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citymouse
06-30-2011, 06:52 PM
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.
Every time I visit the Christian forum, I see two threads one on Christian lit—horror/thriller and another on Christian/fantasy.
Each time I scratch my head and wonder what horror, and Christian lit have in common. To me combining them makes a square circle—something that cannot be reconciled. I know what horror stories are, but deep down, I feel these are incompatible within the safety of Christ.

Of course, there are those who would say that Christian belief is fantasy, and perhaps a horror story in itself.

Perhaps I don’t understand the meaning of horror, as it is applied in the Christian context and as it is understood in this forum.

IMO the only book that comes close to approaching the concept of the above-mentioned genre is The Exorcist. The other books that followed are simple knockoffs. I don’t know, perhaps I’m making too much of this.
My father often spoke of a plotline he liked. He shared it with me in hopes I’d make something of it. The story involves a state-of-the-art listening post high in the Sierra Madre Mountains. For decades, the instruments have been picking up a signal that repeats itself every year, and on the same day. Astrophysicists, linguists, and astronomers, pour over the data, some growing weary over their inability to decipher what is clearly some sort of message, and some growing too old to care. Then bingo! One day Mr. Know-it-all computer spits out the message in every known written tongue.
Delirious with glee the scientists race to read their first glimpse of the unknown. They stand around in clusters. Tiny lights from Mr. Computer twinkle furiously in the room’s dim gloom. With raw copies in their trembling hands, the best and brightest of the nation begin to read aloud the message from the stars. And there went out a decree that a census of the whole world should be taken, and so Joseph went to the city of his birth to be counted, along with Mary his wife, who was with child…

CACTUSWENDY
06-30-2011, 07:09 PM
Not sure what you are really wanting here.

As a Christian I can see how lots of genres can be used. Not all battles are won, but we know who wins the war. ;)

I think you have to make up your mind to what degree you are taking the topic. I can buy 'sermons' all day long. To reach the rest of the readerships I need to write from an angle that shows the Word in action and not from a preachy side. We know Christians fall, make mistakes, miss the turns in the road. You must pick a way to 'win the war'. In the real world Christians cuss, do some really dumb things, and have some really off the wall ideas. (Just look at the fishermen He chose.) IMHO

He told me a long time ago not to put HIM in a straight jacket. Let your work show the way, make a connection, present some light without cramming the Bible down their throats. Like I've stated....IMHO.

Flur
06-30-2011, 07:14 PM
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.
Every time I visit the Christian forum, I see two threads one on Christian lit—horror/thriller and another on Christian/fantasy.
Each time I scratch my head and wonder what horror, and Christian lit have in common. To me combining them makes a square circle—something that cannot be reconciled. I know what horror stories are, but deep down, I feel these are incompatible within the safety of Christ.

Of course, there are those who would say that Christian belief is fantasy, and perhaps a horror story in itself.

Perhaps I don’t understand the meaning of horror, as it is applied in the Christian context and as it is understood in this forum.

IMO the only book that comes close to approaching the concept of the above-mentioned genre is The Exorcist. The other books that followed are simple knockoffs. I don’t know, perhaps I’m making too much of this.
My father often spoke of a plotline he liked. He shared it with me in hopes I’d make something of it. The story involves a state-of-the-art listening post high in the Sierra Madre Mountains. For decades, the instruments have been picking up a signal that repeats itself every year, and on the same day. Astrophysicists, linguists, and astronomers, pour over the data, some growing weary over their inability to decipher what is clearly some sort of message, and some growing too old to care. Then bingo! One day Mr. Know-it-all computer spits out the message in every known written tongue.
Delirious with glee the scientists race to read their first glimpse of the unknown. They stand around in clusters. Tiny lights from Mr. Computer twinkle furiously in the room’s dim gloom. With raw copies in their trembling hands, the best and brightest of the nation begin to read aloud the message from the stars. And there went out a decree that a census of the whole world should be taken, and so Joseph went to the city of his birth to be counted, along with Mary his wife, who was with child…

I agree. I don't have much to offer that you haven't already said. Horror and Christianity should be at odds.

Calla Lily
06-30-2011, 07:35 PM
citymouse, I myself have been told that a "good Christian" should not write horror. (I write horror.)That the two are incompatible. (I love horror.) That I should therefore not be Mod of both Christian and Horror. IOW, that I'm a "bad Christian."

Sigh.

