(2004) Film Roundtable

This page was created on October 26, 2004
This page was last updated on October 29, 2004

The Grudge
(US 2004)
Ju-On: The Grudge
(Japan 2003)
Overview
Review by Mike Furches
Review by Ed Travis
Round Table Discussion
Trailers, Photos
About this Film pdf
Forum
Review BY Darrel Manson
Trailers, Photos
About this Film
Spiritual Connections
Forum



THE GRUDGE
ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION

From the Reviewers at
Hollywood Jesus

MIKE FURCHES:
Hey all thought this would make a good discussion. I just did a review of The Grudge and loved the movie. Horror is a style that seems to receive more criticism than does even satire from Christians. I have found few movies address the spiritual side of evil like Horror and have not had an issue with it. I actually have enjoyed various sides of it. I would especially be interested in Maurice's perspective on this. I get more negative mail from the horror I review than anything, I still get mail from Dawn of the Dead. Just look at this response I have already received from my review. I am including first the review and then the comment. This could make a great roundtable because it obviously ruffles some feathers within the Christian Community:

Various responses I have received:

   Doesn't your liberty end, where your weaker brothers conscious begins? How could you possibly argue from a Biblical standpoint, that many of the movies that you have reviewed are edifying to anyone, let alone a Christian? I honestly don't expect to change your views. But rather, I felt compelled to defend the conservative Christian viewpoint. (end)
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   Jesus said if you think adulterous thoughts, you are guilty of committing adultery. Intimacy is intended for the marriage bed, not the silver screen. Physical, romantic intimacy is meant for husbands and wives, not actors. Even a man or woman’s lips belong to their true spouse or future spouse, not to another actor or actress. Do not facilitate inappropriate or immoral behavior by having individuals (i.e., actors) not married to each other performing acts which are rightly reserved only to a married man and woman. (end)
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   Do not create eye trap temptations or visual stumbling blocks for film viewers that lead to coveting something which is sacred and does not belong to them. Specifically, we want to strongly discourage the portrayal of all forms of immodest or inappropriate dress. Moreover, in a day and age of rampant immorality in which sensuality is paraded before the American people in every imaginable medium of communication, the Christian filmmaker should seek to honor Christ by maintaining the highest standards for the Lord. (end)
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   1 John 2:16   For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. (end)
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   Please tell me you didn't mean what you just said. So you're proud of your former lifestyle? You can honestly look back at the lifestyle you once lived, and find nothing to be ashamed of? That may explain plenty.
   Romans 6:21-23 Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death....
   Ephesians 4:22-24 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires to be made new in the attitude of your minds and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
   I believe the Bible clearly teaches that it's natural for the born again Christian to be ashamed of the way he once lived.
The Bible teaches that the Christian should be ashamed of even mentioning what the disobedient do in secret, let alone exposing ourselves to it in living color.
It not only teaches we shouldn't mention the wickedness that the disobedient engage in, but says to rather expose it for what it really is. I don't interpret that to mean we are to glorify those things, and subject ourselves to watching and enjoying it, and then to suggest others do the same. How can a Pastor interpret it that way?
   Ephesians. 5:8-14 ...Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret....
   As a self proclaimed Pastor, you surely realize you are held to a higher standard.
   1 Timothy 3:1-7 This is a faithful saying: if a man seeks the office of an overseer, he desires a good work. The overseer therefore must be without reproach...
   I do not claim to be perfect. But I do expect more from one who professes to be a Bible Believing Pastor. It doesn't take a Christian to see the hypocrisy in your attitude and lifestyle.
   Is there no right and wrong? Is there no truth? Is the Church now expected to buy into moral relativism as some professing Christians already have?
You cannot preach to an unbelieving world, when you have absolutely nothing to offer them. How can a prisoner attempt to set another prisoner free?
   Do we preach to unbelievers to repent of their sins and turn to Jesus for mercy, all the while casually engaging in the same sins that we are called to expose?
Please spare me and other conservative Bible Believers the Liberal interpretation of these verses. The verses are plain to see for everyone. Liberty or Grace is not a license to sin. As the Bible says, May it never be. (end)
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JIM DAVIS :
First off, thanks Mike for your honesty and your review (I have thought about going to see "The Grudge" myself).

