Archive for the ‘Lessons in Fantasy’ Category

Our Matrix

By Brent King On March 29, 2015 No Comments

“The Matrix is the world that has been pulled over your eyes
to blind you from the truth.”

The Matrix

The first movie in the Matrix trilogy has long been one of my favorites. Perhaps this is because my heart has always thrilled with stories that strike powerful pictures of truth beyond the cycles of the world. Some things cannot be seen. They must be felt with the heart.

Who Can Understand?

Who can visualize the truth about reality? It’s too fantastic! I mean, it seems like the foundation of existence is physical, like the things that we see and hear and touch are ultimate reality. Yet if the Bible teaches us anything, it shows us that this is not the case. Our bodies can be destroyed, but if our spirit survives, we survive.

Where the Matrix

Where Are You Looking?

By Brent King On March 16, 2015 2 Comments

“And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12:17).


Our enemy is more dreadful than we realize, for even this dramatic scene from The Hobbit fails to depict our true danger. Yet it does dynamically portray the only hope we have of success against him:

*Warning! Spoilers! You may want to watch the movie first!*

The dragon, Smaug, awakens from his slumber, enraged that anyone should challenge him. He descends upon Laketown with indiscriminate fury. Amidst the flames, only one man dares to rise against him—the bowman Bard. While all others flee, Bard climbs to the top of the bell tower and assaults the murderous beast with arrows.

But Smaug’s armor is

A Touch of Reality

By Brent King On March 10, 2015 2 Comments

Sometimes the worlds that take shape on the pages of our manuscripts are fantastic, even surreal. Yet, like they say, truth is stranger than fiction or, as Mark Twain said, “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.”

touching-hand-landscape-design-facebook-timeline-cover,1280x960,66429Truth hung before my every step the night the full Crow Moon “bundled down the sky that was my street.” My imagination magnified it to enormous size. Its primal whispers bathed my night in inspiration.

Whispers of the Truth

It was in that moment that I felt it: my boys drew close, though they are far away. It wasn’t like the banter and the hugging we experienced last summer, yet so real that I stretched out to touch them, breathing a prayer on their

Naked in the Dark

By Brent King On March 2, 2015 1 Comment

Frodo SamOne of the scenes in the 2003 movie, The Return of the King, that touches me deeply is Sam gathering up Frodo in his arms and trying to comfort him with images of the Shire. Yet the only answer that he gets is,No, Sam. I can’t recall the taste of food, nor the sound of water, nor the touch of grass. I’m naked in the dark, with nothing, no veil between me and the ring of fire. I can see him with my waking eyes!”

I’m naked in the dark. I know what it feels like to be naked in the dark. We all do, and when we come to that place of utter nakedness, we either find a covering or lose our minds.

In such times of trauma, what could possibly veil

The Eucatastrophe

By Brent King On February 7, 2015 No Comments

Tolkien called it a eucatastrophe and said it was the highest function of fairy stories. It is a glimpse of truth in a world where the whole natural order is a chain of death. It comes upon us when all is sorrow and failure, when hope cannot present a happy ending.

In our dire straights the eucatastrophe, in a sudden happy turn, denies defeat. We catch our breath, for—against all hope—we see “a fleeting glimpse of Joy, Joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief” (Tolkien, On Fairy Stories).

Tolkien best describes this joy in The Lord of the Rings:

“And all the host laughed and wept, and in the midst of their merriment and tears the clear voice of the minstrel rose like silver and gold, and all men were hushed. And he sang to them, now in the Elven-tongue, now in the speech of the West, until their hearts,

The Power to Wield It

By Brent King On January 31, 2015 No Comments


Recently I was stimulated by an inspiring post on the blog of Nadine Brandes. She talked about living above the mundane, about living epically. As I contemplated what she said, I remembered a reflection I wrote for my book, The Grip of Grace, along the same lines. So here, from the mind of Tolkien, is a lesson on life and destiny to compliment Nadine’s:

The gardens of Rivendell lay softly under the trees. Light crept through the limbs and leaves and illuminated the Elven script on the stone. A hand coaxed tendrils from the graceful letters that spelled “Gilraen” on the face. Kneeling there, Aragorn gazed up at a likeness of his mother, as he cleared plant and branch from its surface. He gently ran his eyes and

Heeding the Voice of Samwise

By Brent King On January 14, 2015 No Comments

samwise_optThe sweat, ash, and tears on the face of Samwise Gamgee are permanently etched in my memory. He stands in distress, pleading repeatedly for the destruction of the One Ring. It hangs over the precipice, so close to annihilation, yet so far.

Samwise’s Desire

Samwise’s struggle and agony to destroy this Ring consumes him. He is not made for perilous quests. He is not made to defeat dark Lords or to battle evil villains. Friendship, plants, and the quiet life of the Shire are his forte and desire. Now, on the edge of success, all he wants is to finish it so he can go back to his Shire.

My Ignoble Part 

I want what Sam wants as I struggle with the hobbit’s at the Crack of Doom, but you wouldn’t know it by looking. I act

The Real Santa Claus

By Brent King On December 18, 2014 No Comments

FatherChristmasAt this festive season of the year, those who celebrate the Child in the manger often look down on Santa Claus. Though he comes across the centuries with a splash of Yuletide passion, not everyone gets delightfully wet. A tsunami of skepticism drowns many.

Down through the years, he comes to us through myth, story, and song. Yet is this cultural icon really an antichrist, a counterfeit who exists solely to steal the limelight from the baby Jesus?

I Think Not

Though midwinter festivals and the tradition of Santa Claus existed long before Jesus was born, Christians drew these celebrations up into a greater reality. Their hearts overflowed with the joy of Immanuel. This joy embraced diverse cultures, each bringing its own legends and festivals to the jubilee. The resulting pageantry is humanity’s attempt to embody the

Annexed by Satan?

By Brent King On November 24, 2014 No Comments


Is the Archetype Too Strong?

The dragon is considered evil in Christian mythology, indeed the ultimate symbol of evil. Some creatures in our world have been appropriated to typify Satan or parts of his kingdom. Does the fact that Satan monopolizes parts of God’s creation mean that we shouldn’t use those things as protagonists or positive elements in our books? Or are they scrapped to the realm of villain forever?

It is true that dragons, snakes, goats, rams, spiders, falcons, and other creatures have been used to represent Satan. Yet does that mean it’s impossible to use them in a positive way, to employ them as good guys?

The Archetype Is Strong

Tolkien wrote that in myth there were “many heroes but very few good dragons.” In On Fairy Stories he confessed that he “desired dragons

Fantasy: An Indispensable Way to Understand Ourselves

By Brent King On September 22, 2014 2 Comments

“The problem…is that whereas adults are readily aware of myths they have outgrown, they are blind to ones that they currently hold to be real.” – Carl Johnson

holly fairyLike Peter Pan, too many of us enter the “real world” of adulthood and forget how to fly. Our wings are clipped by failing to preserve the imaginative vitality of our childhood. The result is a life that never reaches maturity, for many things about life and ourselves can only be explored through fantasy.

It’s In Our Blood

Fantasy is not merely the result of adults telling children wild stories. In his book, From Two to Five, K. Chukovsky relates a telling story about how the minds of children work. Though it is easy for us to believe that realism is what our children