New creation. ISM student minister & videographer. Sci-fi writer. Member of Realm Makers. Co-host of Fantastical Truth podcast from Lorehaven.
“Viral pandemic takes over year 2020. Everyone is hardest hit, but especially the recreation economy!” Now that you’ve likely spent months struggling with work, school, and all the rest of it, how goes your enjoyment of books? And how can an outreach like Lorehaven, devoted to finding the best Christian fantasy, fare In These Uncertain Times™? 1. Lorehaven is growing its online presence. shares reviews, articles, the SpecFaith blog, a complete library, and beyond. Up through spring 2020, we also offered an actual print magazine every quarter. You could order new copies online (and still can for older issues), or get copies at events. This year we adjusted. We’re sharing more articles online and posting all our existing reviews daily! Lorehaven also hosts the SpecFaith blog. Stephen usually posts on Tuesdays. In fact, that’s how Zack found us. Zack first read these two articles: And of course, Lorehaven hosts this very podcast, now closing on forty episodes. Meanwhile, Stephen will soon resume livestream events with Realm Makers. The next one is set for this Thursday, Sept. 24, 8 p.m. Eastern. Title: How Can Fantastical Stories Boost Your Bible Reading? Of course, there’s still the Lorehaven Book Clubs group on Facebook! Shout-out to Steve Rzasa for running that, with so many great authors there. Remember, Lorehaven is ad-supported. That’s how we can make it free. We also have an online store with, among other fare, truly fantastical shirts. Christmas is coming quicker than you think. Only three shopping months left … 2. Print copies are on hold for the foreseeable future. For the time being, Lorehaven must operate as a webzine. Lack of events means lack of ability to fund and distribute print copies. To clarify: readers want to find our content easily! The best way to do this is digitally. That rules out, say, an older “send print copies by mail to paid subscribers” concept. Lorehaven is funded entirely by advertisers. That means we make it available for free. We’re also more easily able to interact with readers that way. Also that way, we can work better to time reviews with upcoming releases. Our fall 2020 issue is already in the works, with a dozen-plus reviews, new articles, beyond. Of course, you must subscribe free at to get that new issue. 3. Lorehaven plan for online outreach and at least some events in 2021. Stephen taught/mentored at two virtual events this year. We really, really miss live events—especially with The Pop Culture Parent now being released! Next year: will live events resume? Such as homeschool and writers’ conferences? If so, then Lord willing, we’ll have Lorehaven booths with many more resources to share. Our mission remains to find the best Christian fantasy that can help us worship Jesus better. Fantastic feedback We share this letter and offer advice about the balance of sheltering kids and training kids to engage their world for Christ. Elizabeth writes about our recent two-part Pop Culture Parent series: My parents were very strict growing up. I couldn’t watch cartoons with magic. My Saturday mornings started with chores first. I had to work as fast as possible so I could watch those morning cartoons. That usually meant I missed the magic themed ones like He-Man or Smurfs. So I grew up watching GI Joe, Transformers and Gumby. Honestly, I’m happy with that because I hate Fantasy, but love SciFi. Now that I’m a parent, I’m strict on what my kids watch, but it’s more about language, visuals and sexual content. I don’t want inappropriate images to be burned into their brains. I don’t want them to be flooded with bad language that they will end up attempting to use in everyday life. Wouldn’t it be interesting to have this discussion with my mother in the past? The idea that the magic from Smurfs really isn’t as bad as some of the junk they put into cartoons now. On the idea of popular culture… My son has had moments of almost anxiety/panic attacks. It relates to the idea of popular culture. He believes in Jesus, in salvation. Every day we have a Bible study and read the Word. Sundays we’ve been hosting a Bible study in our home, since our church is closed. His worry is eternity. What will it be like? What about the video games he plays/the electronics he uses? What about the Marvel movies he enjoys? And then he starts thinking that he’ll lose all of that, the idea of singing and worshiping forever (and doing nothing else in heaven) and he panics. How can I help him? Interesting discussion. Thank you! Send us your fantastic feedback by email, comment here, or social media. We hope to explore that nasty Netflix debacle, asking if boycotts help anything. Also, we may talk about whether there’s really life in the Venusian atmosphere. Which topic sparks your interest most? As always, let us know and help steer the show. Next on Fantastical Truth Some Christians think good authors must use anything, including fairy tales and sci-fi, as mere Teaching Tools for kids and other readers. Other Christians, maybe in response to that “tool” approach, embrace what they believe is unhindered creative freedom, apart from specific efforts to share truth. To support this, they say that C. S. Lewis just “saw images” and embraced them for their own sake, then the Christian element just got in there naturally. So shouldn’t Christian storytellers just do the same, and not try to promote a message? But what if they’re both wrong? What would this mean for Christian readers, and for authors?
