Monday, June 14, 2010

What is Christian horror?

Old Post: My earlier post addressed the question of "What is horror?"

Since I've already addressed the question of what is horror, the next question is "What is Christian horror?" To answer that, I first have to answer the question, "What is Christian fiction?" This is a topic I've addressed before, but I'll do so again here. There are several possible answers:
  1. It's written by a Christian.
  2. It's written for a Christian audience.
  3. It incorporates a Christian worldview.
Now, I left out some variants, such as "presenting the gospel message," but while that would definitely make something Christian, I don't believe that it's a necessary condition. And what I'm looking for is what is necessary for something to be considered a Christian work of fiction. Often what we mean by Christian fiction is something that incorporates all three: it's written by Christians, for Christians, about Christian things. Can horror do that? Well horror can definitely be written by Christians, and there are Christians that read horror, so I suppose 1 and 2 are possible. Is three? Notice that I said that it incorporates a Christian worldview--not that it advocates it. It needs to acknowledge and address the Christian worldview, not necessarily preach it.

And herein, I believe, lies the essence of Christian horror. It lies in challenging the Christian worldview. Or more specifically, in challenging the safe, conventional beliefs of the Christian worldview which very often have weak theological foundations. It means asking the hard questions and rejecting the easy answers. You see, Christians believe all sorts of scary things. We believe in demons--dark supernatural powers who wish us harm. We believe in the possibility of eternal damnation. We believe in a God who does not shy away from judgment. And we tell ourselves that we are safe from these things. God loves us and saves us and protects us. And yet... why are we so certain? Anyone who's read the Bible knows that for every passage that offers reassurance, there's another that challenges and condemns us. Writing Christian horror is not Biblical exegesis. It is not the writer's job to explain why the world is not safe, why Christians still suffer and die, why not everyone is saved. It is his job to show that these things are so.

For the Christian, the universe is not meaningless. There is a God, and he has a purpose. But that purpose is unfathomable to us--too deep for us to fully understand in this lifetime (and there aren't any promises for the next). It is bigger than us, vast and unmeasurable, but it is aware of us. We are caught up in it whether we want to be or not.

This is rich material for the writer to mine, and the inability to write horror when you have this to work with is more a failure of imagination than anything else.

New Post: More on the subject here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I moderate comments on posts more than a week old. Your comment will appear immediately on new posts, or as soon as I get a chance to review it for older posts.