God and Stephen King – Where do Religion and Horror meet?

I remember when I first read ‘The Stand’; I remember the nightmares in which a tall black figure stalked me across endless rows of corn fields so that I woke shivering in cold sweat. But that is the price you pay for loving Stephen King and the products of his twisted imagination. And I wasn’t female, (still am not, come to think of it), wasn’t a hundred years old (though I feel it some days) but there was something inside of me that wanted to identify with the character of Mother Abigail. Or maybe wanted to identify with her. With her acceptance of what God had given her, for good or for ill, her stoical trust that He was right. Not understanding, just trusting. That was something I found hard, which is why I say I wanted to identify with her.

Still do.

I guess you must have read ‘The Stand’, or be a fan of Mr King (the natural successor to Dickens, if you ask my opinion) or otherwise you wouldn’t still be reading this (hell, wouldn’t have started, am I right?) so you know that the backdrop of the novel is an titanic struggle of good and evil; the death throes of a corrupt civilization and the painful birth pangs of a new one. Pretty immense stuff, huh. But do you know the bit that really sticks out for me?

Go on, guess. Shut your eyes and guess. ‘Cos you won’t be right.

Not the bomb at the end. Not the plague at the beginning. The bit where Mother Abigail walks eight miles there and back to collect some chickens so she can feed her guests. (If you guessed correctly, I apologise. But I’m surprised.)

Against such an apocalyptic backdrop this might seem puny. Silly even. Irrelevant. The whole world’s coming to an end, and she’s concerned with what to have for dinner. But I took two great things from this.

First, sometimes, circumstances are beyond our control and we can only do what is in our power.

Secondly, each action of ours is in some small way a microcosm of that struggle between good and evil. Mother Abigail’s challenge was to fetch those chickens and she accepted it and faced up to it.

Sometimes it’s hard to face up to those challenges. Sometimes we’d rather not, no matter how puny or irrelevant they might seem to others. I’m not going to start even thinking of putting myself in the same league as our old friend S.King, but that is why Mark, the hero of my book, ‘The Bunker’ isn’t quite as brave as Mother Abigail.

Because he’s a lot like the rest of us; he does things he shouldn’t and doesn’t do the things he should. The challenges that sometimes we all don’t face up to on a daily basis. Tragic heroes in the works of Sophocles to Shakespeare have had that fatal flaw in their personality, and often they don’t overcome it. Mark does. Finally. After a great struggle, after he is haunted by guilt and regret. And that is what makes him the hero, in my opinion. Because there is heroism in doing the small things, the things that don’t get noticed by the world, that don’t make the news. There is heroism in the ordinary, humdrum lives of millions of people. The mother with the disabled child. The guy who does the job he hates to feed his family. The people that are busy just getting by, the people that know that love has a price.

You look at the world today and you see the problems; the environmental disasters, Iran building the bomb, the starving thousands and you feel the world needs a hero. But in a way it already has them. The people like Mother Abigail, like Mark, the people who do the tiny, invisible acts of heroism every day. God has given each of us our role to play, and it might not seem like much, it might be puny, but it’s our role and we should accept it. So where religion and horror meet is in us; where good and evil conflict in the world we can decide whether to accept the challenge, or walk on by.

Just a couple of quotes to think about.

Human beings who leave behind them no great achievements, but only a sequence of small kindnesses, have not had wasted lives. Charlotte Grey, b.1937

Our great and glorious masterpiece is to live appropriately. All other things, to rule, to lay up treasure, to build, are at most but little appendices and props. Michel de Montaigne 1533 –1592

To find out how Mark finally defeats his fears and becomes the ‘hero’, please click on the image below to check out my novel, ‘The Bunker’.


Mark only believes in what he sees. He certainly believes in Brendan Douglas who rammed a shot gun in his mouth and told him never to come back to ‘The Hedgerows’.For eighteen years Mark kept his promise. But then he began to see the ghost of a small child who had disappeared all those years ago and Mark then knew he had to find the courage to confront his past.

Reviews on amazon say;

I would firmly agree that this deserves to be compared to Steven King and gives him a good run for his money.

Dark, compelling and beautifully written.

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17 Responses to God and Stephen King – Where do Religion and Horror meet?

  1. Chloe says:

    Makes you think. Thanks for the post Mark, will have a look at your book. Sounds intriguing

  2. Mark, I agree entirely that heroism is more a matter of tackling things one day at a time, as best you can, amassing small victories, perhaps amidst many defeats. Thanks for the thoughtful blog. Regards, Stephen Woodfin

  3. Ken Preston says:

    Stephen King excels at those smaller, everyday moments, the quiet moments of triumph. I think that is part of what makes him such a good writer.

  4. Great post! I love S. King. And The Stand is one of my all-time favorites. It’s been a long time since I read it, so I think I need to have another read. :-) Love the quotes and the message of your post. Your book sounds like something I would enjoy.

    • markbarham says:

      Hi Rhonda, Glad you enjoyed!! Know what you mean, I’ve got a hankering to reread the Stand now! Hope you enjoy my book – please email me to to let me know how you find it. Take care.

  5. dreeli2 says:

    I’m a huge fan of Mr King ! Always exciting when a new book arrives ;)

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  7. 1stBeStrong says:

    I was intrigued by you info above re: your new book. Will it not be published other than for a Kindle or similar? I don’t own one (yet!). I love the feel, smell, etc… of a book in my hands. I haven’t ‘given up the bone yet’ for a kindle. Perhaps, someday I will be forced to in order to read stories that will not be in print. But that will be a truly sad day…. The Day, The Hardcover Book Died. Libraries will turn into…. Coffee shops!?? Book stores all bottom up with Mom & Pop stores turning into Antique stores for the ‘Written Word’. I get sad just thinking about it as the huge book store near us is gone now.
    Best of luck to you and this interesting sounding novel.

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  11. I like your thoughts. There’s a Zen saying you’ve heard, “Chop wood, carry water.” We all have our particular crosses to bear, Mother Abigail new that!!!!! Thanks!!!!

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