Fantasy is not a safe genre.
It challenges our perceptions of reality. It asserts the existence of the supernatural. It shakes the foundations of everything man thinks he knows. We would do well not to tread this genre carelessly.
Rather, let us recognize the dangers that we might deal with them. Four major zones stand out to me in fantasy as an overall genre:
Escapism: A yearning for a better world—for heaven—is a healthy pull . . . until it so dominates our desires that we withdraw from this world and become of no earthly good. So with fantasy. It can inspire us to greater acts of courage—or so sour us to this world that we retreat into the fictitious to avoid dealing with the real.
Rebellion: Classic fantasy pitches good against evil, often in David-and-Goliath proportions. This can be good. Such impossible-odds stories gives us hope for our lives. However, a reader can also easily transfer his identification with the protagonist into the real world, turning himself into a victim while villainizing anything or anyone who stands in his way. In light of “such evil,” the reader can then justify acts of rebellion and avoid learning the need to stand firm, persevere, and submit.
Power Obsession: Our world is chaotic. Humans are control freaks. The supernatural offers control, whether directly or indirectly. Need I say more?
Supernatural Distraction: God gave humanity curiosity. We want to know, desire to understand. However, since fantasy often traffics in what-ifs based on the obscure, it can drive us to dwell on the minor and to seek answers in less than healthy ways.