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Christians and Horror

The apostle Paul wrote that we Christians are free to do a lot more things than most non-believers would suspect. The small-c church has been struggling to find the boundary between liberty and license ever since.

This past weekend, Sharon and I hosted our good friend Taylor Kent, aka The Snarky Avenger, who took me as his guest to Mo*Con III, a gathering of Indiana horror writers. It was a unique event that brought together Goths, geeks, and God for a day-long conference on spirituality and speculative fiction.

The conference was produced by Maurice “The Sinister Minister” Broaddus, a Christian pastor and horror fiction writer — a walking oxymoron to most of the world. The highlight of the day was the opening panel on spirituality, during which a group of published authors discussed their faith and how it informs their writing.

The panel ran the gamut from atheist to committed Christian, with a variety of flavors in between. Bob Freeman, president of the Indiana Horror Writers Association, shared his journey from childhood in the church to Odin-worshipping follower of Thelema, a belief system founded by Aleister Crowley, whose prime directive was, “Do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.”

There’s that license/liberty thing again.

Another member of the panel, a professor of theology, admitted that he professes a belief in Jesus because it was culturally convenient; “if I lived in India, I suppose I’d be a Hindu,” he said. Another, a man who’s played piano at a succession of Christian churches for over ten years, describes himself as “Christian Buddhist”.

What?

Now, the hard-core high school debate team captain in me wanted to jump up during the Q & A and challenge them and their belief systems. That wasn’t the forum for it, though, and I’m glad I bit my tongue and kept my trap shut. Let me just say this: Everybody has faith in something. What matters is whether what you believe is true.

Odin may be real, but I haven’t seen the evidence. And to the lukewarm Christians, I say this: there is no halfway with Christ. You can’t get around “no one comes to the Father except through Me”.

Life would be a lot easier if there were multiple paths to heaven, but Jesus disabused us of that notion. Believing otherwise is to believe that you and the bus can occupy the same time/space coordinates while crossing the street and still make it safely to the other side.

Back to my original point: Writing or reading horror isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and it isn’t recommended for everyone. There are twisted souls who enjoy “torture porn” for its own sake — and frankly, they’re under the influence of something a lot bigger and nastier than they imagine. However, as author Frank Creed pointed out, horror and speculative fiction can provide a perfect setting for exploring the eternal battle between good and evil.

Just like the one Paul described in Ephesians 6:12.

1 Comment on Christians and Horror

  1. Horror and Dark Fantasy author here, and also baptized in both water and the Spirit. The Horror genre of literature was created by Believers. For example, I challenge anyone to say that the story of a self-righteous seer who is sussed out by a shipload of pagans, thrown overboard, eaten by a fish, and then vomited–most likely in parts–up on a beach, only to resurrect and preach the word of God in a city considered to be an ancient Sin City is not Horror. Look, if I was a Ninevite and a zombie, for all intents and purposes, came walking down my street telling me about God’s love, I like to think I’d listen and make some changes. Then we can’t forget the book of Revelation as a gem of Horror–and for Dark Fantasy, how about the story of our ancestors Adam and Eve? Noah and the Flood? Jael and her tent stake? David and Goliath? Some like to say that the Horror genre as we know it began in the literature of the last few centuries. This, as I have shown, isn’t true, but even if it were, there were a few Christians involved–such as Charles Dickens, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, Bram Stoker, Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman, Arthur Machen, and quite a few others. Horror is inextricably tied to Christianity. There is no escaping the fact.

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