I've read "Christian horror"--Peretti and Dekker, specifically. IMO they tried to please everyone and the horror parts came up short. They preached, and preaching in fiction gives me a rash. Let your story tell the message, I say, and leave the preaching for church.

There's more to horror than the exorcism subgenre. Keep in mind that I'm not talking about torture porn, which makes me gag and is IMO shock for shock's sake.
I'm also not talking about horror that skates too close to RL--child molestation and other ripped-from-the-headlines horror/thrillers. When I talk horror, I'm talking vamps and weres and otherworldly monsters.

Good horror, for me, is the opposite of post-modern books, where a sad and depressing is demanded, no matter how many plot points lead the reader toward a positive ending. Good horror takes us through the dark so the light is that much brighter at the end. (You may now whap me for that syrupy cliche. :))

Horror for me is also an escape. I know there's a God in Heaven who after I croak will show me what all this was about here on earth. So giant spiders and sentient plants and demons with an attitude are a fun escape for me. Lovecraft's evil pantheon, especially--so much fun! I can slip into his scary imagination and enjoy it for what it's worth. In horror, I love watching the MC wrestle with the standard progression of disbelief, then fear, then growing a pair, then kicking ass. Sometimes the hero doesn't make it (the dead priest in The Exorcist, for example). Good horror will give a deeper meaning to that perceived failure. If you happened to see the prequel to The Exorcist (which sucked rocks, except for Stellan Skarsgard), it showed that priest's progression from faith to doubt, and how that led to his seemingly impossible leap of faith at the end of The Exorcist.

One of the best exorcism short stories ever was really about a demon who possessed a man specifically to come in contact with a certain exorcist, who was bucking the system a bit. This demon was pretending to go all Blatty on the guy precisely so he could tell the priest--using quotes from Donne's Holy Sonnets--that he wanted to risk a face-to-face with God. A little syrupy, but proved that even the standard exorcism tropes can be used in a different way.

At any rate, my long-winded point here is that I've never seen horror as incompatible with Christian faith. Other people do. It'd be a boring wrld if we all liked the same exact things.

I once received a one-page single-spaced diatribe disguised as a critique, in which the critiquer claimed I was both a false teacher and false prophet, that my work was dangerous to new Christians, and that he hoped I'd never get published. He ended by saying that he told me all this in the love of Christ. :rolleyes:

My very long-winded point is, in essence, if a Christian--or anyone--doesn't like horror, then there are boatloads of other genres to try. But horror in and of itself is no more incompatible with Christian faith than fantasy or thriller or romance or mystery etc. etc. etc. You read and write what your talent demands. God gave us the talent. I'm using mine as I see my path unfold.

/soapbox

citymouse
06-30-2011, 07:47 PM
I get the impression that I'm coming down on C/H/F/T writers here, and elsewhere. I want to stop that idea right now.

My mind was wandering, and I wondered if I had the wrong view of how H/F/T is defined among Christian writers.
I don't write Christian skewed novels, per se. My MC is Catholic, and he's deals with crises all the time. These play out against the backdrop of his faith and background.

Wordcaster
07-01-2011, 05:21 AM
I get the impression that I'm coming down on C/H/F/T writers here, and elsewhere.


I think your question is legitimate and I think that the biggest difference in opinions all comes down to what the "horror" genre means. Sometimes it means violence and gore (SAW movies), sometimes it means classics (Mary Shelley's Frankenstein), sometimes it means end times/apocolyptic fiction (Omen), sometimes it means supernatural beasts (I am Legend). I think when most people think of horror, they think of the violent series that have overwhelmed the movie theaters (SAW, Friday the 13, Nightmare on Elmstreet, etc.). I am sure there are examples of "Christian horror" that some would find unbecoming and others that would be generally deemed appropriate. I've read a lot of Stephen King and the like in my youth (and Peretti and Dekker), but Christian horror has typically not been a genre I have sought out. If a premise sounded interesting, I wouldn't avoid it, however.

CAWriter
07-01-2011, 10:22 PM
I think when most people think of horror, they think of the violent series that have overwhelmed the movie theaters (SAW, Friday the 13, Nightmare on Elmstreet, etc.). I am sure there are examples of "Christian horror" that some would find unbecoming and others that would be generally deemed appropriate.

This is what I was thinking. Werewolves, vampires and the like fall into the fantasy category in my mind. Personally, I'm not a fan of overall darkness in fiction whether it's shelved with the "Christian Fiction" or general fiction.

