The horror genre has not been particularly embraced by the Christian church. I think that harms the genre and the church. Both have much to teach each other. Christians have had horror in their holy book for thousands of years. We know (or should know) a thing or two about it. The entertainment industry has used horror to give voice to the fears of today in ways the church has surely trailed behind. Why don’t the two play well together?
This next series of posts will be about a theology of horror. What can the church learn from horror and what can horror learn from the church? I’ll take each sub-genre specifically (zombie, vampire, occult, etc.) and see if and where the two meet.
Often when a Christian references a horror film it’s nothing more than, “don’t watch that!” There might be real legitimate reasons for this: certain people are more sensitive to things than others. And some films are incredibly violent, or violence for violence sake. Any art that is mere sensationalism is not art worth giving our time and money to.
But there are plenty of illegitimate reasons for dissuading people to not see the next horror flic. It might be a refusal to be involved in our real world, ignoring real pain and darkness. It might come from not wanting to feel uncomfortable, as if Christianity’s end goal is about us feeling comfortable.
Our Lord died a gruesome, nasty, horror-filled death. We wear his execution instrument on our necks and put them on our cars as bumper stickers. The pages of our own holy book are riddled with violence, and the hope of our future contains a brutal holy war. Have we sanitized the stories of Christianity to make ourselves feel comfortable?
Horror, properly used, grabs us by our shoulders and shakes us back to life. In this next series of posts, I want to dive in to these topics, shake them, and see what good might fall out.
- There are definitely reasons a society creates and consumes sensationalism, but that’s for a different post. ↩