Theology, Fantasy, and the Imagination offers analyses of the theological, philosophical, and religious imagination found in fantasy literature, the theological imagination, and table-top games. Part I offers an invocation to the study through a theological reflection of the “old magic.” Part II analyzes classical Christian fantasy—ranging from dogmatic theological reflection on the fantastic imagination to analyses of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Part III analyzes the post-Christian turn in fantasy after about 1960 through today—featuring methodological, theological, and philosophical essays that reflect a movement beyond Christianity in the fantasy literature and writings of Rabbi Shagar, Ursula le Guin, Terry Pratchett, Robert Jordan and David Eddings, and Brandon Sanderson and Orson Scott Card. Part IV closes with two analyses of the religious and philosophical dimensions of table-top games, including Dungeons and Dragons and Magic: the Gathering. Theology, Fantasy, and the Imagination offers astute analyses of how theological fantasy actually is by articulating the religious, philosophical, and theological dimensions of the fantastic imagination.
Andrew D. Thrasher teaches religious studies at George Mason University and in the Virginia Community College System.
Austin M. Freeman is the author of Tolkien Dogmatics and the editor of several collections of fantasy criticism. He teaches at Houston Christian University.
1. Introduction: Theology, Fantasy, and the Imagination
Andrew D. Thrasher and Austin M. Freeman
Part I: Invocations
2. The Old Magic
Part II: Classical Christian Fantasy: Renewing Christian Imagination
3. Sins of the Imagination
Austin M. Freeman
4. C.S. Lewis, Apologetics, and the Imagination: Breaking the Spell of Secularism
5. Between Tolkien and the Philosophers: Greek and Scholastic Theories of Phantasia
Giovanni Carmine Costabile
Part III: Post-Christian Fantasy: Opening the Door Beyond
6. Why Theology Should Always Be Fantasy: Imagination, Fantasy, and Science-Fictional Messianism in the Writings of Rabbi Shagar
7. Theology in Shadow: Sin and Redemption in Ursula K. Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea
Oliver D. Crisp
8. Cosmology as Agnostic Self-Actualization in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld
9. Fantastic Inter-Religious Resourcement in Robert Jordan and David Eddings
Andrew D. Thrasher
10. The Hero as God: An Exploration of Mormon Soteriology in the Fantasy Novels of Orson Scott Card and Brandon Sanderson
Part IV: Fantasy at Play: Theologizing with Fantastic Games
11. Imaginative Hermeneutical Theology: Paul Ricoeur and Dungeons & Dragons
12. Magic: The Gathering and Meaning: The Theological Outlook of the World’s Most Complex Game
We are quite accustomed to approaching theology from the front, with reason and intellect. Only rarely do we approach from behind, with imagination. And rarer still is theological engagement that takes imagination seriously on its own terms. Theology, Fantasy, and the Imagination uses examples from the fantastic to show us insights into theology that can only be imagined, and in doing so, greatly strengthens our overall theological engagement. And, it's a lot of fun!