We often explore the joys of exploring fantastical worlds in books or film. But what’s it like to actually bring these characters to life in a theater setting? Or to help guide the production of live performances for families and churches? Zack explores this creative challenge with Christian Youth Theater artistic director Julie Novak. Christian Youth Theater: mission and values Mission Christian Youth Theater develops character and creativity in kids of all ages through quality theater arts training that brings families and communities together while reflecting the Creator. Values Treat each individual with respect and significance Develop character traits including discipline, self-confidence, and integrity Bring families together through the use of individual talents and abilities Share the love of Christ in word and deed Episode sponsor: The Pop Culture Parent At this point, you may still have concerns about engaging popular culture with your children. Isn’t being a pop culture parent simply optional? Don’t you have more important things to teach your children, such as biblical worldviews, apologetics, or career readiness? Later we will answer these concerns in more detail. For now, we’ll provide the main reason cultural engagement is a vital part of our parental calling. This “impossible” mission—which we must choose to accept—is a way to glorify God by enjoying him forever through his gifts. We do this in three ways: by worshiping and enjoying personal relationships with God through Jesus by the Holy Spirit, by reflecting his grace in relationship with our children and other Christians, and by letting that grace shine to those who need to know God—that is, bringing his gospel to our friends and neighbors. We can’t do any of this apart from making and engaging culture. —from The Pop Culture Parent, page 10 Order The Pop Culture Parent from: Amazon New Growth Press The Gospel Coalition store Introducing Julie Novak, artistic director, acting instructor at Christian Youth Theater Julie Novak has been teaching and directing theater in a school and community setting for over 20 years. While teaching at the renowned Valley Christian Conservatory, in San Jose, California, she developed her own theater arts curriculum for students 6-8 grades and a curriculum for students 6-12 grade while teaching and directing at Summit Christian Academy in Austin, Texas. Julie has directed plays, musicals, one acts, musical reviews, competition scenes, concerts and benefit shows too numerous to count! She has been trained in a multitude of acting techniques, such as the Wheeler Recording Method, On Camera Acting, Improvisational Acting, various vocal genres and public speaking. Outside of her teaching career she has worked as an acting coach, speaker, ghostwriter, vocalist and done voice over studio work. Her greatest love is working with young people in the arts and helping them develop confidence and belief in their personal gift set. Julie began CYT Austin after she felt called to take her passion to speak life and encouragement into young people through the arts, outside the walls of a school and into her community. Questions that we ask Julie Novak include: What are basic definitions / purposes / ideas of the theater, and/or musical theater, and/or children’s theater? Why become a character, rather than just read about one? What is acting like? How does theater help us explore humanity itself? What’s your own origin story with theater/musical theater/children’s theater? What happens when, say, a performance might go way off-script? What happens when something goes wrong but a quick-thinking performer comes to the rescue? Why choose Christian Youth Theater (CYT)? What is CYT? What can kids expect at CYT? Do you have to be a Christian to work with CYT? CYT says, “Find your character.” What does spiritual development within CYT look like for kids? What does CYT do? How might this be different from other theatrical groups, or Christian theatrical groups? What are some challenges unique to making performances with kids, or unique to Christian theater audiences? How does the gospel specifically motivate excellence in theatrical storytelling, dance, music, and so forth? How do you feel these stories specifically benefit children (and audience members) in their Christian lives? What events are you really hoping to do once the pandemic has (Lord willing) run its course? Fantastic feedback We’re planning a future episode about kids’ favorite fantastical stories (Christian-made or otherwise). Send us your favorite story, including: Your name and permission to read your note on the podcast Your favorite fantastical story, including title and author (if you know) The story’s general plot, and what you loved about it so much Anything else about the story that helped you grow as a Christian.
