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Eat Right and Exorcise

What if a Christian author took that bold step and blended the obscene with the holy (and wrote an awesome story too)? What would be people’s reactions?
| Jan 13, 2016 | 4 comments |

A couple of y1757498ears ago, I blazed through William Blatty’s The Exorcist. It pretty much blew my mind into a million pieces. I’ve never seen the film and though I already knew the general idea, the book was very nearly a masterpiece.

It also got me thinking: demon possession is real (and so are exorcisms, though I don’t necessarily believe in the ritualized Catholic version – a simple “I cast you out in the name of God!” was good enough for Jesus’ disciples). Anyway, the terrifying behavior that Blatty describes is also real (The Exorcist is purportedly based on true events), and I applaud him for telling a nuanced story of skepticism, faith, doubt, psychiatry, trauma, and impossible phenomena, rather than just a spooky battle of wills and crucifixes. I wouldn’t label The Exorcist as a Christian book; to me, it draws similar parallels to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, in that resolute faith in God’s power and recognition of man’s unworthiness are essential to defeating the devil and his lies, though distinct Christian doctrine is only referenced indirectly.

But what if a Christian author penned an explicitly Christian book and included all of the withering obscenities and graphic vulgarity that Blatty uses? Not just to shock and horrify, but to ground their story in reality? In documented demonic possession accounts, the most filthy, vile language and actions take place. In some of my books, Satanism is a major theme and I allude to perversions and rituals, but it’s mostly done for melodrama and atmosphere. But what if a Christian author took that bold step and blended the obscene with the holy (and wrote an awesome story too)? What would be people’s reactions? I am sure there are plenty of “true” accounts of things like this, but what would happen if the author wrote a story that was pure fiction, yet chose to include graphically horrifying elements?

Conservative Christians and churches would probably decry it outright, and perhaps within reason. Just because something is compelling and real doesn’t mean it needs to be dwelt upon. But stuff like this isn’t just the product of demented authors looking for twisted ways to goose the audience; it’s documented and real in some form or another. I just wonder how the Christian market would respond.

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J.M. Hackman
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J.M. Hackman

My guess is it would be banned by the most conservative, no matter how compelling the story. If there was a theme of redemption woven through the tale, perhaps the more liberal would accept it. It’s hard to predict.

Leah Burchfiel
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Leah Burchfiel

Well, it would be hard to predict the individual’s response. For the Establishment(s), I’m leaning towards such a story being dead on arrival, if only based on the fact that The Exorcist isn’t Approved By the Gatekeepers That Be. That’s even despite Frank Peretti’s stuff being a reasonably good seller in that market: Peretti just isn’t an envelope-pusher, not compared to horror benchmarks like Stephen King.

Audie Thacker
Member

As someone who is a rather conservative Christian, and sees no reason to apologize for that, I have to wonder why an account would need “withering obscenities and graphic vulgarity” to be considered real. There are several accounts in the Bible of possessions, but they don’t offer us such tantalizing details, and maybe we are better for it.

I don’t have to look at the words and actions of a demoniac to find obscenities and vulgarities. I can simply look at the normal world, the world that celebrates and normalizes sexual perversions, that looks at evils and call them good. More then that, I can look in myself, and see all kinds of obscene and vulgar sins.

There may be some good, as story-tellers, in trying to make sin appear sinful. But there are lines that we can cross into glorifying sins, a line I crossed in some of my early writing attempts, things I’ve had to repent of.