Welcome again to SpookTober, now available in a special Extended Edition. Thanks to the generous sponsors of 2020, you can now enjoy scary news, terrifying threats, and spine-chilling viral stories, not just at Halloween, but all year long!
During this un-holiday season, your exact monsters may vary in size and species.
Family health scares abound. Travel is limited even in states that have opened. Small businesses have collapsed, and even larger businesses are struggling. For Lorehaven, all live conferences were cancelled, so we had to go web-only. (This may bring more upgrades to Lorehaven going into 2021. Watch this space for news.)
Imagine traveling back to fall 2019 and predicting to such a naive populace that they will soon face this weirdness, and for many others, even worse suffering.
Lest this sound too terrible, this year may have also brought you some benefits.
For instance, since spring 2020, my wife and I have kept my day jobs. Hers even got an upgrade. We’ve stayed healthy. Late in the summer, we even moved to a new house and returned to full-time foster care—this time, with teenagers, and times two. If not for pandemic tumult, we may not have accepted these happy challenges.
Oh, and my first book released, The Pop Culture Parent: Helping Kids Engage Their World for Christ. It’s nonfiction with my friends Ted Turnau and Jared Moore. Thanks to this, I’ve been blessed to write more articles and even speak at virtual events.
This fall, however, I’ve likely been happiest to resume a discipline of reading new books, like C. S. Lewis collections, Bram Stoker’s Dracula (a re-read), and of course new Christian-made fantastic titles. Those novels include Emily Hayse’s Realm Award–winning Seventh City. Her marvelous “cozy-epic” fantasy, set in a chilly land reminiscent of Alaska, helps remind me why I love and believe in these stories.
Alas, too many Christian readers still don’t even know these stories exist.
Maybe we’re too distracted by the most popular pop culture. This is easier to find and known to everyone (so we feel better enjoying it). Or we see that our world is beset with plagues, persecution, and political struggles. We ask: shouldn’t we devote more time to these real needs rather than try to escape to some fantasy?
One answer, of course, comes from J. R. R. Tolkien’s classic essay “On Fairy-Stories”:
“Escape is one of the main functions of fairy-stories, and since I do not disapprove of them, it is plain that I do not accept the tone of scorn or pity with which ‘Escape’ is now so often used. Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls?”
Still, with all due respect to the professor, I’m actually not trying to use fantastical novels to get out of jail and simply go home. Rather, I want to “escape” to fantasy worlds, spend time there to train as a better person for Christ’s glory, and then move back and forth between those “homes” and “prisons” to help others.
Anyway, reality isn’t the prison. It’s just held captive and groaning because of sin. One day the groaning will end. In that day, all those fantastical notes, which we just managed to hear alongside the groans, will transform into God’s eternal song.
There, we shall no longer have mourning, pain, masks, or social hatred. The former things will have passed away, and all that good “fantasy” will be fulfilled by the King.
Let any “escapist” stories you enjoy help you long for this real-life future.