Friday, October 4, 2013

30 Days of Halloween - Day 3: Holy Darkness, Batman! Christians Write Horror Too!

Today I want to provide some proof that though I've not posted often on this blog, I've not been idle in exploring the strange convergence of the monstrous and the holy:  earlier this year I wrote around 30,000 words on horror and theology.  My two articles and one short story were published this August in Issue 21 of Fungi Magazine of Fantasy and Weird Fiction.  (You can buy it on Amazon here.  I'm not listed on the cover but you can see my name in the lists of fiction and non-fiction contributors here.)

The articles are:

* Ride the Nightmare: Lovecraftian Roots and Offshoots and Notes Toward a Theistic Weird Fiction

* Towards a Theology of Darkness

The short story is:

* The Floating Man: An Ambi-Comic Thanophany

The first article gives a brief introduction to the progenitor of modern 'cosmic horror', H. P. Lovecraft, and then looks at some of his influences, such as authors William Hope Hodgson, Lord Dunsany, and Arthur Machen.  Then it explores post-Lovecraft developments such as the New Weird (e.g. Jeff VanderMeer, China Mieville) and what I call the Catholic Weird:  mainly R. A. Lafferty, Gene Wolfe, and Tim Powers.  Most of these latter Christian authors cite Lovecraft as a direct influence, but also the 'Inklings' (C. S. Lewis, Tolkien, and Charles Williams) and their two main predecessors:  George MacDonald and G. K. Chesterton.  All of these are briefly discussed in turn.  I try to make the point that even in popular fantasists like Tolkien and Lewis we are apt to miss (or barely acknowledge) the presence of monsters and elements of horror in their most beloved works.  I think the article’s a pretty fun romp (for literature geeks like me, at least).  I guess I mainly wanted to show that writers who write horror and weird fiction from a distinctly theological point of view (like I'm trying to do) have a long and illustrious lineage.  The way has been amply paved and it is for us to further the work.

(If you don’t know many or most of the authors mentioned above, then maybe it’s time you got stuck in!  You have some incredible reading ahead of you, full of dark wonders and weird worlds.)

The second article looks at the image of darkness in the Bible (mainly Old Testament passages) and explores how it is used to describe visions of goodness and holiness as well as evil and sin.  I.e. just as ‘all that glitters is not gold’, so ‘all that darkens is not satanic’.  I engage a bit with Batman: The Dark Knight Rises and end with a survey of the image of Darkness as the Voice of God in Perelandra (the second book of C. S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy).

The short story is about, well, a floating man:  that is, a stranger found floating in the air of a neighbourhood and how that community deals with the freakish phenomenon and the gruesome turn that it takes.