The fantasy genre, in film and literature, has undergone a huge resurgence in popularity in recent years. This can be seen in the blockbuster movies of the XMen, Star Wars and Marvel and DC Superheroes, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and renewed interpretations of other texts such as The Lord of the Rings, the Narnia Chronicles and Alice in Wonderland - not to mention Netflix's recent decision to refocus its programming on sci-fi and fantasy series. Far from being a childish phenomena, fantasy has been increasingly openly embraced by adults, particularly the 20- 40 age group as a means of self expression, exploration and personal development.

The Church may choose to ignore this social trend - or it can, more usefully, engage with it. This workshop will explore some of the psychological and spiritual elements in the fantasy genre and consider how Christians can engage in mission and facilitate spiritual growth through speaking the language of the imagination. Practical aspects will include looking at fantasy works as potential lent/ study groups and what we can learn from imaginative storytelling in the sermon slot.

Revd Karen Gardiner worked as a music therapist before being ordained 16 years ago. She has an MA in the Psychology of Religion and a Post Graduate Certificate in Theology, Imagination and Culture. She is presently studying for a PhD in Theology and Literature and serves in the Rural South York benefice.

Why Middle Earth Matters