Now that we’ve hit 100 episodes, we’re time-traveling back to the top episodes of Fantastical Truth. From UFOs to biblical imagination, to dragons versus televangelists, we’ll explore the big ideas our listeners have loved the most, and catch up with any updates about these explorations.
- The Testimony Podcast from Andrew Chamberlain
- Lorehaven Guild: March’s new Book Quest for Lani Forbes’s The Seventh Sun
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The top ten most-played episodes of Fantastical Truth
No. 10: Ep. 67. How Do Fantastic Stories Avoid Preachiness While Still Discipling Readers in Christ? | with L. G. McCary
“Fiction should not preach!” many critics say. They may even preach about it. But even if excellent Christian-made stories should not preach, does this mean the stories will have no teaching at all? Is preaching the only way we learn, or don’t we also learn through discipleship. This includes but isn’t limited to sermons! With help from Lorehaven writer and That Pale Host author L. G. McCary, we explore how great Christian-made stories do have a purpose: not to preach at readers beyond the “fourth wall,” but to help disciple our imaginations in Christ.
You musn’t go outside. If the plague doesn’t get you, the toxic culture will. Let’s be serious: worldview sewage pours out from your TV screen, and new generations of parents (not just grumpy Christians!) are waking up to nasty notions about sex and self-worship in the kids’ stories. That’s dirty stuff infesting our world. Do we need “clean reads” to keep out the filthy fiction?
No. 8: Ep. 88. Can We Positively Engage Culture in a Negative World? | with Bethel McGrew, aka Esther O’Reilly
Christians love engaging fantastical worlds, right down to the real world Jesus calls us to serve. But what kind of world do we truly engage? Do we live in an amazing “positive world,” where most people think Christianity is great? Or do we live in a world that’s neutral toward Christianity—or even a world where most people despise our faith? Our answer helps us stay realistic yet optimistic about how we best engage stories in the real world. Today’s special guest, a recently unmasked “superhero” from the intellectual light web, joins our quest.
We sort through the top ten 2019 articles on Speculative Faith. Then hosts Zack Russell and E. Stephen Burnett count down the top debates we expect to see continue this year. Our topics included the movie Captain Marvel, “Should Christians Enjoy Fantasy?”, “‘Game of Thrones’ sex,” Christian white magic, Ted Chiang’s short story, “Standing Up to the YA Fantasy Impuritans,” and “Sorry Your Dragon Show Ended Stupidly.”
Christian fans often discuss and debate this question: What do we mean by saying that a story is “a Christian story”? Also: Should Christian fans feel they should “look for the Christian label”? Many people say they prefer avoiding the label, such as critics of Christian movies or Christian books. They might say, “We don’t need any more Christian stories. We just need more good stories that happen to be made by Christians.” Let’s talk about what images/meanings we have when we say “a Christian story” or “a Christian movie.”
No. 5: Ep. 80. What if Satan is Planning Alien Conspiracies for the End Times? | The Jake Muller Adventures with Darby Kern
What if you went hunting in the woods and found a Louisiana girl who had just been dropped off by a UFO? Then you tried to help her out while reconnecting with your past, and dropped into that crazy world of conspiracies and possible preparation for the end-times? Will Satan, or perhaps his human agents, use extraterrestrial myths to warm us up for a tribulation? Darby Kern, writer and producer of The Jake Muller Adventures: Unidentified, and many other audio dramas, joins us to explore this challenging world from a biblical worldview.
Hosts E. Stephen Burnett and Zackary Russell launch Lorehaven’s new Fantastical Truth podcast by exploring Patrick W. Carr’s novel The End of the Magi. This biblical historical fiction brings the question: What if the three wise men actually wanted to crown a king? Also: What was the star of Bethlehem? Why did the wise men connect the star with the Messiah? And, what did the Magi hope to do after the found him?
No. 3: Ep. 70. Why Did A 1980s Televangelist Try to Cancel the RPG DragonRaid? | with James R. Hannibal
What if you grew up learning Scripture memory and biblical virtue from a Christian-made tabletop game system? Then you discovered that game had been “cancelled” by an irritated televangelist in the 1980s? That’s a decent setup for a contemporary novel. But in fact, it’s a true story. Now suspense and fantasy novelist James R. Hannibal, owner of the role-playing game known as DragonRaid, joins us to explore this story of dice-rolling, discipleship, death, and rebirth.
Behold the not-shortest episode of Fantastical Truth. This time we delve into the deep-doctrine magic of God’s gift of human imagination. This time we’re joined by biblical/supernatural novelist and nonfiction author Brian Godawa. We trace the development of biblical imagination through God’s creation of the universe, man’s fall into corruption, Christ’s redemption (in the law and gospel across both testaments), and Christ’s future for our renewed world.
Aliens. Oh snap. Audiences love aliens. Aliens! Aliens, from space. Ancient aliens. I don’t know, therefore: aliens. Zack and Stephen launch this latest fantastical truth-finding with clips from U. S. Navy pilots who encountered UFOs. We’ll explore those reports, other alien stories, and how Christians can respond to the very notion of life and even sentient life beyond our planet.
- Zack’s update: ‘Some Kind of Lightning Shooting from the Sky’: Ukrainians Tell Stories of Divine Intervention from the Battlefield
One hero in the Lorehaven Guild remarked about episode 100:
Our local Christian radio station used to play Adventures in Odyssey at 4pm (I think every weekday). At some point, it moved to Saturday mornings and we mostly stopped listening, though occasionally I’ve caught it on the way to work. I was a little young to completely grasp the larger plot arcs, but I have very fond memories of characters and I still remember things that I used to reference all the time. “The cuckoo bird is in the banana tree.” It was so exciting to discover that I recognise the sound of the imagination station. It’s been so long.
Another Guild hero said about episode 100:
Excellent episode! I enjoyed all the background and production information. What a passion project this has been for decades now! I tuned into Christian radio almost exclusively in those days (WMUZ out of Detroit) and was a FotF listener, so I remember Odyssey in that context. Sadly, by the time I had kids, we lived in rural areas where I could no longer pull in the station with any regularity, so it never became part of our family tradition. Either I wasn’t aware of the other formats (tapes and such), or it was edged out by Veggie Tales.
Next on Fantastical Truth
We don’t need social media to know that Christians have deep differences about how we engage with our world. We see these divisions in how we respond to fiction. But what about the times Christians disagree over whether, say, we can publicly challenge evangelical leaders who have platformed controversial government bureaucrats? Or whether we should wear masks, watch particular movies, or vote/not vote for public policy platforms? We’ve touched on these issues ourselves. This time, let’s explore how great stories might help us best discern these debates, and even fight for peace.
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