And while I don't generally care for allegories, I prefer my Christian fiction to be presented in that manner (as long as it's done as skillfully as C.S. Lewis or Tolkien, etc--hate when the story fades in and out of focus with the truth it's telling). Oh, and the reason I prefer Christian fantasy as an allegory is that it doesn't sit well with me to bring real elements of Christianity into a made-up world with mythological or other creatures. Can't/won't say it's wrong, just that my very literal, non-fiction type brain can't reconcile the two well. (For example, I wouldn't have liked Narnia if Jesus himself set things right rather than Aslan.)

The whole debate amuses me a little because it wasn't so many years ago that agents and editors at Christian writers conferences were poking fun at "Christian horror" proposals or using it as an example of what to never bother submitting because it is inherently contradictory and CBA publishers would never consider it. My how things have changed...

daydreameriam1
08-20-2011, 09:42 PM
Not sure what you are really wanting here.

As a Christian I can see how lots of genres can be used. Not all battles are won, but we know who wins the war. ;)

I think you have to make up your mind to what degree you are taking the topic. I can buy 'sermons' all day long. To reach the rest of the readerships I need to write from an angle that shows the Word in action and not from a preachy side. We know Christians fall, make mistakes, miss the turns in the road. You must pick a way to 'win the war'. In the real world Christians cuss, do some really dumb things, and have some really off the wall ideas. (Just look at the fishermen He chose.) IMHO

He told me a long time ago not to put HIM in a straight jacket. Let your work show the way, make a connection, present some light without cramming the Bible down their throats. Like I've stated....IMHO.

I agree with this. You can write horror books with a christian theme. its how you go about it, what you put in it. You can use Gods word in showing the good, how to turn around, etc... I don't think I am doing a good job at explaining. Using God's word to go against the evil or whatever in your book. You can also do this without getting preachy too. It may take some thinking.
I am writing a suspense/love story book and keeping it on a Christian basis, not preachy or anything like that. I had a certain love scene and it was just last night that HE told me how to write it without all the 'details' that i didnt want in the book. :D Good luck!!

Deb Kinnard
08-20-2011, 09:56 PM
The publishers have gotta love my Amish/Greek mythology/horror concept: SNAKES IN A BONNET, in which Medusa is accidentally reincarnated into the body of a nice Amish girl...

Mwahh-hahh-hahh!

Calla Lily
08-20-2011, 10:05 PM
:roll: Deb, that's a winner!

Deb Kinnard
08-21-2011, 02:26 AM
You know I'm evil...

Medievalist
08-21-2011, 03:57 AM
I would argue that the story of Job exhibits standard themes and motifs of horror; would further argue that the massacre of the innocents is also rife with the standard motifs of horror and that in fact the modern genre of horror has borrowed many if not most of it's themes, motifs and plot elements from Biblical and pre-Biblical texts.

daydreameriam1
08-21-2011, 06:20 AM
Of course, I was talking about Christian writing and not 'religious/religion.

Calla Lily
08-21-2011, 07:23 AM
daydreamer, I don't understand your split there. I work with the idea that Christian writing must necessarily involve religion.

frimble3
08-21-2011, 08:12 AM
daydreamer, I don't understand your split there. I work with the idea that Christian writing must necessarily involve religion.
I'm thinking that perhaps Daydreamer means the split the other way, that you can have religious writing without involving Christianity.
From the Old Testament, to all the non-Christian faiths.

Dawnstorm
08-22-2011, 12:04 AM
I would argue that the story of Job exhibits standard themes and motifs of horror; would further argue that the massacre of the innocents is also rife with the standard motifs of horror and that in fact the modern genre of horror has borrowed many if not most of it's themes, motifs and plot elements from Biblical and pre-Biblical texts.

Heh, watch a couple of horror movies, make a moral map of the characters and see what traits get you killed. Greed and promiscuity should top the list... Many, many horror plots inhabit a moral universe.

For a conversion story, make the greedy corporate guy your protagonist. Basically a kind and caring person, but blinded by greed in a business context. Triggers catastrophy by being obsessed with success, and (almost?) succumbs to guilt for the deaths he's responsible for. Survives and has to live with the fallout.

daydreameriam1
08-22-2011, 08:00 AM
I'm thinking that perhaps Daydreamer means the split the other way, that you can have religious writing without involving Christianity.
From the Old Testament, to all the non-Christian faiths.

Yes this is what I mean. thank you.