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This room is for discussion related to learning about the faith (Catechetics), defense of the Faith (Apologetics), the Liturgy and canon law, motivated by a desire to grow closer to Christ or to bring someone else closer.

Saint Augustine of Hippo is considered on of the greatest Christian thinkers of all time and the Doctor of the Church.
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I would like to hear you insight on how literature, in this case Fantasy and Science Fiction can carry the Gospel, in a way to permeate in this secular world.. I read a book about J.R.R. Tolkien called: "Sanctifying Myth." I would like to discuss this with you, since I write in the genre and would like to make a contribution to what Mr. Tolkien did. The book emphasizes on Tolkien's Middle Earth Mythology as a subcreation and as an echo to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Do you think one can effectively help evangelize the world using Fantasy/Science Fiction?
Jun 25th 2013 new
Interesting question, and there's a lot to be said about it. I think fiction, and in particular genre fiction, can be a powerful weapon in evangelization. A good chunk of what makes a culture is the stories it tells, and we take a surprising number of the ideas and assumptions which we live by from the stories we hear. In terms of what you're specifically talking about, regarding mythology, I think the main use of mythology is in giving abstract ideas substance and making them concrete. Taking a random idea from Tolkien as an example, the derivitiveness of evil - that evil has no existence of its own but is only corrupted good - is a fairly abstract idea which Tolkien makes explicit by the existence of the Orcs, the Nazgul, and so on as corrupted beings. So, myth and fiction can be great tools for evangelizing, but I'd add a word of caution: don't focus too much on evangelizing. No one will read your books just because they express a Catholic worldview (or at least, very few people). Anyone would read your book, regardless of the view it expressed, if it's a good story. I think the biggest problem with Catholic art in the modern world is that it focuses too much on being Catholic and not enough on being good. Okay, hope that's enough to get started with.
Jun 25th 2013 new
David,

thanks for the post, it was very thoughtful. I will elaborate more of what you said in the next few days, as its past midnight here in Germany, and I have to go to sleep, but that was a great answer to think about. Thank you really for taking your time. I'll be back soon! Have a nice day.
Jun 25th 2013 new
I believe the answer is "no". It's not a help to evangelisation to write fiction. Fiction can convey abstract concepts in conformity with reality, it can contain moral examples, it can be an aid to edify and refresh people who already have come to the true religion, but is no evangelisation tool. Evangelisation is teaching the Gospel and baptising. Those who are the subjects of evangelisation need dogma and baptism. Dogma is not conveyed in an authoritative fashion through fiction. Fiction can actually diminish the conceptualisation of WHAT dogma actually is in those who have yet to come to the true religion. Authority is the only effectual and real method of evangelisation. Giving an unbaptised or unchurched individual a work of fiction which imploys dogmatics or catholic morality gives the impression to said individual of relativism or syncretism in regard to the divinely revealed truths. I also think it's an amusing stretch that contemporary people are making in regard to Tolkien's works being a conduit of the Gospel message. I think of Bilbo Baggins and chuckle, since it's hard to reconcile the profession of burglar with catholic moral teaching.
Jun 25th 2013 new
What then do you say about our Lord, who frequently used the tactic of storytelling to make his point? And the centerpieces of His tales were not always morally sound people -- the adultress, the Samaritan, the tax collector, the son who squandered his father's fortune away.... We tell stories to each other as a way to communicate, and we do it from a very young age... there's a stat out there that as adults, we tell 20 to 30 "stories" a day! We like to make our lives relatable. We like to make our *thoughts* and *feelings* relatable. So we can do the same thing with the genre of Fantasy. We can bring Catholic concepts into a more relatable space by removing them from the "trappings" of Catholicism and the inherent biases some folks might have against the Church. When it comes to the Lord of the Rings, there are all kinds of things we could discuss -- about the problem of evil and the sin of pride and... yes. Lots of good Catholic stuff there. And if it brings someone to the table, and it makes them ask some questions... more power to it, I say!
Jun 25th 2013 new
Parables are not synonymous with fantasy or the literary genre of fiction. Parables are a very specific type of communication device which illustrate a truth. They centre around the conveyance of truth with certitude even if that truth is hidden from some or most. Fantasy and the literary genre of fiction are entertainment or recreational devices. They centre around anything an individual can imagine, and do not exist for the purpose of conveying the truth with certitude. Following the path of syncretism is a bad idea. How many will a fantasy/fiction author risk misleading (and in fact mislead) for the potential and false hope of reaching one mind with the spiritual concepts of divine revelation? It's impossible to tell. I know I wouldn't want to take the risk and then stand before Christ to explain my actions. How can a person explain to the one who died on the cross to save us all how he'd misled even one person in regard to divine revelation? I have no need of making up some figurative story about my day doing chores in order to convey to anyone, from my one-year-old nephew to my 83-year-old grandfather, the truth of what happened to me or what I did. In fact, why would I want to risk deceiving for the sake of entertaining? If rational concepts cannot get across the boundaries from one mind to another, then there's really no point in speaking (as opposed to making up a story to entertain in the false hope of relating thoughts or feelings, i.e., "I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal" 1 Corinthians 13:1).
