Thursday, October 25, 2007

Christian Horror?

We have a reputation as copy cats. And not even as good copy cats. If a type of book or music starts selling well, you can be sure that someone will turn out a "Christian" knockoff of it. And what's worse, we seldom bother to figure out whether the thing really can be copied without messing up our core beliefs!

So can horror stories be Christian? It depends on how they're done. And that leads to the two types of horror. Simply put, these are

1. More-or-less happy (hopeful) ending and
2. More-or-less hopeless ending.

Even an unhappy ending can be hopeful, in which case it provides a warning. Look at some fairy tales for example. (The old ones, not the la-de-dah modern versions where everyone gets counseling in the end.) In fact, fairy tales may be considered the first horror stories (together with some myths).

What about hopeless stories? Well, pretty much anything by Lovecraft, or most any modern horror movie--and most horror books. Lovecraft was an unusually candid atheist. He believed that the universe was at best indifferent to mankind, and more likely actively hostile. Christians shouldn't copy that view.

Sometimes the hopelessness comes from the desire for a sequel--you've got to leave some room for the Horror to return, which means that the story doesn't altogether resolve. And resolution matters, because it's the frame of the story: the thing that marks the boundary between fact and fiction, the sign that you can close the book and go on with life.

Now, since one of the foundations of the Christian message is hope, I think we can eliminate right off anything that produces despair. A hopeful ending is called for. In our next post, we'll see why it isn't enough.

Other posts in this series:
The "Saint Judas" Syndrome
Once in a Full Moon
Adios, Suckers!
Frankenstein's Monstrance
Horror as it Should Be

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