Writing Q&A #13 – In Defense of Dragons

Question:

Isn’t a dragon a symbol of Satan in the Bible? Why do you have good dragon characters in your stories? Aren’t they supposed to be evil?

Answer:

The Bible uses a dragon to symbolize Satan, but God also describes Leviathan as one of his greatest creatures in Job 41, and this creature is clearly a fire-breathing, scaly monster that is strikingly similar to the dragons in my stories. It seems to be used in the Bible in multiple ways.

We shouldn’t be surprised that a dragon, with its strength and ferocity, is used to explain the devil’s tenacity in attacking God’s people. But does such a symbol mean that all dragons are evil? I don’t think so. The same is true with a lion. The devil is called a lion that seeks to devour (1 Peter 5:8). Does that mean that all lions are evil? Again, I don’t think so. Jesus is called the Lion of the tribe of Judah. A lion is a symbol that can be used in many ways.

Satan is also described in the Bible as appearing as an angel of light, but certainly we are not to regard all angels of light as evil. Also, humans can reflect every wicked attribute of Satan, yet they can also reflect many of God’s qualities. They can be good or evil in stories.

My stories says that many dragons are evil and were killed by the king’s slayers. Some, however, are good and are rescued. This follows a symbolic parallel to angels. Some angels are true to God, and some are fallen. We would be wrong to look at one fallen angel and assume that all angels are evil.

So it is with dragons. Just because one dragon is evil, we shouldn’t automatically insist in all stories that all dragons must be evil. In fact, to say so would be similar to superstition, not reason, and there is nothing in the Bible that says all dragons are evil. It just isn’t there.

Write and read about good dragons. They can be noble and good. But be careful. You know what they say about meddling in the affairs of dragons. 🙂

 

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30 replies

  1. Very well said! Bravo! T’was a masterful defense of dragons.
    I did not know that’s what is said about dragons, but thanks for letting me know. *hides all the ketchup*

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  2. What’s up, Cleffy? Ran out of frosting? 😉
    (yeah I’m from the old forum and I recall you talking about us being good with frosting)

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  3. Yes! It makes me so happy to read this! I’ve always thought this about dragons (which is why my book features them!). The lion analogy is really cool, I’ll have to remember that.

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  4. I couldn’t agree more! 😀
    Thanks for posting this, Mr. Davis! 🙂

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  5. How much ketchup should be applied to a human? I’m not sure what the proper amount is. Will a normal size bottle be enough, or do dragons need to buy in bulk?

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  6. Very well said! As a Christian and a fantasy author, I’ve received some push-back about dragons, and this is completely accurate as far as the theology goes. It totally proves that there’s nothing at all wrong about writing about a good dragon. Great post!

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  7. Hearing about some of the criticisms you’ve received has been interesting, since in general I never really heard anyone criticizing dragons in stories during my childhood. Or at least not for the reasons you described. I think I may have heard one or two people be cautious about reading stories with dragons because they seemed to think that any story involving dragons probably also contained magic. When I was younger I heard way more criticism for ghosts, werewolves, zombies and vampires. Just out of curiosity, what is your stance on those creatures? And do you still get a lot of criticism for using dragons?

    By the way, the forum seems to be down/inaccessible on this site.

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    • I have no problem with creatures that are portrayed as good as long as they really are good. Since vampires drink blood, it would be hard to imagine how they can be good. In other words, it is actions that corrupt a creature; evil is not inherent.

      I no longer get a lot of criticism about dragons.

      I suspended the forum because no one used it for many weeks.

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      • Interesting 🙂 And ok, just wanted to make sure you knew about it in case it was a glitch 🙂

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      • I would argue in defense of potential “good” vampires. Since some vampires were bitten and transformed against their will, and vampirism has been traditionally associated with sexual themes in classic fiction; could not a vampire transformed against their will be used as a subtle metaphor for a victim of sexual assault and all the guilt and suffering that comes with that?
        Also, in a different analogy, vampires seeking a cure from their vampirism might be used as a representation of sinners seeking salvation from the darkness that enslaves and drives them. Perhaps they long to stand in the sunlight that burns them, or before the cross that so terrifies them?

