Thursday, March 17, 2005

Macabre imagery can be good for you
Both psychologically and spiritually and that goes for kids too, says Steve Greydanus (whom I met in passing when he was just starting out).

The Last Judgement of course is a common theme in Catholic art East and West — scaring the hell out of you before you die. (In the Orthodox tradition the icon of it, fearsome serpent and all, appeared in church on Meatfare Sunday recently as part of the preparation for Great Lent.)

One of the holiest men I’ve met, the Revd Dr Jay Reino, was a university lecturer in literature for many years (before retiring and becoming a priest) who specialized in the genre of horror!

I also slightly know E. Michael Jones, also the debunker of Medjugorje.

Children, especially, demand imaginary adversity in the course of developing the emotional resiliency to handle real-life difficulties and dangers ...Adults, too, crave stories that frighten in part because such stories help us get a handle on real-life fears and anxieties. The simple fact is that we occupy a fallen world, and stories that reflect this reality in imaginatively compelling ways help us with the business of living in it.

In the 1940s, when moral taboos against nonmarital sex were much more taken for granted, one might have a film or book in which the wanton were punished and the chaste rewarded, but it would be a morality-tale or parable, not a horror story. As moral norms shifted, however, what was once regarded as sexual immorality became increasingly associated with horror, as slasher films like John Carpenter’s Halloween, the promiscuous die and the virgins survive. The unacceptability of fornication was no longer an idea that enjoyed common acceptance in society, yet on some level society was not entirely reconciled to the new ethic, and the image in the film expressed with fairy-tale inchoate directness something that was felt to be true but could no longer be straightforwardly affirmed.
This book looks good:

Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Fantasy, Super Heroes and Make-Believe Violence

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