Stephen King as Christian novelist

Stephen King as Christian novelist June 20, 2012

An interesting take on King that doesn’t really surprise me at all. I read an interview with him once in which he remarked that he saw himself standing in the great tradition of such New England Protestant preachers as Jonathan “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” Edwards. I also recall him writing a review of A Prayer for Owen Meany in which he instantly caught the fact that the novel was basically a retelling of the Paschal Mystery. People who aren’t thinking Christianly don’t notice such stuff. So, for instance, it had to be pointed out to Steven Spielberg that ET was also basically a retelling of the Christian story (Hero descends from heaven, is friend of children, has the power to heal, teaches wisdom, is persecuted, suffers, dies, comes back to life, promises to remain with his disciple, ascends into heaven. Where have you heard that story before?). Spielberg was surprised.

It’s hard for an artist to avoid God, even when the artist is an atheist and even when he’s making schlock. It’s what critic Jeffrey Overstreet calls the Inescapability of the Gospel. I remarked on this here.

What it means for us is that the mere fact that an artist is an atheist or pagan or whatnot does not mean their work is necessarily going to be anti-christian. A good artist who sets out to tell the truth will, by virtue of the fact that he is a good artist, wind up revealing Christ whether he realizes it or not and whether he likes it or not in some cases. Of course, an artist can choose to let his hostility to Christ to actually overwhelm, distort, pervert and deaden his better artistic judgement, as for instance, Phillip Pullman did, resulting in this delectable autopsy of the His Dark Materials trilogy by the inimitable John C. Wright.

But a decent artist who does not set out to keep all traces of Christ out of his secondary world can’t help but letting him in. Good art tells the truth, and Jesus is the truth. So he finds ways into our lives far beyond apologetics syllogisms.

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