The Conjuring (and Why We Like The Dark)
Disclaimer - in the first part of this post, I make broad statements. I know that not all of my readers are horror fans and I know that not all of my readers are Christian. And many who are one, the other, both or neither may just not like scary stuff. I'm making very large generalizations and I know that. I'm also not trying to convince my friends/readers to partake of subjects that they truly are not interested in. Read on . . .
A few weeks ago I was part of a conversation between Christian writers where we talked about some of our favorite authors and books. As we got to know each other, we relaxed a bit and admitted that we liked to read darker material - Stephen King and Ted Dekker in particular. Even if we (I mean, THEY) didn't stick with reading "scary stories", they all at least tried a few here and there. (I say THEY because I always stick with scary stories - unless they aren't well written.)
Go back and really read that first paragraph - we only admitted that we liked darker stuff after we got to know each other and relaxed. It seems that in Christian circles, we can't freely talk about how we are drawn* to the dark side of literature/film/television. I have Christian friends who apologize for watching The Walking Dead just before we have wonderful conversations about the latest episode. Same with watching Breaking Bad. Why do we automatically think that if we're Christian we have to instantly turn our back on things of a darker nature? Yes, Philippians 4:8 says, "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." But isn't good triumphing over evil good and true? Isn't watching bad choices reap bad consequences right?
Here's the next question - WHY are we drawn to them? We know that they are dark. We know that they are scary. We know, and least in the "we = Christians", that they are not of God. So why do we entertain them?
First, there's the old stand-by - we live in a fallen world. It's our nature as fleshly human beings to wander away from God. God gives us a choice whether or not to follow Him. And we look at those other choices - even when have chosen to follow Him. For me, though, it's not a "grass is always greener thing". It's kind of a "wow, I'm glad I have the hope of Christ" thing. I read books and see movies where characters make choices that I once would have (and sometimes did), but now that I know Christ and have His Word, I wouldn't make those choices. For me, it's a "Whew! Look what could have happened to me!" (Yes, even in the fantasy/supernatural theme - "Whew! I'm so glad that a scary man in my dreams can't REALLY kill me! Uh, I'll just have one more cup of coffee.")
Second, you have to admit that scares give you a thrill like a roller coaster! No, you won't die, you're going to be perfectly safe. You'll just FEEL like you're in danger. A lot of the time that is true - you aren't in danger. How many of us will be stalked by a serial killer or captured by a vampire or torn apart by a werewolf? We read/watch things that maybe have a hint of truth or possibility (could I sell drugs to provide for my family?), but we know that it's all fantasy. We know we'll walk out of the theater/close the book/turn off the TV alive and in one piece. But the thrill is there. It gets our blood pumping.**
There's a third reason we like to enter into the scary realm. We want to shine the light on the darkness and make sure that it really will go away. Darkness cannot exist in the light - it can exist around a beam of light, but it cannot exist within that light. We want to see the figurative of that statement. We want the light to win. And we want to SEE that. As Christians, we have the Bible that tells us that God wins in the end. On a day to day basis, we may not see that as much as we want to. We want to make sure that everything is going to be okay. (And if it's not, we just leave the theater/close the book/turn off the TV and thank God that wasn't us!) So we willingly enter the world and go along for the ride. When we read a book or see a movie or watch a TV show, most of the time the good guys win - a few may not make it (#cough#thewalkingdead#cough#), but they die fighting for a purpose and their purpose prevails.*** It's satisfying. We can sleep at night. (Or maybe the next night.)