Where Faith and Truth meet Science Fiction and FantasyThis looks like the first time for this conference, I hope that it goes well. I would very much like to attend this conference, but the blogging isn't paying as well as I thought it would . . .
I was particularly struck by this quote, from St Basil the Great: "Now, then, altogether after the manner of bees must we use these writings, for the bees do not visit all the flowers without discrimination, nor indeed do they seek to carry away entire those upon which they light, but rather, having taken so much as is adapted to their needs, they let the rest go. So we, if wise, shall take from heathen books whatever befits us and is allied to the truth, and shall pass over the rest.” (emphasis mine)
To me, it seems that St Basil is saying go ahead and read what comes to you, and don't confine yourself to only 'Christian' books. Know what you're reading, and be ready to discern the good and true parts from the bad.
I am all too aware that for many American Christians, things like Sci-Fi and Fantasy are scary, frightening evil things that will lead to their children becoming Radical Liberal Secularists. Or something bad, anyway. I disagree. Sadly, many of these people have also taken up the notion that as long as a fictional work has the label 'Christian' applied to it somehow, it is henceforth OK. Again, I disagree. By what authority are these books being labeled 'Christian'? Who's checking the doctrine or 'worldview'? A publishing company? For comparison, the Church Fathers got to have that title because the Church over the centuries and around the world read their works and said 'This is good.' No one got a free pass, or blanket commendation. Even a saint can err, and there are a number of Fathers who have had part of their writings condemned. The Church read their work and discerned, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, what was good and true, and what was not.
So read or watch what you will, and discern what is good and what is bad. Even the bad can teach us, by a negative example. When in doubt, our spiritual fathers can steer us away from the bad and towards the good.