.
- Vivid imagery, thanks to a floating and fantastical Perelandra-inspired island world.
- Calara Blue, who escapes a cult, could have gone wrong but readers will feel very drawn to her side.
- This world is fantasy, but not the castles-and-knights kind; it feels original.
- Also, there’s lots of dancing, which leads to our exploration with our first guest.
Biblical support for dancing
“Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women went out after her with tambourines and dancing.”
— Exodus 15:20 (this verse is descriptive, cf. 1 Samuel 18:6, 2 Samuel 6:14)
“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness.”
—Psalm 30:11 (this verse is lightly prescriptive, that is, an implied command for God’s people)
“Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!”
—Psalm 149:3 (this verse is very prescriptive! it’s a command for God’s people)
“Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe!”
—Psalm 150:4 (again, a command)
“Again I will build you, and you shall be built, O virgin Israel! Again you shall adorn yourself with tambourines and shall go forth in the dance of the merrymakers.”
—Jeremiah 31:4 (this is a more prophetic verse that presumes the eternal good of dance)
Our experience with dance
- Lacy learned and taught dance for many years, including ballet, tap, and jazz, often at a private Christian creative arts school
- Zack’s family members have danced, and he recalls occasionally wishing he could be the cool star of the school dances.
- Stephen wasn’t taught dance was evil, but grew up indifferent to this, save for some performances in old movies.
Other links we mentioned (or should have)
- A Bharatanatyam Dance to Worship Jesus (YouTube video)
- Weirdness in Church? Or: The Adventure of the Dancing Men (Stephen’s SpecFaith article)
- Sharon Hinck on Story Evangelism (Sharon Hinck’s SpecFaith article)
- Beneath the Hidden Current: On Floating Islands and Dolphins (Sharon Hinck’s SpecFaith article)
Stephen on the Cultural Mandate
These mentions of dance in Scripture only make sense when you fit them into the bigger biblical idea: that God made humans to be creative in his image (Genesis 1:28).
Theologians call this the Cultural Mandate.
That’s why we have cultural forms. That’s why we have creative gifts and imagination.
Even in Genesis, after the fall, we see the narrators summarizing these amazing cultures that made technology and musical instruments.
Why would God include those histories? I think it’s a reminder of a lost world.
All that music (and dancing, and art) has been lost. That’s tragic. Because of sin.
Some Christians from sheltered/legalistic environments sometimes wake up and think something like: “Hey, all that stuff was actually good all along, so let’s just accept it all!”
Well, that’s a baby step in the right direction.
But you have to run the whole way, away from the notion of “it’s all evil” but past the equally silly notion of “it’s all good.”
You have to get to the biblical concept that God gives these gifts, man corrupts them, but Jesus redeems them.
No spoilers, but I love how Sharon Hinck explores this in particular in Hidden Current.
What do you think?
Tell us your experience with dance. Do you dance? Wish you could? Grow up loving it, hating it, or indifferent?
If you grew up Christian, did your church acknowledge singing and dance in worship?
Or did Christian leaders condemn dance based on sinful abuses of it (cough, cough, halftime shows, anyone?).
On our next episode
Next time on Fantastical Truth, we will explore more than seven big topics (and debates) Christian fantasy fans had throughout 2019, like:
- Strong female heroes, such as Captain Marvel
- “Cancel culture” versus YA novel diversity
- And of course, Game of Thrones (twice).
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