        (I love your work btw, Mr. Davis. You’re one of my heroes. ;v; )

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        • (Albeit, an imperfect analogy for one who is a victim of assault. Such innocents don’t turn into blood-thirsty monsters as far as I know.)

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        • Great question. And thank you for the kind words about my work.

          Your point about some vampires being victims is reasonable. Yet, it isn’t the state of being a vampire that is a concern. It is the consumption of blood for survival.

          If the vampire is in an alternate reality where consuming blood is not a forbidden act, then there is no problem. Yet, if it is set in our reality, the problem comes into play that you have a “good” creature who must sin to survive, which is a troubling, perhaps impossible, contradiction.

          With dragons, they don’t have to exhibit evil or sinful behaviors in order to continue being dragons. That is a crucial difference.

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          • *squee!* Bryan Davis responded to me!!

            Er…

            First, I put “good” in quotation marks in my original comment to show that I did not view these creatures as wholly good. They are enslaved by sin and darkness through their own dark hearts, just as we are.
            I would also point out that some people BELIEVE that they can’t not sin. They have become addicts, or have been deceived by our culture or themselves into believing that their sin is something they’re born with; an inherent part of their identity and something they must embrace and allow to enslave them. It’s all lies of the Devil of course.
            But what if the vampirism were a lie of the Devil too? A means for a dark Vampire King to keep his army in line in his war against the Light. (That would work in one novel anyway.)
            Also, again doesn’t all humanity live under the enslavement of dark urges we are too evil too overcome ourselves? Namely our Sin Nature.

            So, vampires could never be the PERFECT analogy for sinners in need of salvation, but at least it could represent one or two aspects of humanity under the control of sin. Again, not perfect, but really, what analogy is perfect anyway?

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            • I can’t be sure, but we might have some doctrinal differences between us that would leave us in disagreement over this issue. Anyway, I think defending the possibility of a “good” vampire is trickier than for a good dragon. It’s a harder sell to make.

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              • We may, although I doubt it. I honestly don’t see anything about what I said that any Christian tradition would disagree with though; except for the obvious imperfections in the analogy.

                Like I said, it’s imperfect, even flawed. (Flawed! That’s the word I was looking for in my earlier post.) There’s way more to humanity’s Fall and Redemption than that parable depicts. But then, even the Chronicles of Narnia didn’t get it completely right, because it was a snapshot of one angle of the Gospel rather than the full picture. Only the Bible can give the full picture.
                I did leave out some of my thoughts for the sake of brevity–all the imperfections of the analogy, all the things I would do to balance it out and make it more Biblical were I to write it myself, that kind of thing. (I probably won’t write it though.)

                I just think a redemptive vampire story CAN be written if one tried hard enough. But then, as I was telling a friend recently, every Christian has a different level of conscience when it comes to depicting monsters in their work. Some might shun both of our work; yours for your dragons and mine for my ghost hunters. But what matters in the end is our own consciences on the matter, and if we truly believe what we’re writing pleases God and lines up with Scripture. And if I am unable to sway you on the topic of vampires, then I shall respect your conscience and view of Scriptur and move on. uvu

                (“Raising Dragons” was a big inspiration to me, btw. <3)

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                • Sorry if my comments are too long btw. I’m a bit of a chatter box. >~<;

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                • Yes, we all must follow what we believe to be right.

                  I am not dismissing the possibility of a “good” vampire. I just can’t come up with how it would be done from start to finish..

                  I’m glad Raising Dragons was helpful to you. 🙂

                  Thanks for the conversation. I enjoy civil discussions. They are rare in the Internet world.

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                • No, than YOU for the discussion, Mr. Davis. 🙂 I apologize that I was so long winded, and also for misunderstanding you a little there, as I now realize I did. ^^;

                  God bless you, and your work sir! ^-^

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            • Ben Wolf wrote a book called Blood for Blood, which was about a vampire that converted to Christianity.

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