The Aesthetics of Genre: Horror

deep-sea-anglerfishWhen it comes to the genre of horror, many Christians have pronounced it ugly, sinful, nasty, and won’t give it the time of day. Others may enjoy the adrenalin rush of a good scare from the safe distance of a book or theater seat, but may not admit it to their church friends. Then there are individuals, like myself, that find the genre of horror useful.

 

I like to read things that make me better, challenge me in someway. Good horror, like good science fiction and fantasy, will do that for me.  That’s not to say that contemporary fiction or YA fiction doesn’t do that either, but good horror has a very special way of challenging a reader on deeper topics. Before you chastise me for not mentioning the Bible, remember that you will find all the known genres, including horror, in that Book of books.

People seldom equate being frightened as useful.Like I pointed out in my last blog entry, being afraid of the right things can be helpful. To me, good horror isn’t about inciting blind fear or terrifying an audience. There is horror like that, and I almost never waste my time on that. Good horror it’s about challenging fear in the right way. This is where aesthetics come in. All genres have aesthetics (linked to definition above), it is what happens when an author’s story collides with a readers expectations, imagination, and world view. These are a few that a great horror story will touch on for me.

  • What is beauty?
  • What makes something beautiful?
  • What is good?
  • What makes something bad?
  • What is evil?
  • What makes something or someone evil?
  • If something looks beautiful, is it automatically good?
  • Can God redeem Evil?
  • Should God redeem Evil?
  • Should those given to Evil be redeemed?
  • If something is ugly to me does that make me the monster?
  • What happens when a human tries to play God (you know mad scientists)?
  • What does it mean to be human?

As frightening as a horror story may appear on first blush, it is my response to it that always interests me. Some of the most frightening stores to me portray Evil as banal or everyday. A good example of this is the bureaucracy of Hell in Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters.

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There are several things I find useful in good horror, and it isn’t blood and gore or the fact that a story may give me nightmares for months. In fact, the shock and gore horror is something I rarely care for, much like jump scare scenes in movies. Such tactics are nothing more than a trick at your audience’s expense, tricking an audience is inexcusable.

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All fiction has the ability to challenge and inform. What makes horror so different is it’s ability to challenge specifically the things we fear. When done right, even cause us to evaluate those fears and perhaps strengthen our humanity. For your viewing pleasure, here is a good example of something from a sub-genre of horror. Something that actually hits a little closer to home and current events. The type of horror I find useful (It’s in two parts).

 

 

Would you classify these videos as horror? Why or why not?

 

The next post I do is on the topic of sub-genres of Horror. You might be surprised as to what you find in them.

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What if the Body of Christ Looked Like This?

Imagine for a few minutes with me, if you will.

Imagine if every Christian did what they were created to do.  If every disciple of Christ followed so completely the life path plotted specifically for him or her by the all-knowing God.  If each servant were so in tune with God’s heart that selfish motives, worthless pursuits, worldly amBIblebitions simply vanished.  Crowded out by the very character of God, invited and allowed to inhabit His people, until there would be no room for anything else.

No thought to what others would think.

No endless nights spent contemplating the why or the how.

No embarrassment or self-consciousness.

Nothing but straight forward obedience.

What would that even look like in today’s world?

The factory worker, the school nurse, the drug store cashier, the bank executive, the pastor, the surgeon—each living a life so in touch surgeonwith the Father that every moment was about ministry.  The salesman, the athlete, the police chief, the lawyer, the missionary, the author—each with a life and faith so molded together that no line distinguished between living and ministry.  Every disciple more concerned with being who God wanted him to be, with doing what God wanted her to do, that nothing else mattered.

Just imagine how this would change how we do church.

FreeDigitalPhotos.net By Sira Anamwong,

A pastor before his congregation, literally on his face at the feet of God seeking only to be His vessel. So empowered to speak the word of the Lord that he delivers with absolute freedom and humble confidence that very message no matter how unpopular… or controversial… or unpleasant it may be.

The worship leader, the praise team, the soloists all bowed in prayer, seeking the anointing of the Lord, calling on His name alone, in the moments before His service begins.  Again, no misaligned motives, no false ambitions, no faithless missions ….. nothing but Spirit-led pursuits.

Parishioners, one and all, expressing his sacrifice of praise or her act of worship in complete freedom, not concerned with man’s appraisal or blessing, criticism or review.  Lifting hands, hearts, voices in praise, worship, and adoration.  Reaching for and touching the very hem of His garment in true, life-changing worship.

Servants respondingguy praying to God’s voice, His intimate leading—no matter where they are seated, no matter who’s watching, no matter the depth of the call—with not one thought to how anyone but the everlasting God will judge them. Being obedient to the Spirit’s call regardless of what such obedience asks of them. Whatever it may be. Praying with or seeking forgiveness from a fellow congregant. Bowing before the Almighty at a point in the service not designated for such behavior. Embarking on a change in vocation that will rock their world. Whatever it may be—settling for nothing less than total and complete obedience.

Imagine if ideas large and small could be trusted because concern that self-gratification or hot-headed impulsiveness or incompetent notions provide the guiding force would be virtually nonexistent.  Just think if every God-inspired idea received the effort and attention it deserved. No missing the boat. No neglected opportunities. No need for do-overs. Just imagine the possibilities.

What about free will? It would still exist but seldom—rarely even—would it contradict the calling and the very purpose of the Almighty God. Why? Because His all-consuming Spirit would so indwell each servant, creating not only the perfect union of faith and trust, commitment and power, but the most fertile soil for obedience.

With abandon the saints would march on. Not reckless abandon—without a plan or purpose. But rather an abandon controlled by and filled to over flowing with Spirit-led confidence. An abandon free of nagging doubts, needless worry. An abandon empowered by God himself.

Oh, that our world—our hurting, confused, misguided world—could experience such a manifestation of God’s people being God’s people.

FreeDigitalPhotos.net by imagerymajestic

FreeDigitalPhotos.net
by imagerymajestic

 Oh, God, I want to be so in tune with you each moment of each day that every minute of my life is about being Jesus, about doing His will.

I implore your SPIRIT to so fill me that hour by hour there is less of me  and more, so much more of You.

As I seek to fully know and live your plan for my life, remind me of the necessity of being in touch moment by moment with You, the Author and Perfecter of my faith.

Make me, oh, God, into the servant-minded instrument you desire me to be.

May I live to worship YOU.

May YOU be the very air that I breathe.