The Value Of Monsters

MonsterI’m not a horror person. I don’t go to horror movies, and I try not to read horror literature (once in a while I’ve acquiesced and read a novel by a friend or for a blog tour). I’m not big on supernatural stories either, which usually have some type of confrontation with demons. I’ve chalked this up to the fact that I don’t like to be scared.

I figured no one liked to be scared, so I couldn’t understand why a great many people “enjoyed” horror stories. Lo and behold, when I actually took time to ask around, I discovered that a lot of people actually DO like to be scared. They get a rush of adrenaline that jolts them, and they find the experience exhilarating.

Except . . . then I discovered some people who like monster stories but not demon stories. The monsters are pretend, the explanation goes, but the demons are real. The monster stories inevitably show victory over the monsters. They help process through make-believe what we must contend with in real life. And good wins out in the end.

In the long run, I think that’s precisely the function monsters serve. We are faced with humans who act like monsters because of the corruption of sin. Sometimes we see our own monstrous tendencies. And of course there are the rulers, powers, world forces of this darkness, and the spiritual forces of wickedness–spiritual monsters–Paul says are our true enemies (see Eph. 6:12).

Fictitious monsters put limits on evil. They become more manageable when they have a defined scope and a finite appearance. Oh the other hand, I suspect one reason vampires (until Twilight) were such feared monsters was their immortality. If you can’t kill a monster, it becomes infinitely more frightening.

Some of the most famous horror stories were, in fact, centered on efforts to kill what seemed to be indestructible.

Perhaps the best and most truthful horror story would be the one that shows a monster that cannot be overcome, at least not by ordinary humans. We are, after all, without means to defeat sin and Satan. God alone can put an end to those we war against.

But I suppose most monster stories aren’t about ultimate victory as much as they are temporal overcoming. After all, stab a stake into the heart of one vampire, and another one creeps around the corner into town.

So we battle one monster at a time, and perhaps the make-believe stories help some to go forward into the fight, equipped and prepared and less afraid.

Me? I’ll just confess it up front: I’m a coward. I would much rather hide from the prowling lion, the wolf in sheep’s clothes, the dragon breathing fire. I have a Rock, a Fortress, a Deliverer, and I prefer taking refuge in Him. 😉

Published in: on October 31, 2013 at 5:26 pm  Comments (6)  
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  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you for having the courage to speak up on this topic, and also for posting such a pic as an illustration. There is a strong tendency in much of the Christian literary world to marginalize horror, especially monster stories, and act as if this genre simply does not exist — perhaps because of the sub rosa notion that this genre ought not to exist in the first place. But monsters won’t be ignored. It’s not in their nature. For monsters come in all shapes and sizes. The Frankenstein Monster, the unnatural; Count Dracula and all his kin, the supernatural; nature gone berserk as in the French thriller Prey and 1979’s Prophecy. These are just a very few. Monsters, to me, remind us much more of the reality of our sin-cursed world and our Lord’s victory over it than so-called spiritual warfare yarns where the author’s imagination runs riot and roughshod over scripture. But it’s easy to deal with things invisible, like demon stories — not so much with monsters, because they make us uncomfortable, as you point out, and we don’t like being uncomfortable. But let us remain uncomfortable. The monsters won’t go away. Monster stories show us the horror, if you will, of sin — but also the Triumph of Grace over that sin. Once again, thank you for facing your fear, as it were, and posting on this subject. May the Lord reward you for your faithfulness and fortitude! Soli Deo Gloria!


    • HG, I’ll never be a fan of horror, and I suspect a part of me will always wonder why it is a draw to others, but I’ve done an about face in that I now understand some people actually are confronting evil in these stories and seeing good triumph.

      I have reservations about the ways in which good wins, too, but then I have to remind myself, it’s fiction. The how is not the key. Destroying the One Ring by throwing it into the fires of Mount Doom was hardly a Biblical picture of how we are to handle sin. But standing against evil and resisting its temptation and being willing to sacrifice all–those principles are true. So I can agree there is truth in monster stories, and it might be the truth someone else needs to read.



      • Thank you again for broadening not just your own horizons but challenging us all to do so in turn.


  2. What a relevant perspective. I can relate to what you’re saying and I share your point of view. I like the way you consider the difference between monsters and demons and what draws people to monster movies. Very interesting insight!


    • Thanks, Katiera. As I said in my post, this was a perspective I came to second hand. 😉 A friend of mine explained why she wrote stories with monsters but wouldn’t read a popular book with a demon. Definitely was eye-opening for me.



      • “A friend of mine explained why she wrote stories with monsters but wouldn’t read a popular book with a demon.” Trafficking with demons is something God condemns in His Word in the strongest terms, so why is it so much “fun” to write and/or read about them? It’s almost a form of wishful divination, as far as I am concerned. I concur with your friend’s sentiment in the strongest possible terms. Thanks again for having the courage to speak out!


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