In regards to the horror movie genre, some years ago a very good friend of mine (who happened to be someone that I worked with in ministry) was having some marriage problems and receiving some counseling support. His counselor, who was also a Christian, recommended that my friend and his wife rent and view a movie titled "Needful Things", (which is based on a book by author Stephen King). At first I thought that this was a very strange recommendation, especially coming from a Christian counselor and aimed at a Christian couple. My friend said that viewing this movie was very beneficial for him and his wife, as the whole focus of the movie was based around the assumptions that we all make about each other (our motives, intentions, etc.), and that the movie provided a good amount of insight that proved to be helpful.

Out of curiosity and my friends recommendation I rented the video of the movie, and found it to be very insightful (and also entertaining too!). On my own, without any input or encouragement from a close friend I would have never ventured out to rent this movie (I had never read any Stephen King books, and thought that Christians should not expose themselves to this material), but was glad that I did. I have since recommended this video to others who I thought would benefit from the insightful content contained within (especially on the whole matter of the difficulties associated with the assumptions, oftentimes false ones, that we all make in our relationships).

This experience helped me to adjust my perspective in regards to the resources that are available to help, and to not be so reactionary and closed to "judge the proverbial book by its cover" (literally and figuratively speaking!).
DARREL MANSON:
In the Jan. 30, 2002, issue of The Christian Century (oh no, a trip to the library stacks), screenwriter Scott Derrickson has an article excepted from an address he gave at BIOLA. In it he says:

My work in the horror genre has made me controversial among Christians. But as a Christian, I defend horror films. No other genre offers audiences a more spiritual view of the world, and no other genre communicates a more dearly defined moral perspective. Haunted-house films like Poltergeist and The Uninvited offer a perspective rare in cinema--the recognition that there actually is a spiritual realm. Zombie films like Dawn of the Dead are satirical indictments of American consumerism, but they also present the uniquely Christian idea of bodily resurrection. More mainstream horror films like Angel Heart, The Exorcist and Rosemary's Baby explore the satanic and demonic realm with feverish moral passion. And even the so-called slasher genre ought to be appreciated as the only kind of film that makes murder truly horrific. Though slasher movies seems to take the extreme and disturbing view that if you're young and have sex, you deserve to be butchered, the usual perspective of contemporary films seems to be equally extreme in the opposite direction, for they imply that teenage sex is altogether exempt from moral judgment. More than any other genre, horror clearly communicates the distinction between good and evil.
MAURICE BROADDUS:
I think that part of the problem when talking to Christians about horror is their preconceived ideas of what horror is. They automatically think demons and gore. When you point out that "The Sixth Sense" is a horror movie, they are usually shocked out of their "I don't watch horror" stance. Horror is about dealing with fear, an attempt to get a cathartic release in dealing with things that scare us, usually with an element of the supernatural. Which means that the Bible, in many respects, is the ultimate horror story. And as "The Passion of the Christ" reminded us, there is more than a little bit of gore involved. In fact, a brutal death followed by a resurrection sounds like the plot to many a horror story.

There are many kinds of horror: Atmospheric, supernatural, serial killer, splatter/"gross out" and other ways I could categorize it. But I tend to think that horror writers fall into two very general camps: traditionalists and extremists (for lack of better terms). It is the tools you use to scare that define what camp you find yourself in.Traditionalists tend to be more character driven, letting the horror arise from or intrude on the mundane. They are often more atmospheric, and explore the eerie or weird with a moral sensibility to their work. Oh yeah, traditionalists are good vs. evil moralists.

