A month or two ago, I had a fellow Tweeter ask me what Christian suspense was. I politely told them that Christian suspense was just suspense writing with a Christian theme. That got me to thinking about a question that came up in my blog about a year ago: Is there such a genre as Christian horror?
Non-believers probably wouldn’t raise an eyebrow about the question, but most Christians are probably shocked that I would even raise the question. For a great deal of what a Christian does is colored by the advice in Philippians 4: 8: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” Most of the time, this translates into a PG view of the world.
Whether they admit it or not, Christians believe that evil things happen in the world, some of them tied to demonic activity. It’s just that we try not to think about them, and we rarely talk about them. There are two dangers here that I see. By not talking about them, we have a tendency to forget they exist and in the process forget the actual nature of evil in the world. Secondly, as a writer, my job mandates that I actually look at and reveal those things that people don’t talk about.
The implications scare me to death. It’s one thing to be an atheist or agnostic and do some investigative reporting into areas that you don’t believe in. It’s another to know that they do exist, and to actually talk about them. But one of the things I encourage my students to write about are the things they are afraid of.
I am still thinking about this, with some ideas swirling around in the back of my head. One of the points that’s important in all of this is to demonstrate that as strong as evil is in the world, God is stronger.
Beyond that, I welcome all comments.
4 thoughts on “Is There Such a Thing as Christian Horror?”
I guess it would also depend on how one defines horror. When I initially read your question, Frank E Peretti’s “This Present Darkness” series came to mind. His book really brought home to me, during my teenage years, the battle that takes place daily for our souls. I also loved the imagery he used when describing the angels (both good and fallen)…not to mention the power of prayer and how it became a tangible thing.
Since I wrote this post, i have thought that there are a lot of similarities between horror and suspense genres. Christian suspense as a genre is alive and well, as you mentioned with Frank Peretti’s books (of which I am a great fan). For the most part, I think that answers my question, although perhaps the genre should be redefined as “Christian supernatural suspense.”
I also will point out “This Present Darkness.” I think Christian horror is certainly a viable genre. Perhaps, though, its purpose would be different. Rather than just to entertain, it, like Peretti’s work, might seek to open readers’ eyes to the reality of what we’re struggling against, even if it’s done through fiction.
I am generally not a fan of horror especially in movies, but a great lover of christian fiction. And so far out of all the authors I have read, only Frank Peretti has come close to it. But most importantly I love the way he focuses on events rather than actual acts of horror that has lots of blood in it. Linking it with everyday life activities makes it more real.
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