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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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Jun 26 new
(quote) Dawn-58330 said: .... Myth attempts to explain the Truth. It often uses fantastical ideas to help us understand the supernatural truths of the universe....
'What is truth?' asked Pilate. There are sectarian truths, eg. Jesus is the Son of God or there is only Allah and Muhammad is his prophet (and believers in a sectarian truth will probably capitalise the 't') and there are general moral truths. Adherence to sectarian truths is based on faith. Agreement that this or that is a general moral truth is often supported by a practical consensus, eg. everybody agrees that stealing is bad (because nobody likes to be a victim of theft). To evangelise is to propagate a sectarian truth. If a Muslim can come away from reading, say, C S Lewis or Tolkien without knowing what Christianity is about, what would have been the evangelical value of those works to him? At least,a Muslim who comes away from reading the Bible, even if he isn't convicted to become a Christian, now knows more about the sectarian truths of Christianity than he did before. The parables are told within a sectarian context to listeners who belonged within that context. Jesus was talking to listeners who understood him to be the latest in a long line of wandering holy men or prophets operating within the Jewish religion. The content of the parables may have been fiction but the parables themselves were intended by Jesus to convey, and understood by his listeners as intending to convey, Jewish sectarian religious truth with certitude, as Chelsea puts it. Does this mean that works by Lewis and Tolkien cannot be evangelical? No, but they're only evangelical if, as the reader, you're already a Christian and you're deliberately scouring their text for indications of the sectarian truths in which you already believe, and I think Chelsea also alludes to this. On the other hand, you could read those works on their own terms and finish the books without knowing any more about Christianity than before you started. Anyway, what does 'to evangelise' mean? There's the colloquial meaning of spreading a message, just as Guy Kawasaki's job used to be that of being an Apple evangelist (as opposed to being a Microsoft one), and there is the formal understanding by the Church, which, basically, is to make Jesus Christ known to someone with the hope that that person will develop a personal relationship with Him (for which the most direct texts to use would be Bible, Catechism and such other Tradition-related documents as are useful). However, evangelisation isn't necessarily only to unbelievers. Catholics can evangelise and re-evangelise themselves to become more fervent in their faith (New Evangelisation, etc.). Within this context, fantasy /sci fi might be useful to explore how sectarian truths can be expressed.
Jun 26 new
(quote) Dawn-58330 said: .... Myth attempts to explain the Truth. It often uses fantastical ideas to help us understand the supernatural truths of the universe....
'What is truth?' asked Pilate. There are sectarian truths, eg. Jesus is the Son of God or there is only Allah and Muhammad is his prophet (and believers in a sectarian truth will probably capitalise the 't') and there are general moral truths. Adherence to sectarian truths is based on faith. Agreement that this or that is a general moral truth is often supported by a practical consensus, eg. everybody agrees that stealing is bad (because nobody likes to be a victim of theft). To evangelise is to propagate a sectarian truth. If a Muslim can come away from reading, say, C S Lewis or Tolkien without knowing what Christianity is about, what would have been the evangelical value of those works to him? At least,a Muslim who comes away from reading the Bible, even if he isn't convicted to become a Christian, now knows more about the sectarian truths of Christianity than he did before. The parables are told within a sectarian context to listeners who belonged within that context. Jesus was talking to listeners who understood him to be the latest in a long line of wandering holy men or prophets operating within the Jewish religion. The content of the parables may have been fiction but the parables themselves were intended by Jesus to convey, and understood by his listeners as intending to convey, Jewish sectarian religious truth with certitude, as Chelsea puts it. Does this mean that works by Lewis and Tolkien cannot be evangelical? No, but they're only evangelical if, as the reader, you're already a Christian and you're deliberately scouring their text for indications of the sectarian truths in which you already believe, and I think Chelsea also alludes to this. On the other hand, you could read those works on their own terms and finish the books without knowing any more about Christianity than before you started. Anyway, what does 'to evangelise' mean? There's the colloquial meaning of spreading a message, just as Guy Kawasaki's job used to be that of being an Apple evangelist (as opposed to being a Microsoft one), and there is the formal understanding by the Church, which, basically, is to make Jesus Christ known to someone with the hope that that person will develop a personal relationship with Him (for which the most direct texts to use would be Bible, Catechism and such other Tradition-related documents as are useful). However, evangelisation isn't necessarily only to unbelievers. Catholics can evangelise and re-evangelise themselves to become more fervent in their faith (New Evangelisation, etc.). Within this context, fantasy /sci fi might be useful to explore how sectarian truths can be expressed.
Jun 26 new
Carlos,

Definitely. One of the most profoundly influencial Sci-Fi novels I have ever read is CS Lewis's Space Trilogy. It has so many elements of JPII Theology of the Body in it it's insane! If you are not already familiar with him I suggest that you check out John C. Wright. www.scifiwright.com Even shoot him an email, if you haven't done it. I understand that he's happy to correspond with aspiring writers!

In Christ's peace,

Matt
Jun 26 new
Carlos,

Definitely. One of the most profoundly influencial Sci-Fi novels I have ever read is CS Lewis's Space Trilogy. It has so many elements of JPII Theology of the Body in it it's insane! If you are not already familiar with him I suggest that you check out John C. Wright. www.scifiwright.com Even shoot him an email, if you haven't done it. I understand that he's happy to correspond with aspiring writers!

