40. How May Fantastic Stories Help Us See Politics in Biblical Perspective?
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For generations, politics have been taking over imaginations. This seems especially true in the United States this election year. But is this really true? In fact, we all have little imaginations, experiences and pictures hidden deep in our minds, that influence our views on politics and public policies.
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- Obviously, we won’t talk about who to vote for in any elections.
- We’ll also try to make this topic more “evergreen,” not locked in place/time.
- However, we will talk about some public policy, at least on the way.
- We do assume that “voting” is a Christian’s civic responsibility.
- We also assume that religious freedom is real and worth fighting for.
- At the same time, Christians don’t run society like a local church. We often debate what this means.
- Another assumption: we’re not like an Old Testament society. Leaders are not kings or even Caesars.
- We prefer irreverent humor about politics, to prevent it from becoming too much of an idol.
Now, how can fantasy help better shape our views on politics, public policy, and perceptions of elected leaders?
1. Stories help us explore how messy our world is, with hard choices.
- Shallow stories often pretend the world is simple, with easy choices.
- Good guys versus bad guys, no antiheroes, no villains with complex stories.
- Bible heroes are not always the good guys, and “sinners” aren’t always the bad guys.
- Historical figures and early church leaders aren’t always good, compared to bad guys.
- Reality isn’t like that. The best stories remind us of this uncomfortable fact.
- Darth Vader and other horrible villains might have a good heart deep down.
- Christians can behave abusively, while God works good in secular authorities.
- Oh, and you might have to vote for a bad guy, to prevent a worse bad guy.
2. Stories help us see reality apart from modern labels and stigmas.
- Not long ago we talked about C. S. Lewis’s “watchful dragons.”
- Lewis didn’t just make pictures for fun. He thought about their practical use.
- Similarly, a modern creator may start with images, but also think as citizens.
- This is why I think it’s good for stories to engage with public policy issues.
- This isn’t about specific political parties. It’s about the deeper beliefs we have.
- Stories can reduce these issues to their elemental form. We see them anew.
- We can also “simulate” the consequences of particular ideas in another world.
- We can also see human sources of beliefs, for example, the Sexualityism religion.
- Stories like The Island, Frank Peretti’s novel Prophet, Star Trek, and Doctor Who explore human life’s dignity.
3. Stories help us see that we can’t simply bludgeon one another with “Facts.”
- Memes and stories help subvert the weird ideas we have without knowing it.
- Stories remind us that even political opponents have their tragic backstories.
- By the way, it’s good to recall this in debates: lived experience shapes belief.
- For example, no one is ever, socialism-curious because socialists make great points.
- They’re socialism-curious often partly because of bad experiences that they associate with whatever they regard as “capitalism.”
- Modern politics is a dark pit that can swallow our soul.
- This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t be vote or be involved in politics. Many faithful Christians are!
- But without Christ as our ultimate king, we can lose our souls as we fight the other side.
L. G. McCary wrote:
Zack’s comments about how he would fall asleep watching 24 reminded me of this story: back in high school, a camp director started a sermon by saying that for him, watching Star Trek was a sin. I rolled my eyes because I grew up on Star Trek. Then he explained that he usually did his quiet time in the evenings before bed, and he found that when he watched Star Trek, he was so excited or interested in what he’d just watched that he couldn’t focus on reading his Bible and hearing from God. He finally quit watching the show altogether. He ended the sermon by saying “I’m not saying watching Star Trek is a sin. I’m saying for me, Star Trek damaged my relationship with God and watching it became a sin. I want you to think about the things in your life that might not be inherently sinful but are still a hindrance to your walk with Christ. Throw them off so you can run your race well, even if it feels silly.”
Next on Fantastical Truth
This year, Stephen cancelled Netflix. Lots of other people did, and maybe you should too? Or maybe you are like Zack, and you find other ways to protect your family and influence others. Meanwhile, we just had another Halloween, which is its own subject of many boycotts. Should Christians join boycotts? Will this change anything in the world? Or could this practice help change ourselves? Cap Stewart joins us to explore this complex issue with grace and truth.
Explore the best Christian-made fantasy, sci-fi, and beyond, and apply these stories' meanings in the real world Jesus calls us to serve.
What say you?