The Loudmouth Protestant

October 24, 2007

On Horror: A Pastor’s Thoughts

As a continuation to my post about horror movies, I found this bit of information written by arts pastor, W. David O. Taylor on Christianity Today Movies:

The Question
So I now come back to my original question: Is the horror genre redeemable? Can Christians make use of the form? Should they? I think of evangelicals like Scott Derrickson, director of Hellraiser V: Inferno , whom I first met at a film and theology conference at Fuller Seminary, and I see that in the hands of a sanctified imagination, the horror form, in light of all I discovered in my quest, yes, can become a vehicle for redemption. With films like his, and others, I begin to understand the God-givenness of the form, how it works, why it works.

So what would I tell a member of my congregation if they expressed interest in horror stories? I would probably tell them the following.

One, the form is neutral. Like fantasy or the detective story, we’re dealing with conventions and types, devices and symbols that together make up the system that we recognize as a romance or a comedy or any other artistic form. The “natural man” can of course corrupt the horror story, but that does not automatically render the genre immoral or unserviceable to our meaning-making endeavors. We need to understand it before criticizing it.

Two, a lot of horror movies are senseless, stupid, and self-indulgent. No secret here. It’s a large canopy, involving everything from a Disneyesque The Others to the gruesome Freddy vs. Jason. In some cases, you don’t need to waste your time. In other cases it’s goofy, cheesy fun. In still other cases you’ll want to be careful. Saint Patrick’s phrase, “the knowledge that defiles,” applies equally to the movies that we watch as to the rest of our lives.

Three
, some of it is dangerous. Evil is real, and the extent to which horror movies deal with evil, whether supernatural or natural, we want to be careful not to treat it lightly—or behave like deists who dismiss it as “just a movie.” This doesn’t mean we cannot watch it, it simply means we need to be wise and discerning, and in some instances prayerful.

Four, to each his own conscience. What is appropriate for one person in one season of life is not so for another, and we need to give each other permission to respond to the grace we’ve been given. For some, all horror movies are too much. For others, it’s not as much of a challenge.

Read more about horror movies and Christians, here

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