Extremists are (much) more visceral. Quicker to go for the blood and guts/gross out or the perverse. I'm actually disturbed by how much value-loaded (read: judgmental sounding) language I'm using, but it's the easiest way I know to describe it. I'm more of a traditionalist, which is not to say 1) that I don't occasionally enjoy a good extremist or 2) that traditionalists or extremists exclusively write with only that set of tools. It's a pallette: You have a broad spectrum of colors and styles to choose from to create your painting. And sometimes it's like your taste in music: most times I listen to 70's R&B, but sometimes I need a little Rage Against the Machine or Dream Theater to get me going. Most times I naturally gravitate toward the traditionalist stuff Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, but sometimes I need a shot of Clive Barker (Hellraiser, Candyman) or John Shirley to shock the palate.

The book that got me to be even more bold about displaying my Christianity in my work was a book by Stephen King entitled "Desperation". The basic theme of the novel, now pay close attention since we can't learn anything from these "scary books", is that if you are not in a state of faith, you are in a state of desperation. And the hero of the novel is the most well rounded Christian kid I have ever read in any genre. [Keep in mind, however, it is a horror novel, and it does have its share of visceral thrills.]
MELINDA LEDMAN:
I saw my first horror movie at 8 years old - Salem's Lot, a good ole' Stephen King vampire flick. I was so terrified that I had nightmares until I was 12 years old and other things in life seemed more important than vampires. Knowing that I have been "gifted" with a vivid imagination, I resolved not to watch any more horror movies for the rest of my life - something I have maintained fairly easily.

As for other folks, I know that many of my friends grew up watching horror flicks and laughed at all of the B-rated animation and costuming faux pas. It doesn't bother them a bit because the fear part has very little factor in their enjoyment of the film. If a person can watch these films with a discerning eye and not internalize them like others (me), then I think it's alright for them. It becomes a completely different form of entertainment, neither based in fear nor reality - almost like my passion for sci fi.

I have wrestled with this issue concerning my own kids. On one hand, if you watch horror flicks with them and point out all of the stunts, inconsistencies, etc., they can be taught that these images are not real. The danger of not exposing them (much like shielding them from an awareness of atrocities that truly exist in life - starvation, abuse, poverty, etc.), is that they can be very shocked and frightened by them. Now, I'm not saying we SHOULDN’T be shocked by such things, because that sense of injustice is what prompts us to action on the real issues of life. Therein lies the benefit of a pure mind which readily discerns between good and evil. The shock value of evil dissuades one from participating in it and also encourages one to fight it. And yet...kids should not be so afraid of these films that they have nightmares for four years when they first see one. Wink wink.

For my kids, I have landed in a sort of middle place. Since I cannot stand to watch horror flicks myself and my daughter is terrified by some of the simple events in Finding Nemo, I have decided to make use of commercials and trailers that are shown on television. This way, I can point out that horror movies are make-believe without innundating her mind with garbage. She is such a little parrot: hear = say, see = do. I do know that too much garbage or exposure to crippling fear will affect her spiritual growth. For myself, I don't feel that I've been robbed of anything wonderful by never seeing another horror flick. I doubt she will be either.

Beware: Soapbox - I actually have a bigger concern for shows like CSI, which air on television (accessible to all ages) and flagrantly show/discuss sexual abuse, child abuse, incest, mutilation, and every kind of possible interpersonal evil that can happen between two people. It just makes me wonder what the next generation will grow up thinking is "normal." I feel that my child will have a much harder time standing for Christ when she is my age. I do believe in the philosophy of garbage in/garbage out (equally, truth in/truth out), and I believe that Christian purists and those who live their lives in total moral deprivation will become more polarized. With the increase of shows like CSI, people will likely begin to flock to one camp or the other, and the lukewarm middle class will become a rather narrow margin of the population. Gen Xers have been somewhat sheltered from harm because of that lukewarm middle class (for instance, there were no Columbine stories in the whole nation during my youth), but I think that security blanket is coming off. I would rather equip my kids to deal with such things by innundating them with Biblical truth rather than media top-sellers.

