Fantastical Truth

Fantastical Truth

172. Why Should Christian Fans Honor and Support Story Creators?

July 25, 2023

Great stories should lead us to wonder, and lately, stories that don’t aren’t doing well at the box office. Meanwhile, writers and actors for these stories have gone on strike because they object to streaming services and AI that might cheat them out of their livelihoods. Scripture warns against employers oppressing hired employees, whether it’s a business or vocational ministry. How do Christian fans honor the value of stories and show our appreciation for the creators who work hard to reflect God’s image and create them?

Concession stand
  • Here’s another rare Stephen solo show! It builds off our last episode 171.
  • For those feeling burdened by work, this topic may bring bad feelings.
  • (During a stressful season, Stephen once had those just watching an anime!)
  • When we talk about “work,” you might think of that gross office or task.
  • If necessary, substitute with a better word—the work you like best of all.
  • Honestly, outlining this show was more work than usual, but worth it!
  • Also, we don’t sort between “creatives” and “regular folks” on this show.
  • Our goal is to encourage every Christian who’s also called to creativity.
  • As singer/songwriter Andrew Peterson likes to observe, we’re all creative:

I don’t like calling anyone “a creative”—but yes, I believe everyone is creative. It makes a difference, since that language implies there’s a special class of person who’s somehow more creative than everyone else. That’s just not true. Mathematicians are profoundly creative, as are architects and pastors and homemakers. It’s just not helpful to draw that line. Yes, there are artists, but as my friend Jonathan Rogers says, the arts only make up one slice of the pie of human creativity—and not the most important slice, either.

—”Andrew Peterson on Why Artists Aren’t Better Than Everyone Else,” The Gospel Coalition, Oct. 23, 2019

1. God made us to work and receive honor for it.
  • Genesis 1:27–28 gives the Cultural Mandate, emphasizing God’s call to work.
  • This includes agriculture, science, forming families, and culture-making.
  • Faithful Christians can’t affirm any of these without affirming them all.
  • Therefore we can respect all people, yet uniquely respect families.
  • And we can also especially affirm people who make stories and songs.
  • This is no “we’re awesome” humanism; it’s about reflecting God’s glory.
  • Before we speak of sin, all work would be joyful, even fun for us to do.
  • We’d have had no corruptions of the task or failure to honor creativity.

2. Sin ruins work with idolatry, laziness, exploitation.
  • Do recall your Sunday school: Satan tempts Eve with distorted work.
  • The devil literally corrupted humans’ original calling: to do (agri)culture.
  • He found the one limit God had given, and urged people to violate it.
  • As a result God imposed a penalty, specifically versus their creative work.
  • That’s why He cursed childbirth and agriculture with pain (Gen. 3:16–19).
  • Along with mortality, we are frustrated whenever we try to create things.
  • It’s still human beings’ fault. We tried to idolize a good gift of God.
  • That leads to other corruptions of creative acts, like laziness or overwork.
  • We also see problems with exploitation, “big guys” over “little guys.”
  • But really, everyone distorts work. We see this in the current strikes.
  • Yes, writers and actors may do bad work, or expect too much in return.
  • At the same time, studios arguably abuse their power and exploit others.
  • There and among Christian-made stories, we may see shoddy work.
  • People may try to excuse poor work because it’s “spiritual” or “clean.”

3. Christ redeems work so we can celebrate creators.
  • Yet we’re still called to strive for excellence to honor our great Creator.
  • That’s why we have reviews, good critics, “gatekeepers,” and publishers.
  • That’s why we have award ceremonies like last week’s Realm Awards.
  • Aspiration and healthy competition are not automatically bad things.
  • Adam and Eve may have had “races,” with one winning, another losing.
  • Even apart from that, we can celebrate advantages in some over others.
  • The apostles encourage this when they talk about healthy sex roles.
  • They speak of spiritual endurance races and eternal rewards (1 Cor. 3).
  • Based on this, Randy Alcorn suggests aspiration/competition are eternal:

Heaven, Randy AlcornJust as we can look forward to cultural endeavors such as art, drama, and music on the New Earth, we can assume that we’ll also enjoy sports there. According to the principle of continuity, we should expect the New Earth to be characterized by familiar, earthly (though uncorrupted) things. Scripture compares the Christian life to athletic competitions (1 Corinthians 9:24, 27; 2 Timothy 2:5). Because sports aren’t inherently sinful, we have every reason to believe that the same activities, games, skills, and interests we enjoy here will be available on the New Earth, with many new ones we haven’t thought of. …

People have told me, “But there can’t be athletics in Heaven because competition brings out the worst in people.” It’s true that some people’s sin spills over during athletic competition. But in Heaven, there will be no worst in us to bring out. People further object, “But in sports, someone has to lose. And in Heaven no one could lose.” Who says so? I’ve thoroughly enjoyed many tennis matches and ten-kilometer races that I’ve lost. Losing a game isn’t evil. It’s not part of the Curse. To say that “everyone would have to win in Heaven” underestimated the nature of resurrected humanity.

Heaven, Randy Alcorn (pages 410, 411)

  • Even competition between creatives can also bring out the best in us.
  • That’s why we take these things seriously, not dismissing them as trivial.
  • That’s also why we celebrate excellence, even with winners and “losers.”
  • Getting more behind-the-scenes, this affects our work at Lorehaven.
  • Last week we had seven guests, but did not choose to feature others.
  • For our reviews, we review some and decline others for various reasons.
  • Every week we do “discriminate” in our search for creative excellence.
  • On a personal note, Stephen speaks as someone far behind other creative sorts!
  • And that’s okay, for like Paul, he can learn the secret of being content.
  • Our work isn’t for self-fulfillment or to help fill the wounds left by sin.
  • Instead our creative work ought to be for our happiness and God’s glory.

Mission update

Com station
John Sweeting said at

Just listened to episode 169 on Fighting and Cussing. I really enjoyed all of the aspects discussed. Thanks for a great treatment of a serious subject.

Lilly remarked on James R. Hannibal’s article back in June:

Hello! As a fan of fantasy and Christian romance, I think it is time that many people realize this: the problem is not that Christian fiction is full of romance and fiction for women, if they left that aside, the problem would be the other way around: the girls would go to the secular in search of reading. No, now that we have female writers and a popular genre like romance has enough representation in the Christian industry, let’s also pay attention to the fantasy boys that everyone likes.

Next on Fantastical Truth

Speaking of creative excellence, why not take look at the summer cinema season? Some movies are doing great. Other movies (some very expensive) are flopping on their faces. Meanwhile, some streaming services are falling even harder, and thanks to the Hollywood strikes plus economic instability plus the threat of artificial-intelligence “art,” we could see a burst of the streaming bubble. How should Christians react to the movie critic “system” and its risk/reward system for certain kinds of movies? And how can we act as better critics of stories that are both well-made and good for your soul?