Published today, this is the introduction to Scott’s guest blog for The Huffington Post. Jump on over to the HuffPo website by clicking here.
Director Guillermo del Toro’s Oscar-winning Pan’s Labyrinth gave us fantastical creatures and horrifying visions back in 2007. Its rich mythic texture also won it some surprising fans. Indeed, despite its critical rendering of the Catholic’s Church’s support of Franco’s fascist regime, even the US Conference of Catholic Bishops celebrated it for its symbolic representation of young Ofelia’s frightening spiritual journey.
These symbolisms prompted Fresh Air‘s Terri Gross to ask del Toro about his own experience with religion and how it informed his films. “People say, “I accept Jesus into my heart,” he responded, “Well, at a certain age, I accepted monsters into mine.”
More and more, religious studies scholars are looking at both the sacred themes of horror and the horror that lies at the root of sacred narratives. Doug Cowan has analyzed how horror films borrow themes from religious narratives. Timothy Beal examined the monsters of the Hebrew Bible and found a bestiary of terrifying creatures. Kim Paffenroth has even found what he calls “a gospel of the Living Dead” in the zombie oeuvre of George Romero. John Morehead blog has an entire blog dedicated to the intersection of the scary and the sacred.
But these have been primarily academic and scholarly reflections. Could monsters offer a spiritual path? By this I don’t mean as allegories of evil or symbolic threats to the soul, but rather as avatars of the sacred, fit images for spiritual contemplation. Can you accept the monster into your heart?