In an age where the stand will be harder, I feel I should work that much harder to use situations, experiences, the Bible, and life lessons to more firmly ground my kids in a legitimate, real-life faith in Christ that they can count on long after I'm gone. This includes things like taking food and supplies to the poor, volunteering at hospitals and nursing homes, praying for friends at school who have bruises all over them, etc. But, as for horror, I think the trailers will do just fine. :)

MARK EZRA STOKES:
I really think Melinda hit the nail on the head in talking about children's reactions to horror films. My first real horror flick was also a Stephen King movie. I was nine and had convinced my father that I was big enough to watch the film IT if he taped it so I could watch it in the daylight.

Big mistake.

For some reason, I was completely mortified. Because of my previous love for clowns, I completely redecorated my room to avoid eye contact with a certain Ringling Bros. poster until a few years ago. For years, I couldn't see pictures of Pennywise or hear someone say "Wanna balloon? They float!" without going into a complete panic attack.

About two years ago, I decided to face my greatest fear and watch the film again. As a film student and critic, I was able to appreciate the elements that made it suspenseful and scary. Though I was still overly-tense when using the bathroom that night, I was able to divorce fantasy from reality. I was also able to see just how cheesy and unrealistic much of it was.

I am now able to enjoy thrillers and horror films because I CAN discern the difference between reality and fantasy. Children don't have that ability. I once heard of a psychological study that concluded that, because of the incompleteness of their brains (I'm sure there's a more scientific way of putting it), children are especially susceptible to violence and other elements we'd be able to easily brush off. One of the things that burns me up most is when parents take their children to films that were clearly not marketed for children. We won't get on that soapbox, though.

Back to horror films. I do find it difficult to watch certain horror films--especially those dealing with the occult or demons--because of some personal experiences with the demonic. (Okay, now I've labeled myself as the resident kook. I'll just say that freaky stuff happens to missionary kids in mystic, third-world countries.)

All rambling aside, I guess my point was that the psychological difference between the adult and child brain should not be ignored. We as adults normally do have the ability to discern the real from the not-so-real and are able to learn from the spiritual themes. As Mike mentioned, though, if horror films cause you to stumble in your walk with Christ, by all means never EVER watch another horror film again. If, however, you're able to find a bridge that presents the hope of Christ in contrast with a hopeless, frightening ending,--an opportunity to share your faith with someone whose been disenfranchised by our all-too-present piety--you'd better hit the video store this instant!
ELISABETH LEITCH:
First off, I admit that like Melinda I also tend to have an overactive imagination and therefore do not tend to jump in my car to hit the theaters every time a new horror film comes out. And even today, I still have very real memories of months of terror after seeing some film (probably more comedy than horror now that I think about it) about someone's mother turning into a werewolf when I was little.

When it comes to the value of horror films, however, I believe they have just as much value as any other film genre in the theaters today. While I have not seen It, The Exorcist, The Ring, any of the Scream movies, or any of the many recent zombie type movies, many of the movies that have left me thinking about the deeper things of life long after I saw them have in fact been dark/scary (if not horror) movies.

Concerning movies involving demons, ghosts, Satan and other manifestations of "spiritual" forces of evil, I very much agree with Maurice that these movies really are an extraordinary vehicle for getting people to think about spiritual matters. For those of us who may not have witnessed demons like Mark, these movies help us to recognize that evil and Satan's presence is very real. While we might wish that we and others might recognize a spiritual world by simply recognizing God in our lives or watching movies about angels, I believe horror helps people to at least consider a spiritual world in a way that is less obtrusive than a portrayal of benevolent spiritual forces would. Through fear, horror/scary movies are able to circumvent logic that says this world is only what we can see and figure out, b/c we do find ourselves getting scared and in that fear we must recognize a belief in at least the idea behind what caused us to fear. Not just leaving us with this sense of belief centered in fear, however, the recognition of evil forces in horror opens the door for viewers to desire there to be spiritual forces in opposition to the evil ones and a push to believe in them.

