Exploring Sacred Terror

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Missional Christian, and researcher of new religious movements John Morehead, interviews Douglas Cowan at his TheoFantastique blog. Cowan, who is the author of “Cyberhenge: Modern Pagans on the Internet”, and the forthcoming “More Than Pointy Hats: The Material Culture of Modern Paganism” discusses sacred and religious themes within horror films.

“So many horror films start from the premise of the supernatural that to suggest they have nothing to do with religion is absurd. I remember reading a review of Rupert Wainwright’s Stigmata, for example, in which the reviewer began by commenting on how unusual it is to see religion and horror together. This just means that the person either hasn’t been paying attention, or has far too limited a view of what “religion” is. Of course, much of what I am proposing hinges on the definition of religion that informs the work. I take no theologically normative position, but take instead what I think is the very useful definition offered by William James in the third lecture of Varieties of Religious Experience: “the life of religion…is the belief in an unseen order, and that our supreme good lies in harmoniously adjusting ourselves thereto.” While this definition will obviously not suit a great many people, religious believers in particular, it has certain advantages for the sociologist.”

You can read the entire interview, here. There will be a second part posted next week on the TheoFantastique blog. Cowan will be publishing a book on the subject of religious themes in horror films entitled “Sacred Terror: Religion and Horror on the Silver Screen”, due out next year.