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Only the Beginning of the Adventure

In 2021, Lorehaven becomes an all-digital monthly to help share excellent Christian-made fantastical stories with the Church.
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Lorehaven has shared eleven cover stories since 2018, all focusing on fantastical Christian authors. Now, we must share our first cover story about Lorehaven itself.

We start with this announcement: In January 2021, Lorehaven becomes a monthly webzine. Free subscribers will get everything at Lorehaven.com. There, readers will find now-weekly reviews of the best new Christian-made fantasy, sci-fi, and beyond.

Timely and monthly articles will arrive from an expanded super-team of creators.

Even timelier, short updates will share all the news in Christian fantasy fandom.

And of course, we’ll keep creating weekly episodes of the Fantastical Truth podcast and supporting the SpecFaith portal—the first site from which Lorehaven sprang.

Lorehaven’s origin

If you’re new to this world, many Christian fans and authors have for years shared a passion to promote and create more excellent fantastic stories that glorify Jesus.

In the mid-2000s, several such creators began finding one another at conferences and on the internet. Some created independent publishers to spread these novels. Others started ministry blogs, including the original Speculative Faith site in 2006.

(SpecFaith continues today as part of Lorehaven, sourced by volunteer writers.)

In 2018, Lorehaven.com began publishing exclusive reviews and articles, unlockable to free subscribers. We also designed and distributed print magazines. Fans could download PDF files from our website, order physical copies from a third-party printer, or purchase copies at select events such as homeschool conferences.

In December 2019, Lorehaven also added our store with gift items.

In January 2020, we launched the weekly Fantastical Truth podcast.

Then in summer 2020, we began publicly sharing all our reviews at Lorehaven.com.

Lorehaven’s upgrade

Meanwhile, we all began dealing with one of those fantastic elements that gets mentioned in dystopian novels (“Scientists called it ‘COVID-19.’ But the underclasses called it The Blight. It threatened everyone, yet ravaged their elderly and infirm.”)

Our last fully printed issue arrived in spring 2020. Then event cancellations kept us from designing and printing further print issues, or reaching new readers in person.

Existing fans, however, did not change much. While movie theaters shut down and filmmakers struggled with streaming, many book fans found more time for reading. They still want resources for finding the best fantastic stories. Books keep selling. Not even digital copies are pushing “real” books off the shelves. People love books.

To help share these joys with more readers, Lorehaven will go all-digital.

Lorehaven’s mission strategy

  1. Before: We shared limited articles. Now: We will share monthly articles from a larger super-team of creators, who apply fantasy’s wonders to real life in Christ. This comes along with continued articles from the original site, Speculative Faith!
  2. Before: We shared quarterly sets of reviews. Now: We will post reviews weekly.
  3. Before: We had fewer ad slots for authors to showcase their stories, joining our mission with theirs. Now: We’re adding more support for these great stories.
  4. Now: We will share short updates about new releases, or breaking/trending news.
  5. Now: We’re joining with allies to help connect all the circles of Christian fans.
  6. Now: We will keep sharing weekly episodes of the Fantastical Truth podcast.
  7. Finally: We’re emphasizing free email subscriptions so fans can receive what they need most. Follow us on social media! But the email subscription is best.

Lorehaven’s mission

Our mission isn’t simply to promote fantastical stories to niche audiences. That’s only a great start. Nor do our reviewers and writers take so much time only to push a favorite hobby. Rather, we believe that fantastical stories uniquely glorify Jesus. His people, the Church, actually need these excellent, imaginative stories—just like we need great songs, more biblical sermons, and close fellowship with one another.

Yes, we can find great stories on streaming services or in comic stores. These tales often reflect God’s truths and beauties. They may have higher quality than some Christian-made stories. It doesn’t hurt that these stories get super popular with mass audiences, warranting bigger budgets, mass marketing, and mega-franchises.

Still, there’s nothing like excellent stories from authors who are not only creatively gifted by God, but who are members of our spiritual family. Many such creators not only make fantastic fiction, but know the secret purposes of these stories: to help us glorify Jesus and enjoy Jesus forever. These stories are not just for distraction or entertainment. They exist to help us find happiness and holiness in our Creator.

That’s why we at Lorehaven want to help the Church—Jesus’s special called-out people who disciple one another—embrace and raise the popularity of Christian-made fantastical stories. That way, we will get more and better fiction that can help us not only think more like Jesus, but imagine his truth and beauty in our hearts.

