The blog Theofantastique started a couple of years before this one. I remember that sense of childhood wonder that flooded me when I first saw its posts about books and movies with monsters—the kinds of things l always liked to read and watch. But it was more than that. This particular blog presents the very tangible connection between religion and horror. Not only horror, though. As the title indicates, this is a place for genre fiction of three closely related kinds: science fiction, fantasy, and horror. The three are separated by mere degrees of semantics, and all three play very near to the third rail we call religion. In my way of thinking, horror is probably the closest of the three, but I shift among this secular trinity and often wonder in which genre I am at the moment.
For someone who grew up being taught that religion was all about history—including a history of the future, mapped, plotted, and planned just as carefully as a summer vacation—seeing the connection with genres that are all acknowledged to be fiction was, at first, a little shocking. I’d been taught in literature classes that genre fiction wasn’t really literature at all. “Pulps” were printed on cheap paper because, as you might again guess from the name, they weren’t worth much. Many of those books are now collectors’ items and cost a pulp mill to purchase. My list of books from my childhood that I’d like to recover has me looking with some worry toward my bank book. The thing is, these are often insightful statements about religion.
Monsters were always a guilty pleasure for me. Being small, shy, and insecure, it was easy to understand things from the monster’s point of view. And very often religion was implicated. Sitting in my apartment in New Jersey, at times unemployed, I began to explore the connection between religion and horror. I thought I was the only one. Eventually I discovered kindred souls, and soon came to understand that monsters are perhaps the purest representations of what religion can do. Even after writing two books about this subject, Theofantastique is a place unlike any other I know. It has far more readers than I ever will, but this isn’t Godzilla v. Mothra. No, we’re all in this together. And we’re gathered together for one purpose. In any other circumstances you’d say it was religious.