More about Christian Horror (?)

Before I get started, I want to mention I’ll be putting up the poll for the November CSFF Top Blogger Award soon. You might take some time to read the blog posts from the participants listed in the last post with three checks in front of their names. Those are the bloggers who are eligible for the award.

On Monday I concluded a discussion about the definition of horror with this paragraph:

So where does Shade fit in? Does Dr. Olson’s story about supernatural evil—for clearly, it is that, even though there are no vampires—exist to generate fear, or to wrestle with the forces of evil? Is it a story intended for nothing more than entertainment, or is it attempting a greater goal by entering into the examination of spiritual warfare?

My initial reaction to Shade was that it reminded me of a Frank Peretti book—not a particular one, but that kind of story that brings the supernatural to life in a contemporary setting. I have happily called such books “supernatural suspense,” because they are most definitely not slasher-variety horror. There is a greater purpose than to frighten.

Perhaps adding “Christian” mitigates the denotation of “horror,” and therefore “Christian Horror” is an accurate name for the types of novels (and short stories) that do something greater. I happen to think it is important that people come to grips with the spiritual world. The fact that demons exist, that Satan is real, that a battle is on-going seem to be important facts to grasp if a Christian is to take seriously the Apostle Paul’s admonition to put on spiritual armor.

I’m not so sure about fist fights and knife fights with demon-possessed characters, however. It seems to me that such plot developments may exist primarily to entertain. Not a bad thing, mind you. Stories need to be interesting, after all. But if a book is to reveal something about spiritual warfare in the here and now real world, perhaps the actual tools of fighting evil need to come to the forefront.

Otherwise, how is a reader to think? Evil does exist, but Melchi, who protected Hailey, is just a character in a book. Who is to protect readers, then? Does Shade give any insights into answers of that question?

I don’t think so. Hailey is a Christian, after all, but she does the least fighting of all. In fact, her most proactive role is to run away.

Yes, there are many unanswered questions in Shade, many of which may be addressed in future books. And there are the many subliminal references (I ran across another one today. The Blaise character I wasn’t sure to whom he referred? My guess is it’s Blaise Pascal, the noted 17th century mathematician and Christian apologist who wrote criticizing a trend in the church to use reason to justify certain sins). Yet the actual story seems to be a pleasant yarn, a good vs. evil struggle, with good coming out on top, mostly by happy coincidence and a selfless, sacrificial act from an off camera character.

In the end, I guess the reader needs to decide if he or she thinks this work exists for its entertainment value alone, or if it accomplishes something greater. My guess is Dr. Olson was trying for something greater. Did he pull it off? Up to you to decide.

Published in: on November 20, 2008 at 2:16 pm  Comments (2)  
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  1. Becky,
    I’ve enjoyed following your look at Shade. It has put me in mind of another set of books that deal with spiritual warfare – the Black and White Chronicles by John Aubrey Anderson. Are you familiar with these? If not, you really should look at them…the story and the message is phenomenal! I know that has nothing to do with Shade, but that’s what this post made me think of and I wanted to share!



  2. Hi, Kim.

    Thanks for the feedback. No, I haven’t read the Anderson books. Thanks for alerting us to another series in this same vein. I know people who enjoy spiritual warfare stories are probably a lot like us fantasy readers—thinking there just isn’t enough of what we enjoy out there, especially new stuff.



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