If God gave humans the gift of making culture, including popular culture, what does that mean for us now? How does human sinfulness corrupt our stories and songs, despite the good reflections in these gifts? And what five questions can help us engage the messy mix of popular culture, and—for Christian parents and leaders—teach our kids to do the same? Zack and Stephen continue exploring Stephen’s new book The Pop Culture Parent. Episode sponsor: The Pop Culture Parent This book has now arrived from New Growth Press! Here’s the book’s back cover: Knowing how to deal with popular culture as a parent can be overwhelming. How can you entered into your children’s lives and connect with their interests but still point them toward Jesus? Many parents fear the influence of popular culture or ignore it altogether. This guide equips parents to raise grace-oriented disciples and cultural missionaries in a post-Christian world. “Ted Turnau and his friends Stephen Burnett and Jared Moore have articulated essential counsel for parents struggling to adopt the right attitudes toward guiding their children, and themselves, into being ‘in the world but not of it.’” William Edgar, apologetics professor at Westminster Theological Seminary “In The Pop Culture Parent, Ted Turnau, Stephen Burnett, and Jared Moore not only effectively remind us that the gospel is relevant to every square inch of our lives but also practically equip us to parent our children with wisdom and discernment. A helpful, thoughtful, and encouraging book.” Bruce Riley Ashford, Provost and professor of Theology and Culture, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; author of Letters to an American Christian and The Gospel of Our King “As parents of four and a wide age range, my wife and I just entered our fourth decade with small children in our home. The struggle to raise children to know and honor the Lord in a fallen world is real! The Pop Culture Parent is a wonderful and welcomed resource to help parents leverage culture as we seek to ground our children in the gospel. I only wish it would have been written sooner!” Paul Chitwood, President of the International Mission Board “This book gives us clarity of vision on how parents and kids can navigate the confusing and complex works of entertainment around them. If your desire is to give a Christ-centered vision of enjoying and engaging culture, then The Pop Culture Parent is most certainly for you.” Mike Cosper, Author of Recapturing the Wonder; director of Podcasting at Christianity Today Order The Pop Culture Parent from: Amazon New Growth Press The Gospel Coalition store Episode summary 1. Popular culture is God’s gift, but it’s been corrupted by sin. We cannot extol popular culture without dealing with sin. Now our culture and popular culture has been distorted by sinful idolatry. That’s why it’s healthy to be cautious about popular culture. 2. Jesus redeems us, so he can redeem popular culture today (and forever?). Even in a sinful world, broken/spiritually people reflect God’s purpose. Today God’s common grace preserves morality in our hearts (Rom. 2:14-15). If we see the Cultural Mandate as forever, then culture may last forever. One way or another, we’re dealing with eternal realities here. 3. In light of the gospel, try these five simple questions about popular culture! What is the story? What is the moral and imaginary world? What is good, true, and beautiful in this world (common grace)? What is false and idolatrous in this world? How is Jesus the true answer to this story’s hopes? Fantastic fans Listener “davycrackers” wrote this Apple Podcasts review: Not just reviews of books… Not just topical Christian discussion… But well thought out, careful and well-phrased biblically sound insights into the enjoyment and discernment of fiction. One of the things I personally love most about this podcast is how much Christian fiction-lovers and writers camaraderie it creates. It makes me feel part of something… It also so frequently reminds me of the bigger story of God’s glory I live every day of my life. Thank you Lorehaven! Next on Fantastical Truth It’s one joy to read or watch heroes in fantastical worlds. But what’s it like to actually bring these characters to life in a theater setting? Or to help guide the production of live performances for families and churches? Zack has invited a friend of his, Christian Youth Theater director Julie Novak, to help us explore how we better develop Christlike character by playing fantastic heroes.
