I just blazed through William Blatty's The Exorcist, and it pretty much blew my mind into a million pieces. I've never seen the film and though I knew the general idea, the book was very nearly a masterpiece.
It also got me thinking: demon possession is real (and so are
exorcisms, though I don't necessarily believe in the ritualized Catholic
version - a simple "I cast you out in the name of God!" was good enough
for Jesus' disciples). Anyway, the terrifying behavior that Blatty
describes is also real (The Exorcist is purportedly based on
true events), and I applaud Blatty for telling a nuanced story of
skepticism, faith, doubt, psychiatry, trauma, and impossible phenomena,
rather than just a spooky battle of wills and crucifixes. I wouldn't
label The Exorcist as a Christian book; in my mind, it drew similar parallels to Bram Stoker's Dracula, in
that resolute faith in God's power and recognition of man's
unworthiness are essential to defeating the devil and his lies, though
distinct Christian doctrine is left out.
But what if a Christian author penned an explicitly Christian book,
but included all of the withering obscenities and graphic vulgarity that
Blatty uses? Not just to shock and horrify, but to ground their story
in reality? In my recent books, Satanism is a major
themes and I allude to perversions and rituals, but it's mostly done for
melodrama and atmosphere. But what if a Christian author took that bold
step and blended the obscene with the holy (and wrote an awesome story
too)? What would be people's reactions? I am sure there are plenty of
"true" accounts of things like this, but what would happen if the author
wrote a story that was pure fiction, yet chose to include graphically
Conservative Christians and churches would probably decry it
outright, and perhaps within reason. Just because something is
compelling and real doesn't mean it needs to be dwelt upon. But stuff
like this isn't just the product of demented authors looking for twisted
ways to goose the audience; it's documented and real in some form or
another. I just wonder how the Christian market would respond.
I guess there's only one way to find out...