In a world that groans because of sin, people are talking more about trauma. But less often do we consider our need for truth-based stories to help us seek healing.
People suffer trauma from their choices or others’ abuse, or from our sick world.
Alas, some may wear trauma like chic fashion. Others try to weaponize their sense of trauma to go on a vengeance quest. Or at best, they may fall into forming hero complexes, supposing they can cope with trauma by gaining power to help others.
Presuming the trauma is real, all these responses to it are fake. They don’t identify the sin under which the Earth groans (Romans 8:22). They don’t lead to real healing.
Only in the gospel can we confront trauma. This calls for careful counsel, best if done by trained and loving Christians in local churches. (Of course, some churches mishandle trauma, such as by acting like depression is solely a spiritual problem.)
We can also find well-crafted fiction to help us cope with trauma and seek healing.
Some fans prefer darker, complex stories about trauma. For example, I infamously enjoy the “nobledark” DC films (now including Zack Snyder’s Justice League, releasing in 2021!). These stories use deep themes and grayer areas to simulate suffering. They may help us face hard times, and often include reflected promises of light.
Others of us need lighter, simpler stories with clearer happy endings. Fantasy fans often scoff at such “sentimentalist” Christian fiction. But we can’t deny our reality, in which the people who suffer the worst often prefer the “cheesiest” social dramas.
Still others—I’d group myself here—prefer each type, depending on the struggle.
On some days, I need to watch, say, the anime Attack on Titan, to remind myself that “This world is cruel and merciless, but it is also very beautiful.” On other days, I opt for a lighter comedy, and remind myself that it’s okay to retreat—not away from all reality, but to the happier sides of reality that are just as realistic as the trauma.
Either way, if we are seeking true healing in Jesus, rather than indulging in despair or escapism, these stories can help us cope in ways that help us and glorify Jesus.
Here’s hoping this issue’s reviewed novels not only bring you joy, but help you heal.