Monday, 28 May 2012

Spiritual warfare in modern fiction

*

Spiritual warfare/ unseen warfare - the fight between Good and evil at a spiritual level (between Good and evil spirits, angels and demons), the battleground of salvation versus damnation as played out in human experience... this is not a familiar subject for modern fiction or fantasy.

But, it is the implicit (and perhaps unintended) subject for much fiction and fantasy - yet how can spiritual warfare be detected when it is not explicit?

It seems to me that spiritual warfare is, by analogy, what is going-on in all of those novels and fantasies in which the everyday world is invaded and inter-penetrated by the extraordinary: the supernatural, the magical, the ancient, the futuristic...

These book have the assumption of an unseen world of reality behind the appearances of the everyday - which I think works (insofar as it does work) by reminding us of the sub-text of our temporary mundane ephemeral lives - the spiritual world of the permanent and the eternal of which we are only partially aware, and which we only partially understand.

*

4 comments:

Dale James Nelson said...

"It seems to me that spiritual warfare is, by analogy, what is going-on in all of those novels and fantasies in which the everyday world is invaded and inter-penetrated by the extraordinary: the supernatural, the magical, the ancient, the futuristic."

That would be an interesting thesis to test using a variety of works. I would nominate for consideration Philip K. Dick's Time Out of Joint, Fritz Leiber's You're All Alone or "A Bit of the Dark World," John Buchan's Witch Wood, Moore and Kuttner's "Vintage Season," and other favorites of mine. I imagine that your thesis would work, but that the spiritual warfare would, in many or most cases, be based on unsound foundations. The scenario you propose sounds very like that of Fear, a short novel that I read many years ago... by the deplorable L. Ron Hubbard.....

bgc said...

" I imagine that your thesis would work, but that the spiritual warfare would, in many or most cases, be based on unsound foundations."

Yes indeed. Since the romantic era most of this genre would concern what are actually, demonic spirits either wittingly or unwittingly sought-out and willingly surrendered-to in return for power or pleasure.

A variant of this is the unmasking of good as hypocrisy, leading to an attitude of despair and nihilism.

Charles Williams novels all have this scenario of an unseen world breaking through - sometimes this is evil, sometimes good, sometimes which it is takes a bit of sorting-out (and sometimes Williams himself seems a bit uncertain - as in the gypsy character of Henry in Greater Trumps).

George Goerlich said...

Unseen warfare appears to be a very true idea, but outside of mental conceptions does anyone content that it truly apparent and real in everyday (mundane) circumstances? I mean that, for all the evil that goes on, much of it appears to just be the work of stupid and small people. The same I mean for becoming truly aware in this world and seeming in-touch with the concept of good or angelic forces. Abstractly it seems quite possible, but it seems hard to realize wholly true through the experiences of material life.

bgc said...

@GG - it is a matter of accuracy. To believe the devil is active in this world is non-optional for Christians; diagnosing the specific instances and effects is a different and more uncertain matter - but the possibility should be kept open.