Wednesday, July 23, 2008

CSFF Blog Tour: DragonLight Day 3

The Blog Tour for DragonLight wraps up today. I thought I'd end with a cautionary lesson I've learned from the DragonKeeper series. As speculative fiction authors, we have to be very careful with the symbols we use, especially when it comes to Christ.

When I first started reading the DragonKeeper stories, I thought I had the Paladin character figured out. In my mind, he was clearly the Christ figure for the story. He ruled Amara. He had miraculous powers. He had been alive for centuries. It certainly seemed like he filled that role in the story.

But as I read the next books, I became more and more confused. Paladin didn't seem all that Christ-like anymore. Not that he was doing evil stuff, but there were hints that he wasn't the Christ figure after all. After what I thought was such a strong connection in DragonQuest, it was a bit disconcerting.

During the blog tour for DragonFire, I mentioned my discomfort about this apparent Christological confusion, and I was told that Donita K. Paul never intended Paladin to be a Christ-figure for her stories. That made me feel a little better. But as I re-read the entire series in preparation for this tour, even knowing that Paladin wasn't a Christ analogue, I still got the same impression in the early books. While I spotted more hints that it wasn't the case, it still made me uncomfortable.

The same thing happened when I read Auralia's Colors by Jeffrey Overstreet. I was sure the Keeper was some sort of Christ figure, only to be told that I had messed up again.

Perhaps the problem is mine. Maybe other readers didn't see the possible connection or be concerned by it. As a Lutheran, I tend to be a bit Christocentric in my theology and thinking. At any rate, the whole quandry made me realize a lesson. We have to be careful in how we approach anyone (or anything) that might be construed as a Christ figure.

Different authors approach this in different ways. For example, Kathy Tyers and Sharon Hinck solved the issue the same way: they set their stories (the Firebird trilogy and the Restorer trilogy respectively) in a time before Christ. Karen Hancock took an opposite approach in the Legends of the Guardian King books by setting her story a thousand years after the Christ event.

It behooves us as Christian authors to be clear about our characters and the concepts in our stories. Granted, there might be those who get tripped up (like me), but it shouldn't be because we weren't careful enough.

While I may have been sort of negative this tour, it shouldn't discourage anyone from reading these books. They are great books. Go and see what the others have to say:

Brandon Barr
Justin Boyer
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
CSFF Blog Tour
Gene Curtis
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
* Beth Goddard
Mark Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Christopher Hopper
Joleen Howell
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Terri Main
* Shannon McNear
Melissa Meeks
* Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Deena Peterson
Steve Rice
* Cheryl Russel
Ashley Rutherford
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Robert Treskillard
* Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Laura Williams


Robert Treskillard said...


I was tripped up in Auralia's Colors too ... but more that I thought the Keeper represented God the Father. Jeffrey made it clear he is not, and the more I thought about, that is a safe position. If you make that connection explicit then you come under a lot more careful analysis.

However, even though Paladin is not Christ in an allegorical sense, I like to use "Christ-Like", or "Type Of Christ" in the sense that some of his acts and qualities can point us to Christ in the same way that many OT people are a "Type Of Christ".

In that sense, Toopka in DragonLight was a "Type of Christ" in the sense that someone innocent sacrificed themselves in order to end the reign of Satan. Mot Angra is a "Type Of Satan".

As long as we don't say "they are Christ", etc., then I don't have a problem with it. I am called to follow Christ's example within my work, church, community, and family in much the same way---through sacrificial love.

Just my thoughts.


Gene Curtis said...

What a great name for a blog!

In Christian fiction, why does any character 'have to' represent Christ? I agree with Robert, can't they just be trying to be Christ like?

Donita K. Paul said...

I love the discussions about Paladin and symbolism and all the rest.
I always intended Paladin to represent the church, or "the body of Christ." Now that's pretty ironic, considering their is no salvation message, no God the Son who dies and rises, defeating death, obliterating sin for those who believe. But that's for the real world.
The church should (in a perfect world) look just like Christ, act just like Christ, encourage and exhort and inspire just like Christ. When Paladin turned back the evil forces he invoked the power of God and there have been circumstances where God has worked that way. (Hang around with some missionaries for broadening education on that front.)
He becomes ill when the people treat him with nonchalance. He has resources that amaze us when he is imprisoned by the bad guys. Hey, he's pretty cool, and the church has the potential to be as cool.
Another big clue that was planted all along was that Wulder's personal pronouns are capitalized. Paladin's are not.
But as I always say "Allegory is a picture of something, but not the something it represents. So of course the picture is never complete, never more than two dimensional." I agree with Robert's type of Christ wording