Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Concept of Balance in Fantasy

    Most fantasy novels and movies center around the timeless conflict between the forces of Good and Evil. Game of Thrones is one notable exception, but then again, does that series truely qualify as "fantasy"? Nonetheless, as noted conservative Christian critic Vox Day (aka Theodore Beale) has noted, most modern examples of the fantasy genre tend to draw on the concept of "Balance," portraying God and Evil as equivilent opposing forces. This is very noticable, for example, in the case of the wildly popular Star Wars series of films ("will he bring balance to the Force?").

     I recall and even more blatant example of the "balance" concept from the introduction to Ridley Scott's Legend, where viewers read (speaking of the film's characters Princess Lily and Jack 'O the Green)"In their innocence they beleive that only goodness exists in the world. Together they will learn there can be no good without love without heaven without light without darkness.
The harmony of the universe depends upon an eternal balance. Out of the struggle to maintain this balance comes the birth of Legends," thus implying that God cannot exist without the devil. I once remember a Christian movie guide calling that film "totally anti-Christian," and this could well be the reason why.
     The ending of the original Dragonlance Chronicles by margaret Weis and and Tracy Hickman, perhaps best sum up the concept of 'balance.' At the end the war of the Lance, the heroes triumph, but they fail to eradicate the forces of darkness form the world of Krynn. the absent-minded mage Fizban (actually a human incarnation of the God Draco Paladine), an archetype of wise-fool, informs the heroes that evil must persist in the world in order for balance to be maintained. The dragon highlords and evil dragons will remain a menace on Krynn.
    In response the the question posed (I think) by Tanis Half-Elven, "Why shouldn't Good win--drive back the darkness forever?" Paladine replies at one time Good did reign supreme--but the balance was destroyed in the process. 
    This is, as Vox Day has observed, a long way from the works of Tolkien and Lewis, Tolkien in particular, who was the central inspiration for the vast bulk of fantasy novels filling the bookshelves from the late seventies onward. It is also totally anti-thetical to Christianity, which holds that evil is corrosive force. C. S. Lewis observed that evil is to good, not is dark is to lgiht, but as rust is to metal Evil is parasite that, of necessity must feed upon Good in order to persist. Think about. Any human being who does evil does so in pursuit of something good. It's just that they push the rights and values of others to the side in so doing. That is why idols are so dangerous. That is why pride in oneself is so grave a sin. Power, money, pleasure recognition or respect, even the love of one's own family are good things in and of themselves. Okay, 'power' might seem a bit of an exception, but even given the long-standing association of power with corruption, (and the stereotypes of evil aristocrat and ruthless businessman) a person with power is not necessarily corrupt, nor is power itself necessarily a bad thing. 
    Why has modern fantasy strayed so far from its origins in terms of the concept of Good and Evil so central to the Christian faith?

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