Tomorrow, new Lorehaven writer Shannon Stewart explores how people often reduce Venus to a symbol of love and romance, when in fact that planet’s influence grows far deeper.
Shannon Stewart is a homeschooling mom of three and high school English teacher with an MA in English literature. She reads widely and voraciously, but her favorites are still books by and about C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. Her other interests include video games, Anglo-Saxons, and all forms of cheese. She blogs at The Word-Hoard, and all her (hitherto unpublished) fiction somehow ends up with the central theme of memory.
1. How did you first discover biblical faith and fantastic stories?
I grew up in a Christian home but struggled with major doubts about Scripture’s truth in college. My doubts got to the point where I wasn’t sure I believed God existed at all, and if He did exist, I didn’t like him. I would literally sit on my dorm room bed and glare at my Bible in hatred. By God’s grace, my brother dragged me to the church where I still attend today—though at first I stayed only because I knew I was angry and cynical, and I saw the people at the church had joy that I lacked. Gradually, God led me to realize that if the Bible was true, then I was in serious trouble for my ugly hatred toward God. But if Scripture was true, God had also graciously provided a way for me to be saved! All the doubts I’d nursed for years felt feeble in comparison to the glorious truth that I now lived.
My love for fantastic stories began much earlier, and it began with video games. In elementary school I found Sonic the Hedgehog and, later, The Legend of Zelda. These video game narratives allowed ample room for my active imagination to create new stories within the framework of the worlds they presented.
I discovered Tolkien in high school and Lewis in college, and have found in them firm friends whose fictions point me toward true purpose, toward the fact that reality is more than material, and toward God who satisfies all the deep desires that fiction awakens in me.
2. What stories are you enjoying presently, non-fiction and fiction?
I just finished William Makepeace Thackeray’s absolutely delightful Vanity Fair and I am this close to being done with George Mueller’s unabridged autobiography (I’m not allowed to play Fire Emblem: Three Houses again until that’s done). I’m also in the midst of a bunch of books on polar exploration: White Darkness by David Grann, Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez, and soon The Arctic Fury by Greer Macallister. I figured they were seasonal.
As a family, we just finished our first full run of Avatar: The Last Airbender with the girls. Family reading night is for Peter Brown’s The Wild Robot, and we will always be in the midst of one or another of Focus on the Family’s The Chronicles of Narnia audio dramas.
3. What are your fantastic goals for the future?
In all my fiction writing, teaching, and blogging, perhaps my biggest soapbox is that much of our modern dissatisfaction and angst is coming from our chronological snobbery: the delusion that we as a society are marching forward, with the ability to mold reality to fit our desires. With this blind faith in progress, we dismiss the vast sweep of humanity that has come before, thinking they have nothing to teach us. Humans of the past did get a lot wrong—just as we one day will be revealed to have gotten a lot wrong. And one of the things we’ve gotten wrong (which our ancestors understood) is that reality is objective, and that there is a spiritual dimension to it which we ignore at our own peril.
Jesus is the answer to all the spiritual needs we try, in our barren, hopeless way, to ignore.
God willing, one day I will write fiction that points to this theme, but until then, I will champion it wherever I find it and teach it passionately to my children and students.
All stories, one way or another, point toward our deep need for the Gospel story. And the Gospel story is not only better than we ever could have dreamed—it’s true.
Look for Shannon Stewart’s first article, “Venus is More Than Just a Love Goddess,” tomorrow (Thursday, Feb. 18) at Lorehaven.com.