From Publishers Weekly
This brilliant, twisted, imaginative book explores religion's dark side, from the predictable monsters of sacred texts (Leviathan, Behemoth, Tiamat and Rama's monkeys) to more startling choices from popular culture: one section applies religion's laws of ritual purity and danger to the novel Dracula, for example. Beal sees religion everywhere; Frankenstein, he asserts, is "a profoundly theological horror" about creator-figures playing God, while contemporary teen Goths inhabit "a counterculture infused with a mix of monstrosity and pre-modern Christian religious iconography and architecture." When Beal concludes the book by explaining that "our monsters are ourselves," it comes not as a cultural indictment from a self-satisfied pundit but an astute observation by a witty and wise fellow traveler. (Nov. 15)n
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.Starred
From Library Journal
According to Beal (biblical literature, Case Western Reserve Univ.; The Book of Hiding), "monsters bring on a limit experience that is akin in many respects to religious experience, an experience of being on the edge of certainty." Here he dissects the interface of popular culture and religion, which meet in the personification of evil, that is, monsters. Characters like Tiamat, Leviathan, Dracula, and Oz's Winged Monkeys, as well as horror writers like Lovejoy, Stephen King, and Bram Stoker all fit into Beal's two-pronged approach: religion as horror and horror as religion. He finds that the combination of the Gothic and the theological reveals deep insecurities in our faith in ourselves "the unplumbed abyss of unknowing" inside us. Thus, he argues, these frightening specters of chaos and disorientation within order and security are psychic markers of our endangered sense of self and stability. An informal, chatty style makes this more accessible than academic, although it is well researched. Recommended for religion and popular culture collections. Sandra Collins, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary Lib.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.