Popular culture. It’s all around us. Christians debate whether popular culture is mostly good, mostly bad, or else kind of pointless. But why haven’t we been asking the hidden big question: what is the point of popular culture in God’s universe anyway? Introducing The Pop Culture Parent Parents often feel at a loss with popular culture and how it fits in with their families. They want to love their children well, but it can be overwhelming to navigate the murky waters of television, movies, games, and more that their kids are exposed to every day. Popular culture doesn’t have to be a burden. The Pop Culture Parent equips mothers, fathers, and guardians to build relationships with their children by entering into their popular culture–informed worlds, understanding them biblically, and passing on wisdom. This resource by authors Jared Moore, E. Stephen Burnett, and Ted Turnau provides Scripture-based, practical help for parents to enjoy the messy gift of popular culture with their kids. Preorder from: Amazon New Growth Press The Gospel Coalition store By engaging with their children’s interests, parents can explore culture while teaching their children to become missionaries in a post-Christian world. By providing realistic yet biblical encouragement for parents, the coauthors guide readers to engage with popular culture through a gospel lens, helping them teach their kids to understand and answer the challenges raised by popular culture. The Pop Culture Parent helps the next generation of evangelicals move beyond a posture of cultural ignorance to one of cultural engagement, building grace-oriented disciples and cultural missionaries. About the authors Ted Turnau teaches culture, religion, and media studies at Anglo-American University in Prague, Czech Republic. He has a PhD from Westminster in apologetics and wrote Popologetics (2012) to help Christians engage popular culture. Ted Turnau authored The Pop Culture Parent. He and Carolyn have three grown children. Ted enjoys jazz and blues, movies, games, and Japanese culture. E. Stephen Burnett explores biblical truth and fantastic stories as publisher of Lorehaven Magazine and cohost of the Fantastical Truth podcast. He has also written for Christianity Today and Christ and Pop Culture. E. Stephen Burnett authored The Pop Culture Parent. He and his wife, Lacy, live in the Austin, Texas area, and serve as church members and foster parents. Jared Moore serves in pastoral ministry. He has a PhD in systematic theology from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and cohosts The Pop Culture Coram Deo Podcast. Jared also served as second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention. He authored The Pop Culture Parent. He and his wife, Amber, and their four children enjoy popular culture together. Quotes and notes In The Pop Culture Parent we use this quote from Tim Keller: Culture is the shared beliefs and values, the shared conventions and social practices of a subgroup or an entire society in which we are taking all the raw materials [of creation], everything in life, and rearranging it in order to express meaning, in order to express what we think is the good, the true, the real, and the important. And in the book we ourselves define popular culture this way: Popular culture is a subsection of culture. As we use the term, it is a type of artistic expression. Art is the part of culture humans most directly use to engage with questions of meaning. When we think of art, we usually imagine symphony halls or museums. These kinds of spaces can be called “elite culture.” Popular culture is simply art that occupies common spaces such as streaming television, musical artists and bands, the internet, and comic book stores. These things give us art with easy access—expressions of the human heart that everyone can reach. . . . That’s a solid sociological definition. However, we also need to show how culture, especially popular culture, fits into gospel history. For Christian parents, we must see how these stories, songs, images, and games are not only things humans made up. They are also a gift God has given us. He wants us to make and enjoy culture. Making these things is an essential part of being human—part of God’s will for us on earth. Episode sponsor Here’s a fantasy for middle-grade readers: Legend of the Storm Sneezer, from author Kristiana Sfirlea. Monster Ivy Publishing says this is “for fans of Doctor Who and the darkly whimsical.” 13-year-old Rose Skylar (rose SKY-ler) sneezed a magical storm cloud at birth, and it’s followed her around ever since. But when Stormy causes too many disasters, Rose is taken to an asylum for unstable magic in a haunted forest whose trees have turned to stone. Guided by time traveling letters, Rose teams up with her future selves and her (maybe) imaginary best friend to save her storm cloud and solve the mystery of the specters and the stone trees. But will they find what killed the ghosts before what killed the ghosts finds them? Explore more at See listings at Amazon, Bookshop, Indiebound, and Barnes & Noble. Next on Fantastical Truth Christians often respond to culture as if it’s “mostly bad” or “mostly good.” This can leave children confused. Instead, what five questions might help us better engage popular culture for God’s glory?
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