In Christ's peace,

Matt
Jun 26 new
A lot seems to hinge on exactly what is meant by "evangelize."

Katie and Dawn point out the use of fiction- parables- in the Gospel themselves.

Chelsea and Roystan point out the need for specific context and content.

Tolkein certainly has a lot of Catholic theology running through it...but you have to already know Catholic theology pretty well to see it.

C.S. Lewis is far more blunt. Aslan in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe rather obviously plays the role of Christ...but you still at least need to know something of Christ in order to make the connection.

If your goal it to directly convert people, fiction probably isn't going to cut it. But if your goal is to "prepare the ground" than you can do a lot.

A lot of social problems we see today have a lot do with the fact that society's view of "normal" is pretty twisted. It's "normal" to have casual sex all the time. If you wait until marriage you're "repressed" or "uptight." The list can go on quite at length.

Fiction is unquestionably capable of relaying truths and getting people to think about things in ways they have not done before.

But to get back to the original question ("...can effectively help evangelize ..")[emphasis in the original], I think the answer is clearly "yes," it can help.
Jun 27 new
(quote) John-336509 said: A lot seems to hinge on exactly what is meant by "evangelize."

Katie and Dawn point out the use of fiction- parables- in the Gospel themselves.

Chelsea and Roystan point out the need for specific context and content.

Tolkein certainly has a lot of Catholic theology running through it...but you have to already know Catholic theology pretty well to see it.

C.S. Lewis is far more blunt. Aslan in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe rather obviously plays the role of Christ...but you still at least need to know something of Christ in order to make the connection.

If your goal it to directly convert people, fiction probably isn't going to cut it. But if your goal is to "prepare the ground" than you can do a lot.

A lot of social problems we see today have a lot do with the fact that society's view of "normal" is pretty twisted. It's "normal" to have casual sex all the time. If you wait until marriage you're "repressed" or "uptight." The list can go on quite at length.

Fiction is unquestionably capable of relaying truths and getting people to think about things in ways they have not done before.

But to get back to the original question ("...can effectively help evangelize ..")[emphasis in the original], I think the answer is clearly "yes," it can help.
Excellent summary, John!

You are right that there needs to be some clarification about the nature of evangelization that is being discussed. To me, evangelization is about sharing the Good News. This includes those that have nneed to hear it again, as well as those who never heard it.
Jun 27 new
Tolkien emphasized the spiritual-warfare side of fighting evil, in the LOTR trilogy. In the Return of the King, it is stated that "victory cannot be achieved through strength of arms". This parallels Paul's statement in Ephesians 6:12: "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places". That's why Sauron never takes physical from in the trilogy.
Jun 28 new
In a bit of a different take on your original topic, I have always found it interesting that in all urban fantasy that I have read, when combating evil, there is always only one faith that the characters go to for help against spiritual evils - the Catholic Church. I think that fact that be used to point out the fact that at our core, we know there is one true Church in this world because there is one Church whose holy water we expect to combat vampires or whose priests we expect to be able to do exorcisms.

More to your original post, I use writing to try and explain Catholic truths in language people would more readily accept. We have all of the philosophical and natural law behind our moral truths, after all, so why not explain those in situations outside of Catholic theology? Characters forgive because forgiveness helps the character, not the one being forgiven. Truth is a reality, not a moving target. The "emotion" of love isn't enough to hold two characters together and the self-sacrificial, sacramental aspect of love geared towards the good of the other and the upbringing of children can be emphasized instead. You can hide all the fundamental truths of Catholicism and natural law that make so much sense when someone isn't reacting viscerally to the trappings of religion so that perhaps when they encounter them again that armor has been cracked just enough to let the truth filter in. That's my silly hope, anyways.
Jul 11 new
To you all: thank you so very much for your responses. All of them, and I truly mean it have been of great service to the matter in hand. If you allow me, I would like to copy paste all of them and insert them in my notes. I keep sort of a journal with notes on constructive criticism for my writing. I usually never pay any attention to criticism based on pop psychology, but the ones I've read here related to this topic in specific are of great value to me, and I really apreciate them.

Summarywise, I can understand the position of few, of saying that this genre can be a dangerous tool. I don't like to give specific examples, but I think there is some literature out there that may be giving specific service to evil through a veil of the good vs evil motif. I think that an author needs to have a very strong faith and lead a good life, and ask God to help him or her write this. otherwise one may distortion or relativize things. Writing has set me up in a real challenge to deepen my faith. Strange questions have arisen such as what is the Church's position on Aliens, and are they here to help us or are they all fallen angels? Other questions such as the existence of ghosts of demons vs lost souls. I've read some boos about exorcists, and the answer is not that black and white.

When one reads about Tolkien's spiritual life, one can determine that God most probably had a hand in his writing, but his frustration was, that most people couldn't see the Christian messages in his stories.

I'll ponder upon this. I'm not responding back to increase the thread, because I need to review these questions more carefully, as I feel a great responsibility of delivering the Truth through this work, since it is mostly geared to children and teenagers, mostly.


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