Vampies, zombies, and sacred horror

"The Vampire' by Edvard Munch, 1893-94 [Public Domain in United States], via Wikipedia

“The Vampire’ by Edvard Munch, 1893-94 [Public Domain in United States], via Wikipedia

Here’s a fairly awesome audio feast spiritual about the deep connection between religion and supernatural horror:

Sacred Horror: Zombie Resurrections and Vampire Souls

It’s an hour-long episode of the radio program Encounter that was broadcast just three days ago by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). Encounter “invites listeners to explore the connections between religion and life — intellectually, emotionally and intuitively — across a broad spectrum of topics.” Here’s the official description of this particular episode:

From the legends of Frankenstein and Dracula to films about zombies, witches and vampires, supernatural horror has always captured the popular imagination. Fictional horror scares us because it confronts us with our deepest fears about death and the unknown. It make us tremble, but it also acts as a catharsis. So it’s no wonder then that the horror genre often intersects with religion.

Guests include:

  • Jana Riess, author of What Would Buffy Do: The Vampire Slayer as Spiritual Guide
  • Douglas E. Cowan, Professor of Religious Studies, Renison University College, University of Waterloo, Canada
  • John Morehead, co-editor of The Undead and Theology and creator of website TheoFantastique
  • Mike Duran, Christian novelist, California
  • Ashley Moyse, Research Affiliate, Vancouver School of Theology, Canada
  • Philip Johnson, Theologian

I simply can’t say enough good things about this presentation, which delves with unexpected depth into various important aspects of the relationship between religion and horror, including Rudolf Otto’s formulation of the seminal concepts of the numinous, daemonic dread, and the simultaneous attractive and repulsive power of the mysterium tremendum. The list of interviewees is particularly excellent. You’ll recall that John Morehead is a long-time Teeming Brain friend who was one of the panel participants on our podcast about Lovecraft, Machen, and the possible spiritual/philosophical divide between cosmic horror and sacred terror. (Interestingly, the exact same subject, minus any mention of Machen, is broached on this Encounter episode.) And Mike Duran and I have interacted on the issue of religion, horror, and apocalypse in the past.

Do yourself a favor and set aside an hour to listen with full attention. You won’t regret it.

About Matt Cardin

Teeming Brain founder and editor Matt Cardin is the author of DARK AWAKENINGS, DIVINATIONS OF THE DEEP, A COURSE IN DEMONIC CREATIVITY: A WRITER'S GUIDE TO THE INNER GENIUS, and the forthcoming TO ROUSE LEVIATHAN. He is also the editor of BORN TO FEAR: INTERVIEWS WITH THOMAS LIGOTTI and the academic encyclopedias MUMMIES AROUND THE WORLD, GHOSTS, SPIRITS, AND PSYCHICS: THE PARANORMAL FROM ALCHEMY TO ZOMBIES, and HORROR LITERATURE THROUGH HISTORY.

Posted on July 23, 2013, in Arts & Entertainment, Religion & Philosophy and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I’ve written a little before about vampiric gods in tantrism that David Gordon White explores in his book titled Sinister Yogis. Yogis believed that to be liberated means to be preyed upon and opened. To be preyed on, ritually yoked, means to transcend the self. Korean shamanism is also like this in the sense that they offer their ‘ki’ to the war gods. Even Korean Christians interpret the Holy Spirit as ‘ki’ as well. I am currently reading War And Shadows: The Haunting Of Vietnam by Mai Len Gustaffson and this idea of hungry ghosts and the war dead missing in action without proper burial becoming ghouls feeding for their spiritual nourishment upon their close kin from lack of worship, causing nightmares and self mutilation, this idea is a cultural episteme within asia.

  2. Many thanks for your thoughts on the radio program, Sacred Horror. I’m the producer. I thoroughly enjoyed making it, as it gave me the chance to “research” lots of movies/TV shows in the horror genre. Your blog is an excellent source of information on the intersection between religion/spirituality and popular culture. I hope your fans like the radio program too.
    masako

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