435: What connections do you see between Spirituality and … Horror?

HERE’S A “FIRST” for ReadTheSpirit: Horror and Spirituality.
    We’ve talked about scary stuff before. Way back in 2007, we published an interview with Bible scholar Marcus Borg, who is an insatiable fan of character-driven mystery novels, but we’ve rarely returned to the topic. We are aware that mysteries and scary stories in general are very popular with religious men and women. A number of famous religious writers, including C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton, dabbled in both faith and fright.
    Plus, nearly every major religious tradition has horrific stories within its sacred literature.
    So, we invited author James Leach to write a short overview of a Horror-and-Spirituality conference he just attended in Indiana. If you care to add any thoughts on mystery or horror, perhaps to share one of your own favorite titles or authors, please send us an email.

Horror and Spirituality
By James Leach

    Horror writing and spirituality are two topics that don’t seem too far separated to Maurice Broaddus. “I found I was having these very engaged spiritual conversations at horror conventions,” he said.
    Maurice is a professional writer of horror fiction—which among other things means he has a day job as an environmental toxicologist, despite the recent success of his writing career.
    “I thought more people should be able to hear these conversations,” Maurice said, so he organized MoCon, an annual convention that focuses on horror writing and spirituality. The convention is jointly sponsored by Indiana Horror Writers, a group of professional writers, and The Dwelling Place, an Indianapolis church. I caught up with Maurice at MoCon IV this past weekend.
    MoCon is a writer’s convention so there were none of the bizarre costumes and strange goings-on found at fan conventions, nothing more exotic than a couple dozen participants, a book table, a raffle and an art display. Maurice describes MoCon as a family reunion, a chance to have some directed conversations over generous meals of good food.
    After the Friday night poetry reading, the convention got into full swing on Saturday with a panel about writers in relationships with supportive and not-so-supportive partners. Another panel examined the business aspects of writing with contributions from both writers and publishers. The final panel addressed spirituality and the writing life.

    Author Wrath James White began with an eloquent and lucid presentation of an atheist perspective. Maurice followed with comments from a Christian worldview. I had the sense I was listening in on a conversation that that been going on for a long time between two men who knew each other intimately and regarded each other highly.
    In fact, the two men recently collaborated on a novel, The Orgy of Souls (you can purchase a copy at right). Their opening remarks lead into a panel discussion on how spirituality influenced each panelist’s writing. The exchange rambled from faith to religion to the Bible and back to writing. Disagreements were frankly expressed but the tone was animated, not exactly heated. As fitting within a family reunion, this was a family disagreement.

    During the meal that followed, some of the most vocal antagonists sat side by side and continued to chat about the issues raised.
    As I sipped absinthe from a Sponge Bob dixie cup at the after party, I reflected upon the hope MoCon had rekindled for me—the hope that folks with radically differing perspectives can work side by side. A refrain for the weekend had been respect, from the respect that partners should give each other whether one is a writer or not—to the self-respect an author should show when marketing one’s writing—to the respect demonstrated in practice among these professionals who happen to disagree about matters of spirituality, yet don’t close off the discussion or cut off the relationship.
    Thanks to Maurice Broaddus, I felt welcomed into this seemingly unlikely conversation about horror writing and spirituality and I look forward to continuing these discussions at the next family reunion.
    For more information about Maurice Broaddus, including his blog and Twitter feed, click on his photo above. His URL is http://mauricebroaddus.com/ Maurice also writes reviews of popular culture for Hollywood Jesus and his most recent novella, Devil’s Marionette, was just released by Shroud Publishing.

James Frederick Leach tends the website dailynightmare.com. (http://dailynightmare.com)


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