By T.K. Wilson
By: T.K. Wilson
Word Count: 1008
Summary: “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
How many of us, on a bad day, have wanted to travel to our favorite fantasy world? How many of us have said those most magical of words “I Wish…?” How many of us feel that our favorite characters are our friends?
Who wouldn’t want heroes like Aragorn, Frodo, Robin Hood, Gawain, Aladdin, Martin the Warrior, Harry Potter, and the rest on their side? What girl can read about or watch Arwen, Eowyn, Jasmine, Belle, Hermione, Laterose, and Marian, and not want to be brave and resourceful like them? Who wouldn’t want to be an Elf-Friend, or find a fairy mound on a ramble in the woods?
Most fantasy enthusiasts will respond in the affirmative to all these questions, more than likely with a good natured jab at their own geekiness. When things seem messed up, the stories we love provide a world where stuff’s not so bad. We know who the bad guy is, and we know he’ll be beaten in the end. It’s the ultimate safe space, where peace and friendship reign. How much we would love to bring a little bit of the peace and safety and that happy ending feeling to the real world!
G.K. Chesterton wrote in Orthodoxy’s most famous chapter, “The Ethics of Elfland”:
“The things I believed most then, the things I believe most now, are the things called fairy tales. They seem to me to be the entirely reasonable things. They are not fantasies: compared with them other things are fantastic. Compared with them religion and rationalism are both abnormal, though religion is abnormally right and rationalism abnormally wrong. Fairyland is nothing but the sunny country of common sense. It is not earth that judges heaven, but heaven that judges earth; so for me at least it was not earth that criticised elfland, but elfland that criticised the earth.”
Chesterton goes on to say fantasy shows us the abnormal rationality of Christianity in a way that is simpler to understand for the most part. We can understand why Cinderella is able to marry the Prince and the Stepsisters are not- she is rewarded for her goodness by a higher power. We understand why the Beast demands a sacrifice in exchange for his rose- his priorities are messed up.
The bottom line is that we as humans want to and must believe in something better and more wonderful than ourselves. But like the Beast, our priorities are messed up. Many people look to the fantastic to show them some form of greater power than themselves, and the natural bent of man takes this to extremes. For most fans, the only extreme they would venture to would be a vast collection of merchandise (not that there’s anything wrong with buying enjoyable things!), but other fans seek something different.
There exists a small minority of people called “otherkin”, people who believe that they are born with the soul of a different creature. As I read on a website belonging to a woman who calls herself “Memory”, many of these people feel as if they are alienated from their true home (“What Are Otherkin?”). They feel like this planet and humanity are not where they are supposed to be, so they come to the conclusion that they must be something else. Many times, this manifests as believing they are an animal or a fantasy creature. Most of us would agree this is really strange and kind of scary, but yet, understandable if you look at it from a certain angle.
What drives the otherkin and those seeking “real” occultic magic to do this? It is because of two interconnected reasons: they for the most part have been raised in the secular world and desire some control over their lives that secularism cannot give them (and thirdly, humans can be horrible sometimes). Because they have been taught that God is not there, they must seek out something else to give them some modicum of control over their environment, these being “real magic” and identifying as some other creature than human gives them the control they crave.
What is to be done here? First, we as Christian fantasy fans must realize that most of the time, these people are hurting. They have turned to these extremes because at some point in the past they’ve been hurt badly enough that fantasy is the only thing that makes sense. They can’t live in the real world, so they hide out in a fantasy one. Secondly, while we cannot and should not endorse their lifestyle choices or delusions, we should treat the people engaged in these sorts of traps with kindness and dignity. Thirdly, we should be on the lookout for opportunities to share the Good News with them, perhaps using their favorite fandoms as springboards, like St. Paul on Mars Hill did with Greek poetry in Acts 17.
Fantasy fiction of all sorts contains pale reflections of the truths of the Gospel. We cannot help but see them as we read and watch, something about them resonates within us deeper than simple adventure and escape. It leaves only one conclusion: “He has planted eternity (i.e. another world) in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) We just have to help others find the real other world of Heaven, and their true guide, Jesus.
Chesterton, G. K. “The Ethics of Elfland.” N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Christian Classics Ethereal Library/Orthodoxy. CCEL.org, 13 July 2005. Web. 23 June 2017.
Ecclesiastes. BibleHub/New Living Translation. Tyndale House, 2007. Web. 23 June 2017.
Lewis, C. S. “A Quote from Mere Christianity.” Goodreads. Goodreads, 2017. Web. 23 June 2017.
“Memory”. “What Are Otherkin.” DrinkDeeplyandDream.com. N.p., 2001. Web. 23 June 2017.