7:50 AM – Sitting in first final at the semester’s end. These younguns will grieve to know I am not on the Facetube. Today marks our goodbye.
DISCLAIMER: What follows is the beginning of something that I need to write for myself. This may take awhile. And it may appear quite jagged, as unkempt and scraggled as my beard hairs beneath the top layer where the comb tooths actually reach. Three contextual notes for those who decide to engage further: 1.) I am a believer and participant in the Gospel of Jesus Christ; 2.) therefore, convinced that my battle is not against the seen but the unseen, and convinced that the tidiness of our reality must be shattered by the truth and awareness of our mortality, I believe the horror genre (especially when it’s comedic) is the Christian genre (check the classics); and 3.) I’m in the extreme minority of Gospel participants on that last note. I should also mention that, in my opinion, you can’t find a better Pansy-boy to poke fun at than Lucifer. I mean, why the hell not?
“I don’t mind if a person has no hope if he or she is sufficiently funny about the whole thing . . . In general, though, there’s no point in writing hopeless novels. We all know we’re going to die; what’s most important is the kind of men and women we are in the face of this.” – Anne Lamott
EXACTLY! But you can’t convince enough people this is worth consideration! I meet far too many people who are far too interested in keeping things neat and tidy and comfortable, which is fine except that there’s a whole sphere, entire chasms of the human experience that are no where near neat or tidy or comfortable. So what about those things? What about the unquotable, uneasily packaged bits? Those things don’t go away because we read or sing something that makes us feel better.
I love this thing Patton Oswalt (crap, I love Patton Oswalt) said recently about the Boston bombing:
“So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, ‘The good outnumber you, and we always will.'” – Oswalt
Yes, and this is a place where, sometimes, the church excels. Reaching out. Offering relief. Attending a season of blessings both tangible and intangible. I cannot fault and will not begrudge the church her efforts to extend healing when healing is necessary.
My concern (and beef) is that I’ve too often been told not to look into the darkness at all. Not to make eye contact with the Thing(s) that threaten(s). I’ve been reminded, many times, in reference to my viewing and reading and even my writing of horror that the Scriptures say
Set your mind on things above, and not on earthly things.
I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes.
Whatever things are just and pure and holy and not R-rated, think on these things.
For those who are pure, all things are pure; for those who are defiled, even they will get defiled in the splash zone of defilement.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the Sons of God.
These reminders from the Scriptures are often spouted to persuade preference of a safe distance from evil. A fleeing the Devil distance. An rejecting distance. An ignoring distance.
But isn’t the act of ignoring an active ignorance? Where’s the value in that? Where’s the strong mantel? Where’s the assurance that we will do bigger and better things than even He who called us? Where’s the rest in knowing we have already been called Sons of God? We do not fear the enemy or our enemies nearly as much as we fear the potentials of our own strength. To look at darkness and proclaim light. To look at defilement and speak purity. To look at devastation and bring peace. To look at death and laugh with joy. Is these not what we’ve been offered? Christianity is a joke because christians sell it so damn short.
Okay, I get it. You don’t like murder and monsters and power tools and possessions in your art. And I understand that you feel uncomfortable putting those things before your eyes. Sure, sure. Go with that. Make grand decisions based on those convictions. On those preferences. Because guess what: I’m not into your acoustic guitar and egg-shaker worship songs either, but you’re not gonna hear me railing them anti-praise.
And at the end of the day, I believe this is all we’re really arguing when it comes to art and horror: preference. You’ve decided that this thing makes you uncomfortable; therefore, it must make God unhappy. This is a very Western ideal: to shape and to assume God’s reality based on our reality. We laughed at our parents when they did the same thing with rock-n-roll and we had to throw away our Def Leppard cassettes because our Sunday school teaching mom said it was “too sensuous” for teenagers to sing about pouring sugar on each other. Man, we love to laugh at her for spiritually begruding Def freakin’ Leppard. I mean, how dangerous could those guys be? The drummer only had one arm!
So how does this apply to the entertainment factor of the horror genre and our Righteous consumption and creation and celebration thereof? Well, that’s a damn good question.