Thoughts on specific movies-While The Others was extremely depressing, in the end, it made me wish for God to save Nicole Kidman and bring her up to heaven; by seeing a picture of what afterlife could be, it made me very glad that heaven is real and more convinced in that belief. While The Devil's Advocate was maddening, while the end made me want to step right into the television and slap Al Pacino, it drove home the reality of Satan's presence on this earth, the reality that he will try to trip us up every chance, and made me desire to seek God more and do whatever I could to help him be a larger influence in the world than Satan could ever be.

In movies and television shows were evil is more manifest in humans than in spiritual forces, I also believe the same is true. Again, they open our eyes to the evil in the world. They make us pause to consider how someone could do such horrible things and wish that such evil could be defeated. With evil manifest in people who at one time or another were probably not that different from you and me, it makes us pause to consider how they got there and desire that our lives would never go there. Aligning almost everyone against the bad guy and on the side of the good guy, these movies can also be wake up call to the fact that we do all really believe in good over evil and desire that for our lives and our world. While Se7en may be highly disturbing, in the end, as we yell inside our heads for Brad Pitt not to lower himself to Kevin Spacey's level, we confirm within ourselves that we simply want to end the evil and find the good, that good should triumph over evil, that when it comes to even the most "evil" people we can imagine, evil in return is not the solution (opening the door just slightly for the idea of forgiveness instead of condemnation).

So, those are some thoughts. While horror/violent/scary television shows can be disturbing, I think that so many of them posses the potential to lead us and others to think about things that matter, that we should not condemn them as a whole and push them out of our lives simply because they portray evil. At the same time, however, I personally know that those kinds of movies and television shows can become both a depressing influence that can cause viewers to lose hope instead of see it and/or a source of overwhelming and controlling fear, neither of which is healthy or beneficial as it replaces God as the main influence over how we see and live life. So, I say, if we are able to watch those kinds of movies, let us find God in and through them and milk them for all they are worth, but at the same time be aware of how they will and do affect and influence us and our own walk with the Lord (and those around us).
MAURICE BROADDUS:
When I am confronted on this issue (you know, "how can you call yourself a Christian and write horror?"), I only have two responses. Which one I give depends on my mood.

1) When it comes down to it, many horror writers are moralists. We see the evil in the world and we struggle with why it's there. We struggle with how to deal with it. So we write in reaction to it as a form of therapy. Plus, what other genre of literature has, as part and parcel of its lexicon, the same language of Christianity? By its very nature, horror deals with the issues of the total depravity of man; the nature and reality of evil; speculation about the afterlife; the reality of spiritual beings (angels, demons, spirits) and spiritual powers (the occult); and the drama of the constant battle of good vs. evil.

2) Bite me. In Jesus' name.

MIKE FURCHES:
I don't know who has the most problems with horror or fear. I actually rather hold Horror as an equivalent to a roller coaster or thrill ride at a carnival, with a few obvious differences. In some ways, I believe God has equipped us with different amounts of thrill genes. This comes into question for a couple of reasons; one is the addition of new authors in the Christian realm like Frank Paretti and others. I would not include Ted Dekker there although there are some supernatural tendencies to some of his writings. I also believe that this is a Romans 14 issue. I would ask each one to read that chapter and state if they agree with that equation. The following is from the New Living Translation.

1 Accept Christians who are weak in faith, and don't argue with them about what they think is right or wrong.

2 For instance, one person believes it is all right to eat anything. But another believer who has a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables.

3 Those who think it is all right to eat anything must not look down on those who won't. And those who won't eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them.

4 Who are you to condemn God's servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let him tell them whether they are right or wrong. The Lord's power will help them do as they should.

5 In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. Each person should have a personal conviction about this matter.

6 Those who have a special day for worshiping the Lord are trying to honor him. Those who eat all kinds of food do so to honor the Lord, since they give thanks to God before eating. And those who won't eat everything also want to please the Lord and give thanks to God.

7 For we are not our own masters when we live or when we die.

8 While we live, we live to please the Lord. And when we die, we go to be with the Lord. So in life and in death, we belong to the Lord.

9 Christ died and rose again for this very purpose, so that he might be Lord of those who are alive and of those who have died.

