Once upon a time, there was a mean old man who lived on a mountain. Now, this old man was very nasty to the townspeople, his dogs, and especially Christians! Then one day, he yelled so loud at a Christian that an avalanche came and destroyed his cabin. (Text your friends: God’s not dead, but this old man is!)
If you didn’t like that story, how about the one where there was this faraway land, with the White Hats and the Black Hats, and the Black Hats just want to kill everyone, especially White Hats, who just want to be free to love?
But seriously. Few fans like a preachy story. As Christians, however, how do we best respond when secular stories start getting especially preachy?
1. What’s wrong with preachy stories?
- Christians actually follow two biblical “commissions.”
- Stories most directly fit within the Cultural Mandate (Gen. 1:28).
- However, preaching fits within the Great Commission (Matt 28:16–20).
- If your story preaches, or your preaching only story-tells, these are a mismatch.
- Preachy stories may preach truths in cringe-like fashion, or may preach straight-up wrong ideas.
2. Are we sure we don’t secretly want preachy stories?
- We won’t only critique Christian-made stories here.
- Christians still have a history of wanting preachy stories.
- Zack shares about a short film he wrote called “Cabernet.”
- One viewer critiqued that film for not being preachy enough.
- Of course, secular storytellers (especially nowadays) are preaching plenty.
3. What secular fantasy stories stand out as the preachiest?
- A Captain America comic seems to villainize Dr. Jordan Peterson as The Red Skull.
- Avatar: The Legend of Korra‘s creators “cause-juked” their own 2015 series finale.
- Some viewers fault this year’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier for getting preachy.
- Starting within a single year, multiple DC shows on The CW network turned preachy-“woke.”
- Michael Crichton’s 2004 novel State of Fear lectured against global warming, complete with authorial self-insert.
Andrew Chamberlain wrote:
I feel compelled to write to you because I have had one of those “it’s not just me then!” moments whilst listening to episode 55 of the Fantastical Truth podcast, and specifically the point that was made about how there may well be an opportunity for Christians to tap into the significant discontent that exists with most of the current output in the fantastic genres. That discontent is expressed by Christians and non-Christians as a reaction to the way storytelling is currently being subverted by an ideological agenda. I have been close to despair myself in the past about these things and to hear someone else articulate the problem with current content, and to describe the opportunity it might present to Christians, was quite a revelation. My own objection to the ideological campaign in the fantastic genres is often not even the content of some of the arguments (it would be nice to be able to even discuss these things in a civil manner!) but the insistent, dictatorial tone, the intolerance of other ideas, the way stories are subverted and damaged by the agenda, people are bullied and cancelled, and the hypocrisy of the proponents of that new ideological agenda.
Next on Fantastical Truth
Engineers create human-ish robots to use for fake romance and other deeds of a less-than-savory nature. Meanwhile, researchers suggest a microchip you insert into your skin that can detect viruses. We know real-life scientists keep ignoring Dr. Ian Malcolm’s Jurassic Park warning, and keep being so preoccupied about whether or not they could that they don’t stop to think if they should. But why don’t real reseachers heed sci-fi warnings against mad science?
Explore the best Christian-made fantasy, sci-fi, and beyond, and apply these stories' meanings in the real world Jesus calls us to serve.