Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Spirit of Fear


Fear is a funny thing. It can paralyze you to the point where you're most afraid, not of a physical object, but of the idea of sinning against God. It's the spiritual side of fear that has you locked down, not an actual activity you've engaged in. Weird topic, I know, but this concept of fear arose in one of my classes, the last week of school as it happens. I have a fellow classmate who, at this moment, appears to not have read the text this week, the text being The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I could be wrong and she did, but her post implies otherwise. Her excuse is that she would be opening herself up to evil by reading anything resembling horror and so she refuses. I'm actually a bit stunned because I find this approach to be very archaic.

 Now, don't get me wrong. Some things scare me and I look back and wish I had never watched or read it. Secret Window is a perfect example of a Johnny Depp movie I should have avoided because I sensed pure evil from that film. Just a malignant force, but I did watch it and at least now I can honestly say that, for me, that movie is evil. The Prestige was the same way. It wasn't just scary, it was evil. But I've seen it and can stand by my claim because I have a personal knowledge of the script, an experience of the film, that only comes from watching it.

The fellow student of mine makes one statement: horror is evil, based on the Scripture 3 John 1:11 which reads:
Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.
She has made a judgement against the genre of horror. If we're to believe her that includes all horror, even Christian horror of which Ted Dekker is a master storyteller. Nothing can learned from horror and should be avoided at all costs.

My question is how do you protect yourself from something of which you know nothing? She has no knowledge of the horror genre. To her, great authors like Poe and Stevenson are evil because they wrote horror. They have sinned against God and have not seen Him. I'm not saying these men were Christians because they undoubtedly weren't, but that is not her call to make but a judgement to be made by Christ and Christ alone.

It's hard for me, to encounter this type of Christian who I am supposed to sympathize with and not lead astray. She is a fellow believer and a gentle soul, but she has no knowledge outside of Scripture. There is no practical logic in her mind, no philosophical reasoning, nothing that will allow her to hold on a conversation with someone who is outside her comfortable sphere. It's tragic and makes my heart bleed while I'm fighting back the urge to soundly rebuke her.

Which I didn't! I was good and posted a calm response to her, inquiring if she read the text and encouraging her to not run in fear but participate in a fascinating discussion on good and evil in humanity. I guess this means I'm maturing, but it still upsets me. The whole situation upsets me that she would be so close-minded as to not even participate and make her lack of participation into a put-down to everyone who did read Stevenson's brilliant prose.

My ability to find spiritual truths in almost every book I read is a blessing and a curse. A blessing because I know the Lord works outside of His Scripture and that His truth can be found in many other genres. Sometimes it really surprises me. And it's a curse because I occasionally want to take a great work of literature and beat someone over the head with it because they're too afraid to even give it a try.

You know my response to her? It was 2 Timothy 1:7 which reads:
God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
How can we develop a sound mind if we put nothing into it?

3 comments:

  1. It's fairly obvious that she hasn't read The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, because if she did, she would realize that the entire point of it is an exploration of how if you permit evil into your life even in some small form, it will consume you. It's one of the most profound books I have ever read. It is about the nature of the human soul and it's fallen state. And truly, there is nothing more HORRIFIC than a sinful heart.

    I can understand not reading things that make you uncomfortable, but to ignore a masterpiece of classic literature because some (wrongly) call it a work of "horror" would be unfortunate. The Victorians had a more profound understanding of good and evil than most modern authors do, and any of their "horror" novels have more depth than most Christian works today.

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    1. You know, we read a little Poe earlier in the class and she never said anything. Now, if there was a specifically "horror" genre for the Victorians, he would have been their leader! but she participated in that discussion without any problems. I just, I don't understand where she's coming from. There's a point where you cross the line between guarding your heart and choosing ignorance. I'm afraid she's crossing that line and it's frustrating me no end. Even our instructor was stunned because she's never had this issue arise and she doesn't consider Stevenson to be a horror writer, which he really isn't. Not the man who wrote "Kidnapped" and "Treasure Island!" this particular short story came to him in a dream and it was unlike anything he'd ever written before. That doesn't make him a horror writer.

      She's generalizing a literary genre as "evil" which would include Frank Peretti and you know how much I love him. If her Scripture verse and interpretation is to be taken literally then Christian horror writers don't know God and that is a sinful and judgmental claim to make.

      As you can tell I'm still somewhat hot under the collar but I said my piece to her in a gentle manner and won't say anything else to her. I doubt it would do any good anyway but I hope the 5 posts she's received in response might help her do a little thinking and soul-searching.

      Another question that's arisen in my other class (oh joy) has to do with the spiritual nature of Thomas Jefferson. There's one young man who, for all intents and purposes, despises him. His argument against Jefferson is slavery and he even calls him a "so-called" founder of our great nation. I'm surrounded by morons this last week of class! ARGH!

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    2. ... wut?

      So she was fine with the gruesomeness of Poe, but she isn't fine with Stevenson? It makes me wonder if her argument isn't against the author rather than his works; did Stevenson have any open "sin" in his life that would cause her to be more condemning of him than Poe?

      Christians are called to be "in" the world, but not of it, right? So does that mean we cannot infiltrate secular branches of literature and infuse them with hope? Doesn't the horror genre deserve Dekker and Peretti, in order to bring light into the darkness? How can you influence people if you do not meet them where they are?

      Of course, I don't find any of her sentiments logical, so it's hard to argue with them.

      OH NO HE DIDN'T.

      If this young man knew anything about Jefferson -- which he obviously does not -- he would know that Jefferson wanted to put abolition into the Declaration of Independence, but was overruled out of concern from other delegates that the southern Colonies would not agree to vote for separation from England if they were forced to give up the slaves on their plantations. Yes, Jefferson owned slaves. He inherited most of them, and he went into massive debt in his later years because he refused to sell any of them and thus separate families. Oh, yes, Jefferson was a monster, all right. =P

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