10 So why do you condemn another Christian*? Why do you look down on another Christian? Remember, each of us will stand personally before the judgment seat of God.

11 For the Scriptures say, " `As surely as I live,' says the Lord, `every knee will bow to me and every tongue will confess allegiance to God.' "*

12 Yes, each of us will have to give a personal account to God.

13 So don't condemn each other anymore. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not put an obstacle in another Christian's path.

14 I know and am perfectly sure on the authority of the Lord Jesus that no food, in and of itself, is wrong to eat. But if someone believes it is wrong, then for that person it is wrong.

15 And if another Christian is distressed by what you eat, you are not acting in love if you eat it. Don't let your eating ruin someone for whom Christ died.

16 Then you will not be condemned for doing something you know is all right.

17 For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

18 If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God. And other people will approve of you, too.

19 So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.

20 Don't tear apart the work of God over what you eat. Remember, there is nothing wrong with these things in themselves. But it is wrong to eat anything if it makes another person stumble.

21 Don't eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another Christian to stumble.

22 You may have the faith to believe that there is nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who do not condemn themselves by doing something they know is all right.

23 But if people have doubts about whether they should eat something, they shouldn't eat it. They would be condemned for not acting in faith before God. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.

There is the challenge of where is the appropriate place for fear in the life of one who professes Christ. I think this is a good point of argument. One that each of us have to come to our own conclusions with. The issue of fear to me is kind of like the issue of pride, I sometimes think we have exaggerated or misunderstood the meaning in a contemporary context. We say things like you should never experience or have fear or that you should never feel proud. On the surface, I would agree with those statements. If I were to dig deeper though I would have to wonder if the definition of fear or pride as presented in the Biblical text, is the same definition we would generally grasp in today's world and in today's culture.

Just thinking aloud and asking myself questions here seeking the wisdom of the great ones beyond cyberspace known of as the Hollywood Jesus Family.

CHRIS UTLEY
My $0.02.

1. I saw "The Grudge". I thought it stunk! :o) We had more fun making cat noises in the theatre than we did watching the flick.

2. I stopped going to horror movies for years after I became a Christian. I wrestled with the thought that I was somehow dishonoring God/Jesus for watching films that glorify death. Now, mind you, this was not a diligently, prayed/thought out decision. It was one of those things that I felt I was supposed to do as a new believer: remove myself from the world and surround myself in a completely Christian environment. After all, we're a royal priesthood, a holy nation, consecrated, sanctified and set apart for God. Right?

Then, a few years ago, my wife and I went to see "Final Destination". I felt like I was 15 years old again on opening weekend of the latest "Freddy Krueger" flick. I had so much fun.

How? By allowing COMMON SENSE to rule my decision making process rather than duty and obligation. Duty and obligation would make me yell out in the middle of a film "God is not pleased!" (I actually saw a person do that before in a crowded theatre!) Common Sense says the obvious: It's Only A Movie!

Everything is permissible for me...but, like Paul, I will not be mastered or controlled by anything. Not even these silly little horror flicks. I personally don't OWN many horror flicks but I've seen my fair share in the last few years (the last 2 I liked were "The Ring"--can't wait for the sequel--and the "Dawn Of The Dead" update...I even plan on seeing "Saw" this weekend). I am not an "Exorcist" fan at all...simply because, at the end of that film, Satan (pretty much) was the victorious one. Heck, the younger priest should not have been anywhere near that crucifixion...he had way way too many issues to be spiritually strong enough to handle that responsibility.

At the end of the day, it's only a movie to me. I'm not about to play with Ouija boards or go in my bathroom mirror and say "Candyman" 3 times. I don't believe in killer dolls or undead machete-wielding mass murderers who die and come back every 2-3 years for sequels...nor will I become one. :o) Horror doesn't cause me to stumble, so it's a non issue to me. I don't think it's right for folks to send guilt-trippy emails laden with Scriptures or to ostracize those Christians who enjoy horror flicks.

After all, He commanded us to handle our own salvation with fear and trembling. I don't have time to fuss at you over the untidy pile of papers in your living room knowing full well that my house is in disarray!