Jun 26th 2013 new
(quote) David-978346 said: Interesting question, and there's a lot to be said about it. I think fiction, and in particular genre fiction, can be a powerful weapon in evangelization. A good chunk of what makes a culture is the stories it tells, and we take a surprising number of the ideas and assumptions which we live by from the stories we hear. In terms of what you're specifically talking about, regarding mythology, I think the main use of mythology is in giving abstract ideas substance and making them concrete. Taking a random idea from Tolkien as an example, the derivitiveness of evil - that evil has no existence of its own but is only corrupted good - is a fairly abstract idea which Tolkien makes explicit by the existence of the Orcs, the Nazgul, and so on as corrupted beings. So, myth and fiction can be great tools for evangelizing, but I'd add a word of caution: don't focus too much on evangelizing. No one will read your books just because they express a Catholic worldview (or at least, very few people). Anyone would read your book, regardless of the view it expressed, if it's a good story. I think the biggest problem with Catholic art in the modern world is that it focuses too much on being Catholic and not enough on being good. Okay, hope that's enough to get started with.
Great comments about mythology and story telling. I especially agree with the closing remarks. Good stories are read because they are good, not because they are Catholic. The best stories contain the Truth, therefore they are already evangelistic in nature.
Jun 26th 2013 new
(quote) Chelsea-743484 said: I believe the answer is "no". It's not a help to evangelisation to write fiction. Fiction can convey abstract concepts in conformity with reality, it can contain moral examples, it can be an aid to edify and refresh people who already have come to the true religion, but is no evangelisation tool. Evangelisation is teaching the Gospel and baptising. Those who are the subjects of evangelisation need dogma and baptism. Dogma is not conveyed in an authoritative fashion through fiction. Fiction can actually diminish the conceptualisation of WHAT dogma actually is in those who have yet to come to the true religion. Authority is the only effectual and real method of evangelisation. Giving an unbaptised or unchurched individual a work of fiction which imploys dogmatics or catholic morality gives the impression to said individual of relativism or syncretism in regard to the divinely revealed truths. I also think it's an amusing stretch that contemporary people are making in regard to Tolkien's works being a conduit of the Gospel message. I think of Bilbo Baggins and chuckle, since it's hard to reconcile the profession of burglar with catholic moral teaching.
I disagree. In regards to your comment about the thief Bilbo and moral teaching, what about Paul? Or Matthew, the tax collector? Or St. Augustine? The actions of all three were reprehensible but God used them in great ways that shaped our Church. Our God does do some amusing things, so there isn't any surprise to our laughter.
Jun 26th 2013 new
(quote) Katie-822269 said: What then do you say about our Lord, who frequently used the tactic of storytelling to make his point? And the centerpieces of His tales were not always morally sound people -- the adultress, the Samaritan, the tax collector, the son who squandered his father's fortune away.... We tell stories to each other as a way to communicate, and we do it from a very young age... there's a stat out there that as adults, we tell 20 to 30 "stories" a day! We like to make our lives relatable. We like to make our *thoughts* and *feelings* relatable. So we can do the same thing with the genre of Fantasy. We can bring Catholic concepts into a more relatable space by removing them from the "trappings" of Catholicism and the inherent biases some folks might have against the Church. When it comes to the Lord of the Rings, there are all kinds of things we could discuss -- about the problem of evil and the sin of pride and... yes. Lots of good Catholic stuff there. And if it brings someone to the table, and it makes them ask some questions... more power to it, I say!
Beautifully said, Katie! I agree.
Jun 26th 2013 new
(quote) Chelsea-743484 said: Parables are not synonymous with fantasy or the literary genre of fiction. Parables are a very specific type of communication device which illustrate a truth. They centre around the conveyance of truth with certitude even if that truth is hidden from some or most. Fantasy and the literary genre of fiction are entertainment or recreational devices. They centre around anything an individual can imagine, and do not exist for the purpose of conveying the truth with certitude. Following the path of syncretism is a bad idea. How many will a fantasy/fiction author risk misleading (and in fact mislead) for the potential and false hope of reaching one mind with the spiritual concepts of divine revelation? It's impossible to tell. I know I wouldn't want to take the risk and then stand before Christ to explain my actions. How can a person explain to the one who died on the cross to save us all how he'd misled even one person in regard to divine revelation? I have no need of making up some figurative story about my day doing chores in order to convey to anyone, from my one-year-old nephew to my 83-year-old grandfather, the truth of what happened to me or what I did. In fact, why would I want to risk deceiving for the sake of entertaining? If rational concepts cannot get across the boundaries from one mind to another, then there's really no point in speaking (as opposed to making up a story to entertain in the false hope of relating thoughts or feelings, i.e., "I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal" 1 Corinthians 13:1).
Chelsea, I don't think you have at all the same concept of the significance of literature in culture. Entertainment is a far secondary reason for its existence. Mainly it exists to explain, educate, and to shape people (individuals and society) in the ways of the universe, especially within society. Myth especially does this. Myth attempts to explain the Truth. It often uses fantastical ideas to help us understand the supernatural truths of the universe. Parables are one form of storytelling that does this. Parables are considered a genre of fiction. (If they were not, they would not have been in my college literature texts or in my teacher's manuals when I taught high school English literature.) Jesus is widely regarded as the best storyteller of parables ever. (I've seen public high school literature texts with His parables in them.)
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