Avenging Monsters

  Nobody who watched the film ALIEN will ever forget the scene that takes place when the astronauts are having dinner: A lizard-like creature comes bursting through a crewman's torso and scurries away. Talk about heartburn! It's one of the scariest films ever made. But the story behind the horror genre is even scarier. In his book, MONSTERS FROM THE ID, Temple University professor E. Michael Jones writes that horror fiction grew out of the sexual decadence of the Enlightenment. Few people embraced that decadence more eagerly than the English poet Percy Shelley. Shelley's first wife killed herself after he abandoned her to live with Mary Godwin. Shelley then victimized his new wife, Mary, even encouraging her to sleep with his friends. As tragedy followed tragedy, a remorseful Mary became disillusioned with radical ideals. But she could not relieve her conscience, Jones writes, because she didn't understand repentance. "Literary catharsis seemed the only way" to purge her soul. Mary thus began writing FRANKENSTEIN -- and gave birth to the horror novel. Jones says the horror story illustrates the fact that the moral order is true, and when we try to suppress it, it comes back in our imagination as an avenging monster. That's certainly true of FRANKENSTEIN. Dr. Frankenstein wants to play God, to create life on his own terms -- just as the Shelleys had created their own sexual ethic. But instead of designing a superb new species, Frankenstein gives life to a murderous monster. The avenging monster from the id, as Jones calls it, took new form during the second phase of the Enlightenment -- a time when syphilis had contaminated European blood. Tragically, adulterous husbands often infected their innocent wives. DRACULA -- a novel about a vampire who infects the blood of innocent girls -- symbolizes this deadly plague. Dracula's author, Bram Stoker, had syphilis himself. As with FRANKENSTEIN, the true story of horror in the author's life -- sexuality divorced from the moral law -- "is repressed and replaced by a monster who points to the [truth.]" A century later, another vengeful monster emerged in the wake of the modern sexual revolution: The creature in the 1979 film, ALIEN. The man chosen to create the monster, H. R. Giger, claims he never procured an abortion for his mistress. And yet, Jones notes, "his art is full of images of abortion and dead babies." In any event, Jones writes, Giger's thwarting of child-bearing, through either contraception or abortion, "is so morally significant that it imbeds itself onto his consciousness." And Giger's conscience sought relief by creating a fetus-monster for ALIEN. At the film's end, a female astronaut kills the monster in a manner that strikingly resembles a suction abortion. The warning of these films is that "sex disconnected from the moral order is horrifying," Jones writes. When we spurn Christian morality, we spawn avenging monsters. This Halloween, your kids may want to rent horror films. Don't let them. Instead, sit them down -- and with the neighbor kids as well -- and instruct them about where horror films really come from. It's a wonderful way to show the cultural lies that underlie the celebration of horror in our society.  


Chuck Colson


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