Kevin Miller:
I just want to jump in and say that one of my favorite guilty pleasures is "The Shining." Why do I enjoy this film? Should I watch such things? I'm still not sure.

HURT BY THE CHURCH
MAURICE BROADDUS:
I think many Christians would be stunned by how many horror writers are, in fact, Christians. For the last two years, the World Horror Convention had been held on Easter/Passover weekend. The numbers for the convention were down drastically and it took the organizers a while to figure out "maybe we ought to not have it on Easter weekend". In fact the 2005 WHC web site advertises "Not On Easter Weekend".

A lot of those same writers have been truly hurt by the church. One writer told me of how his entire congregation, a body he had grown up with, turned their back on him when he said he was going to pursue a full time career as a horror writer. He struggles with his faith because he wants to seek God, but has no one to do it with. He was so scarred by his experience that he has trouble even thinking about walking into a church.

Another friend of mine was told by her pastor that she was doing the devil's work and that anyone who was determined to follow such a path could not be a part of their worshiping body. She switched churches, kept her hobby to herself, and writes under a pen name.

There is this imagined dived between the secular and the sacred, as opposed to viewing all things as sacred and finding God in all things. There are two reactions to "secular" things: separate or redeem. The former being the preferred method of "Bible-believing Christians" and the latter being a more difficult, and yes, mature, approach to things. Far too many choose to separate themselves from mainstream culture, which is their application of the verses saying to not be a part of the world. Then they turn around and make fun of the Amish, not realizing that they are just as out of step as they are trapped in their Christian ghettos/sub-cultures and reaching no one. You can't reach the "unsaved" if you are too afraid to be around them in fear of being "corrupted" by them. The other option is to redeem the culture, which would be the application of following Paul's (author of many of the New Testament books) example of using his culture's references to promote this new way of thinking. It involves thinking spiritually about all things, "finding the diamonds in the garbage" as it were, and working with them.

I would be perfectly content if they, the "Bible-believing Christians" viewed me as a specialized sort of missionary. One who has studied the culture within which I choose to work, a culture they don't have the tools to reach. And if they said, "I can't do what you do, but I'm glad someone can." Or if they just said that they draw their lines where they do, but as a matter of liberty or not sinning against our own conscience, we are free to draw our lines where our conscience defines; rather than saying that all "Christians" should draw their lines in the same place.

Here are two cool articles on the theology of horror:
(in the spirit of full disclosure, this one was dedicated to me. It's written by a friend of mine, Rich Vincent. David Bruce knows him and has referenced him before) Web page here.

The second article covers some of the same ground, but is an interesting read none the less: Web page here.

LYN MELLONE:

In response to:
 I would be perfectly content if they, the "Bible-believing Christians" viewed me as a specialized sort of missionary. One who has studied the culture within which I choose to work, a culture they don't have the tools to reach. And if they said, "I can't do what you do, but I'm glad someone can."

Well, include me in that category.

I'm glad you've shown "Bible-believing Christians" in quotation marks, because I suspect that what you really mean is something other than what (I think) a true Bible-believing Christian is, something more along the lines of "Christians who use Bible verses to slap down those who think a little differently than they do." I consider myself to be a Bible-believing Christian, and I am sure that Jesus hoped that every follower of his would be a Bible-believing Christian.

Can one of you creative writers try to come up with another way to identify what we all mean?

I know Chris likes to use the term "holy roller," but here again I don't like the idea of agreeing with non-Christians in their derisive terminology for something they don't understand. Sure there are plenty of "Christians" who seem to depend on a public display of a faith that actually can be very superficial, but let's not take up a secular viewpoint towards our brethren.

I think it may be harder for those of you who have had to defend your positions to sound neutral instead of defensive, but as the editor, let me assure you that neutrality carries more credibility. Let's find some descriptive, but respectful, terms we can use.

Mike Smith:
 I'll bite at coining a term "Christianese." Christian by association not nessessarily by conviction.
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