“Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch.” In Colossians 2, the apostle Paul says these regulations made up by man won’t keep you from sin’s infection! But similar rules might protect you from viral infections. So what do we think of these rules when a vaccine comes along? How do we respond to changing views on wearing masks? And how does this whole mask and vaccine situation map pretty much perfectly onto Christian debates about “infections” in fiction?
Next weekend, Lorehaven arrives in Orlando for renewed questing with our Realm Makers Bookstore allies.
Realm Makers Bookstore will share its worlds of novels by Christian authors—fantasy, sci-fi, and beyond—at Florida Parent Educators Association, May 27–29 in Orlando. The bookstore will host several award-winning creators of Christian-made fantastical tales.
Guests include Phil Lollar and Katie Leigh with Adventures in Odyssey, fantasy authors James Hannibal and Matt Mikalatos, sci-fi author Steve Rzasa as well as fantasy novelist and Realm Makers co-founder Rebecca P. Minor with co-founder Scott Minor. Stephen will join them to sign books and share a panel discussion. In two sessions, he will explore Why Do Your Kids Need Fantastic Stories for Christ’s Glory? and What’s the Point of Popular Culture and Why Should Parents Care? Learn more at Lorehaven.com.
- What’s our recent experience with plagues, masks, and vaccines?
- How do viruses, masks, and vaccines “rhyme” with sin, the law, and grace?
- How do we apply these real-life parables to “viruses” in fantastic fiction?
- Needless to say, we’re not doing vaccine theories/conspiracies/debates here.
- We’ll also avoid rants about useless quarantines. Others cover that stuff.
- Zack and Stephen have varying personalities/needs about all this. So do you!
- Comparing sin to illness is risky. The Bible says “dead.” Analogies have limits.
- Another limit: sin-viruses comes from within ourselves, not a corrupt world.
1. What’s our recent experience with plagues, masks, and vaccines?
- Everyone has a different story in this tale. We may like to pretend otherwise.
- We are both vaccinated and ready to move on, often foregoing masks.
- We’ve already encountered contexts in which masks seem necessary.
2. How do plagues/masks/vaccines ‘rhyme’ with sin/the law/grace?
- Note that this isn’t about just trying to avoid legalism, e.g. legaliception!
- It’s always about trying to be biblical and follow Jesus our Savior.
- The virus is real. Sin is real. Both are dangerous. Both could kill you. (Sin will.)
- So far as we know, masks are effective. They’re like the original Law of God.
- But now the vaccine has come. So has Jesus, the fulfillment of the Law.
- If we’ve been “vaccinated” against sin, why would we go back to “masks”?
Some may wear masks to act like ‘spiritual’ heroes for other people.
Stephen wrote this thought experiment comparing two kinds of legalism:
FIGURE 1a: “Even if the gospel removes from me all serious risks of catching evil, and even if spiritual authorities say you can practice freedom in Christ if you’re in the gospel, I will still follow religious rules, because if I don’t, Someone Out There May Be Tempted to Sin (by enjoying false freedom without actually being in Christ).”
FIGURE 2a: “Even if vaccines remove from me all serious risks of catching COVID-19, and even if government authorities say you can practice freedom to unmask if you’re vaccinated, I will still wear my mask, because if I don’t, Someone Out There May Be Tempted to Sin (by enjoying false freedom without actually being vaccinated).”
FIGURE 1b: “If I don’t wear high necklines or long skirts, then men who see me may be Tempted to Sin because of my immodesty, so therefore I must wear the extra cover to guard them from sinning.”
FIGURE 2b: “If I don’t wear masks inside and outside, then people who see me may be Tempted to Sin because of my recklessness, so therefore I must wear the extra cover to guard them from sinning.”
Can anyone give me any reasons why these two different sets of fundamentalist ideology—the first fake religious “spirituality, and the second secular fake “science”—are not the same legalistic energy? Because they really sound like the same legalistic energy.
But we might keep wearing masks for other reasons:
- You may have genuine health weakness/trauma that warrants more caution.
- You may feel fearful about others removing masks without being vaccinated.
- You may be accustomed to following the mask tradition (see other benefits).
- You may feel like your people, or better societies overseas, rightly mask up.
- Every one of these “maps” onto the reasons people fall back into the law.
- Let’s be sensitive to these, but realize: they’re about weakness, not conviction.
3. How do we apply these parables to “viruses” in fiction?
- Even if we’re under grace, we’re often weak and fiction is strong.
- That’s why we try to be sensitive about people’s limits on fiction.
- We’ve talked of nudity/sexual content, magnifying society’s greatest idols.
- Language can arouse anger. Attitudes are contagious. Violence can wound.
- So sometimes we do need to have those “rules” to compensate for weakness.
- Ultimately we hope in our resurrection to perfect health by our Great Physician.
Author Meg MacDonald wrote about episode 63:
I’ve been a fan of the podcast right from the very first episode, but this one really stands out as a favorite. I wasn’t ready for this one to end at all. It was loads of fun, but challenging at the same time. It would have been really easy to present this topic in a way that cost you fellas all credibility, but you pulled it off and did it with style, digging deep into scripture. I found it both thought provoking and well articulated. I had already put a great deal of thought into this topic as it impacts my Wolf’s Oath series—though not readily apparent in the first book, not unless you pick up on subtleties. Now, I wonder if part of the reason I’ve been having trouble finding my footing again as a writer is because I have some additional thinking to do.
Next on Fantastical Truth
Lord willing, after Stephen returns from the Florida Parent Educators Association conference in Florida, he will share how families react to the Realm Makers Bookstore sharing Christian-made fantasy, sci-fi, and beyond.
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