Science fiction and fantasy has created powerful images in our own culture and created images that rebound in other cultures around the world as well. I am no cultural impact expert, but a few of these images that might have made a deeper than passing impression follow:
Speculative fiction is all about creating images in the minds of its readers. Few people who have read Frank Herbert’s DUNE books can immediately put the image of the sandworms out of their mind. Few who read J. R. R. Tolkien’s LORD OF THE RINGS can get the image of short, hairy-footed hobbits out of their minds quickly.
I once heard it proclaimed: "Science fiction is the literature of ideas. Alone among our present genres it can show us a world which does not exist, has not existed, but which could come into being. It can show us alternatives, many of which might be opposite to our presuppositions. It can mirror our thoughts, fears, and hopes about the future in terms of literary experience." (Pamela Sargent, More Women of Wonder: Science Fiction Novelettes By Women, Vintage Paperbacks, 1976)I also believe that Christianity is all about our efforts to create powerful images in the minds of people who have no interest in accepting Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. For example, the crèche, or the Nativity of Jesus is a powerful image that appears at Christmas.
The secular world has done a good job at overwhelming the image of the birth of our Savior with a jolly character who now has little to do with an obscure, 2nd Century priest following the precepts of his Lord and Savior. “Ho, ho, ho, and all that…”
It has had a much, much harder time overwhelming the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ with cute, innocuous images like one above…
…because the Crucifixion is one of the most powerful images and because Jesus Christ died by one of the most excruciating methods of execution ever devised by a human government, it has been exceedingly hard for those who dislike Christianity to subdue the image.
“Crucifixion was used for slaves, pirates, and enemies of the state. Therefore, crucifixion was considered a most shameful and disgraceful way to die. Condemned Roman citizens were usually exempt from crucifixion…except for major crimes against the state, such as high treason…The goal of Roman crucifixion was not just to kill the criminal, but also to mutilate and dishonour the body of the condemned. In ancient tradition, an honourable death required burial; leaving a body on the cross, so as to mutilate it and prevent its burial, was a grave dishonour….crucifixion was also a means of exhibiting the criminal’s low social status. It was the most dishonourable death imaginable, originally reserved for slaves, hence still called "supplicium servile" by Seneca…” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crucifixion).
The Crucifixion is an historical fact and while some dispute it, it is recorded several times in ancient history both secular and sacred. Others are more comfortable disputing the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and give various reasons why it didn’t or couldn’t happen.
Despite the disputation however, the image stays with us. It is powerful and widespread and has not been supplanted by secular attempts to abolish it. The Bible tells us both as a record and as prophecy, how Jesus the Christ was to die and rise again. It also tells us WHY: He died and rose again to restore our broken relationship with God. He was a sin offering on our behalf and then proved that death no longer had a hold on us! THIS is an image we cannot shake. THIS is an image that will last long after WAR OF THE WORLDS and HARRY POTTER fade away.
“He is risen! He is risen, indeed!”