Christian Dystopia   Leave a comment

A friend of mine from high school (so, yes, she knows my real name) asked me why I’m writing dystopian fiction when I have this really cool fantasy series that she would prefer I write the next book to.

I could simply point out that my apocalyptic dystopian novel Life As We Knew It sells better than the fantasy, but I guess it goes a little deeper than that shallow capitalistic motive. Dystopian themes have been a part of our popular cultural for a long time. Stories about crumbling governments, pandemics, plagues, and looming apocalypses man made, alien and artificial intelligence, cycle through our collective psyches with startling regularity. George Orwell’s 1984, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Logan’s Run, Blade Runner, or Terminator, Americans seem fixated on the disaster at the end of our current mess. We always have been, but it may be getting worse as our culture and economy seem to be in spasm right now.

Front Cover LAWKI no windowEnd of the world as we know it themes do not all neatly into the category of dystopia, though they share the view of the future as a bleak place. Why are dystopian themes so compelling that we keep returning to them? My friend says she prefers my fantasy series because she just knows it will have a rosy ending. Epic fantasies are somewhat required to have upbeat endings, but I might not be so compliant, but she does have a point. Wouldn’t we rather envision a utopia where the world is lovely, clean and survivable? Yeah, but that wouldn’t be reality.

Utopianism grew out of modernity — the belief that technology and human ingenuity can build a better world. Industrialization led us to believe we could harness the better angels of our nature — conquer disease, aging, poverty, etc. That didn’t last long. Several world wars, genocides, natural disasters, governmental collapses and overthrows, overcrowded jails and over-medicated masses — reality sort of T-boned utopia. Then we looked good and hard at ourselves in the mirror and realized human beings aren’t capable of utopia. God gave us paradise once and we rejected it. Dystopia is our default position.

Yeah, I know, I’m a downer Debbie, but I’m also being realistic about human kind. and I’m drawing that vision from a Biblical worldview Manmade utopia is simply not possible and a dystopian future is far more realistic.

The Bible does not paint a rosy picture for mankind. Jesus warned about natural and cosmological catastrophes, plagues, and times of great deception. John the Apostle gave his own violent account of the end of the age, Scripture makes it clear that things will get worse before they get better. Yeah, we can make peace accords, invent new technology and develop wonderful therapeautic techniques, but Armageddon is still going to happen. Shangri la not found in the Bible. Christians read that our best efforts are going to put us in an arena, pitted against God, nature and, each other. We can try to deny it, but that’s reality.

Why?

Because man is broken and you can’t correct our damage with moral or technological enhancements. We are not inherently good and utopia is not in our future. History and personal experience have repeatedly shown us that, left to our devices, Man fails. Dystopian fictoin is an admission of the basic depravity of mankind. Everything we touch rots and the more we fiddle with it, the faster it decomposes.

Objects in View Front CoverSo why are we surprised that a society that grew out of a Judeo-Chrisian background is now coming to a creeping realization that we are broken and that things are only going to get worse? We see something in a screw up future that is familiar because we know ourselves and instinctively we know we’re going to blow it all to hell.

The dystopian trend is an affirmation of a Christian worldview which admits that no earthly power can save us from ourselves. In popular culture, dystopia runs over utopia because some truths are obvious, and the depravity of mankind is too obvious not to become the subject of any thinking novelist in reflection of our cultural corruption.

Objects in View continues the story of a small town coping in the aftermath of a nation-wide terrorist attack. Watch for it October 4 and it is on pre-order now.

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