Lorehaven’s mission: going deeper

To pursue this mission, we have a unique view of reaching new fans. It may help to contrast this view with an opposite assumption, using two fantastical tropes.

Trope 1: ‘The Chosen One’ saves the land

For a while, some Christian fantasy advocates have followed a “chosen one” model of finding new readers. Fantasy fans know this concept, in which the story’s hero, likely an orphan or other isolated character, has special lineage and/or abilities. She is destined to fulfill prophecy, and/or defeat the evil darkness, and/or rule the land.

Some fans have worked hard to promote one or more individual Christian authors. We suppose these creators can then “break out,” get popular, and also attain the Sword of Destiny that will Purge Darkness from All the Kingdom. No longer will anything labeled “Christian fiction” be the victim of sentimentality or scorn! Instead, our favorite chosen-one authors can also draw attention to other fantastical novels and help to promote their authors, and creative justice will reign o’er the world.

Trope 2: We all help ‘terraform’ the Church

That’s one fantastical trope. Without dismissing it entirely, we might say Lorehaven actually favors the second fantastical trope: the idea of terraforming.

Sci-fi fans know this concept. Here, colonists start with an uninhabitable world, such as the planet Mars. They use many means to transform this territory into a thriving world where people can live and work outside, just as we would on most of Earth.

We believe Christian fantasy fans (and authors) can best serve the Church by slowly “terraforming” their own worlds: in homes, churches, schools, and workplaces.

This approach best reminds us why fantastical stories uniquely glorify God, and can even help make us into better disciples of Jesus in the Church. Only then can we reflect his image more brightly into the world. “Terraforming” also better resembles our Creator’s original command to humans in Genesis 1:28. He wants us acting as stewards who use his gifts, such as imagination, to make culture that glorifies him.

This view offers greater potential than the “chosen one” view for long-term success. By following this terraforming mission, we stand a better chance of helping to build not just fanbases of hundreds for particular authors, but generations of thousands of fans who naturally love and share these kinds of stories from any excellent creator.

To be sure, Jesus says some servants will be given more “talents” and yield more results (Matthew 25:14–30). Similarly, some creators will have more gifts or success. So it still makes sense to rally around authors who best demonstrate these gifts.

Yet all of us, fans and authors alike, can go beyond waiting for “chosen one” authors to help the Church and our world love excellent Christian-made stories. Instead, we can follow our once-for-all Chosen One, Jesus. In light of his gospel that changes our hearts and then our world, we can joyfully work as members of the Church to steward our gifts—including that amazing gift of exploring new worlds for his glory.

As C. S. Lewis wrote, that’s “only the beginning of the adventure.” We’re not just training to enjoy fantasy worlds today, or even to enjoy today’s real world better in light of the gospel. Were literally training for the fantastic world Jesus has promised to bring forever: the New Heavens and New Earth, where “fantasy” becomes real.

Take action! Join Lorehaven’s terraforming mission

Want to help “terraform” your worlds to spread excellent Christian-made fantasy?

  1. Subscribe free to updates at Lorehaven.com!
  2. Follow our social pages, like Twitter and Facebook.
  3. Share the site and its purpose with like-minded friends.
  4. Let us know in your feedback how we can better serve you.
  5. Make time for browsing reviews and articles about great stories.
  6. Subscribe to your favorite Christian publishers, authors, and beyond.
  7. Buy their books, and if you can, buy directly from publishers and small stores.
  8. Form routines for reading their great stories—and keep your expectations high!
  9. Ask at your church or school (when they re-gather for real!) about hosting a class to explore the Christian imagination, or a book club to enjoy this great fiction.
  10. Pray for Jesus to “terraform” Christian fans and Church subcultures to love more fantastic stories, in his own time and only in ways that maximize his glory.
E. Stephen Burnett explores fantastical stories for God’s glory as publisher of Lorehaven.com and its weekly Fantastical Truth podcast. He coauthored The Pop Culture Parent and creates other resources for fans and families, serving with his wife, Lacy, in their central Texas church. Stephen's first novel, a science-fiction adventure, launches in 2025 from Enclave Publishing.
E. Stephen Burnett explores fantastical stories for God’s glory as publisher of Lorehaven.com and its weekly Fantastical Truth podcast. He coauthored The Pop Culture Parent and creates other resources for fans and families, serving with his wife, Lacy, in their central Texas church. Stephen's first novel, a science-fiction adventure, launches in 2025 from Enclave Publishing.

What say you?