My colleague (if I may be so bold) Brandon Grafius has recently published a piece titled “What Can Horror Teach Us about the Bible?” in Sojourners. Brandon and I have never met in person, but we’ve worked together a number of times. We share an interest in horror and we both teach/taught Hebrew Bible. We’re not the only ones who’ve got this fascination. When I was able to attend the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature annual meetings in person, I would often meet up with others who, apart from their respectable jobs, have a real interest in horror. There are quite a few of us. Some journals, like Sojourners, are starting to ask the obvious question: what do these things have in common?
I can’t claim to have watched all the horror movies ever made. It’s actually pretty difficult to access some of those I’d like to see and, believe it or not, I’m actually a selective viewer. Often my choices are dictated by research. Back when I was young, in college and seminary, I’d go to see horror movies with friends. Since I was living alone in seminary that sometimes led to sleepless nights. I recall vividly being unable to sleep after watching David Cronenberg’s remake of The Fly. (To this day I still haven’t seen the original with Vincent Price. I see that it’s available to stream on Amazon Prime, and since we’ve got the internet back perhaps it’s time I do that.) What I can claim is that I’ve always watched movies for religious elements and that I often find horror isn’t lacking in that department.
The point of Brandon’s article is that there are horror stories in the Bible. Indeed, the more I ponder the Good Book the more I see that makes it a frightening text indeed. Once you get past the sugar coating, there’s fear of substance inside. Funnily enough, it seems Jesus didn’t often play the fear card, although even he did so from time to time, according to the Gospels. Religion, which gives us such hope, also makes us so very afraid. I’m really glad to know that I’m not the only one who’s started to come to that conclusion. So maybe it’s natural for those raised religious to be fond of monsters. Getting others to admit it can be tricky, and I’m sure some genuinely don’t like them. Still, when you’re in a scary place, it’s best not to be alone.