David and Karen Mains are the creative husband-and-wife duo behind the stories of the Tales of the Kingdom trilogy. Northwestern’s theatre department has dramatized several stories from the trilogy for their fall children’s show, the past two years.
Through these performances, many students, faculty and members of the surrounding communities are familiar with the Mainses’ work. However, as of Tuesday, most of campus had yet to meet David and Karen Mains.
On Tuesday, the Mainses attended a performance of Princess Amanda and the Dragon. They were also Wednesday’s featured speakers in chapel. In a response to the Northwestern’s Theatre Production Ensemble, both Karen and David Mains expressed pleasure at witnessing the performance.
“Most of the Tales relate more to almost adult themes,” David Mains said. “I was surprised that most of the kids were as attentive as they were, because those are themes they don’t understand fully. It was a great experience for us.”
The Tales of the Kingdom Trilogy has a strong theological foundation, intertwined with David and Karen Mains’ shared history. The Mainses and their colleagues founded Circle Church on the west side of Chicago. The church ministered to and included members of the surrounding areas of poverty.
“Because churches were abandoning the city of Chicago as neighborhoods changed racially in the late 1960’s, we and a handful of young friends felt that we should buck this trend,” Karen Mains said.
The young church soon wrestled with important theological issues.
“We began to explore what Christ and the Scripture taught about the Kingdom of God,” Karen Mains said. “In conservative evangelicalism, at the time, this was a neglected area of theology.”
The Tales of the Kingdom Trilogy formed as a creative outgrowth of David and Karen Mains’ theological studies and sermons on the Kingdom of God.
“The books were designed to display in story form what the meaning of living in the kingdom of God on earth is like as we wait for the eventual establishment of that kingdom of heaven, when Christ comes again to restore all things and people to his original design,” David Mains said.
Although Karen Mains wrote the trilogy, all three books have been a collaborative effort of both wife and husband.
“David is the theologian and I’m the creative writer,” Karen Mains said.
Mains attributes ownership of her work to God. In addition, she appreciates the creative participation of the Northwestern Theatre Production Ensemble.
“What particularly delights me is when the theme of Christ and his kingdom begin to capture these younger artists,” Karen Mains said. “As a writer, I am privileged to give birth to something that is demanding to have its own life. When I see other people taking what I have written (but do not own) and infusing stories with their own creativity and ideas, it is delightful to me, and I am often surprised by what they discover in the work that I have not as yet discovered myself.”
According to Karen Mains, the trilogy may soon expand to a pentalogy.
“We’re committed to creating two more books in the Kingdom Tales series,” Karen Mains said. “That writing should take place within the next two years. The creative mind can always think of more things to create than it is capable of delivering. There are other projects we’re developing, but these two books are at the top of the list.”
The show will run until Nov. 17.