A Christian perspective on fantasy literature
V. Conclusion: The Battle for the Next Generation
Why does this topic even matter? Are we merely talking about creating educated consumers? No, the issue is much larger than that. When we talk about our children, we are talking about the future. We are talking about the future of the church. And we are talking about the future of America, because without a strong church, this nation will not stand.
On September 11, 2001, America came under attack from forces outside our borders. But the truth is, this nation is so large, so rich and so powerful that it cannot be destroyed from the outside. Terrorists attacking America are like a mosquito attacking an elephant. The mosquito will fail or be crushed.
However, if the mosquito is carrying a deadly disease, that mosquito can bring down the elephant. And that is where we must beware. An attack from inside can weaken us to the point that attacks from outside will finally succeed. For the past 50 years the church in America has been under attack. There has been a steady process that could be called the de-Christianizing of America. We have seen it in politics, academics, law, the news media, advertising and the entertainment industry. And one of the primary areas of attack has been our children. Why? Because children are developing the world view that will affect most of their decisions for the rest of their lives.
The Millenium Generation
Statistics show that the vast majority of Christians make their decision for Christ between the ages of 5 and 13. We are currently in the midst of a huge demographic bubble. Currently there are 96 million people under age 25. Compare this to the baby boom which had 76 million members. Now consider the influence of the baby boom on our culture both nationally and worldwide. Our society has moved further and further away from Christian values as the baby boom has become more and more influential. But how was the baby boom influenced? Who shaped their world view? It was popular culture: music, television, movies, books, plays and the education system.
This current group of young people has been dubbed the Millenium Generation because they straddle the year 2000. But from a Christian perspective that name the Millenium Generation carries prophetic connotations. Could this be the generation that ushers in the millennial reign of Christ? Or will this be the last Christian generation in America? Who will form their values?
We cannot be na´ve about the state of the church in America today. The number of Americans attending a weekly worship hovers around 40%. Even immediately after September 11, it was only 47%. Not even half! The percentage of committed Christians in American society is either stagnant or shrinking. Worst of all, we are losing our own kids.
We must stop fighting a defensive war and go on the offensive.
But what can the individual Christian do?
A. Guard your own heart and mind
"Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things . . . and the God of peace shall be with you." - Philippians 4:8-9 (KJV)
You will have more power in your Christian walk if you pour into your mind only things of quality. Seek out good work (much of which will have been produced before the 1960s). Stay away from most of today's junk.
Don't expect to have any lasting impact on your kids if you forbid them to read Harry Potter, then spend all your time watching and reading garbage. There is no greater influence on children than the behavior of their parents.
B. Stand as a Watchman Over Your Own Family
Take authority over what enters your home. Don't let the media or the education system have the final say. They are working against what you believe.
Don't let others intimidate you into silence when they accuse you of censorship for objecting to material presented in the media or taught in the public schools. You have a duty and a right as a parent to discuss the content of the material. Read ing and the arts are valuable because they encourage us to think. You therefore have a right to participate in a free and open discussion of that content. Reading is not a neutral activity. It communicates ideas and values. That is why it is important.
Pray specifically and pray creatively.
1) Pray against strongholds
2) Pray for the establishment of a strong Christian alternative to this wordly entertainment. We must move beyond complaining. Boycotts and book burnings are not the answer. We need to advocate our way of life. The world won't do it. They don't want to and they don't know how.
Encourage the arts in your home church or find a church that values the arts. Organize a choir, a drama team, a Christmas pageant or help those who do. This is where the next generation of Christian artists will develop.
For the Christian, Gandalf's advice to Frodo seems especially appropriate in these dark and confusing times:
"Always after a defeat and a respite, the Shadow takes another shape and grows again."
Copyright © 2002 by Stephen Mark Spence