May 29, 2013

"But, at the same time, there's a lot of things in life where you say to yourself, 'Well, if this is God's plan, it's very peculiar'..."

"... and you have to wonder about that guy's personality — the big guy's personality. And the thing is — I may have told you last time that I believe in God — what I'm saying now is I choose to believe in God, but I have serious doubts and I refuse to be pinned down to something that I said 10 or 12 years ago. I'm totally inconsistent."

Stephen King, elaborating on his choice to believe in God.

47 comments:

Jay said...

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD

-Isaiah 55:8

Not at all complicated, Mr. King.

Mitchell the Bat said...

I seriously doubt that Mr. King has what it takes to be a halfway decent law professor.

Scott M said...

That's simply not true. He's consistently bad at ending a novel. He's admitted as such many times.

Jeff Teal said...

King is another of those who say they believe in God -then judge Him.Ant.

rhhardin said...

Catch-22, Yossarian argues with an atheist

“There's nothing mysterious about it, [God]'s not working at all. He's playing. Or else He's forgotten all about us. That's the kind of God you people talk about, a country bumpkin, a clumsy, bungling, brainless, conceited, uncouth hayseed. Good God, how much reverence can you have for a Supreme Being who finds it necessary to include such phenomena as phlegm and tooth decay in His divine system of Creation? What in the world was running through that warped, evil, scatological mind of His when He robbed old people of the power to control their bowel movements? Why in the world did He ever create pain?”

...

[S]he sobbed, bursting violently into tears. “But the God I don’t believe in is a good God, a just God, a merciful God. He’s not the mean and stupid God you make Him out to be.”

ricpic said...

Stephen King is right to have his doubts about the Big Guy. The next step is to argue with the Big Guy. Only then is King or anyone worthy of the appellation Man.

m stone said...

I like the tag "lightweight religion." Fits a lot of people's penchant.

edutcher said...

This is the guy who says he gets his stories from a little TV inside his head.

Robert Cook said...

I am an atheist, but I don't find it hard at all to imagine a creator God whose works would be inscrutable to us. In fact, I would be startled if they were not.

A child perceives his experiences from his own limited and undeveloped and therefore distorted and uncomprehending perspective; similarly, humankind, in a hypothetical creation generated by a god, could only have at least as stunted a perspective on our own existence.

Henry said...

The world is very wonderful with no God to bedevil it.

Lyssa said...

Interesting. I understand why the professor tagged this "lightweight religion", but, on the other hand, I can see how years of deep thought would still bring one to the conclusion King expresses here. By comparison, one who has simply been brought up Baptist (or whatever) and continues to be so through life could easily be just as lightweight.

I also agree with Robert Cook (never fail to get a kick out of saying that) - not about the being an atheist part, but the child's perspective metaphor.

ken in sc said...

I quit reading King several years ago because he made all of his Christian characters nut cases—remember the mother in Carrie. If he has changed lately, I am not aware of it. The God he believes in is probably Brahman. He uses a lot of Hindu images and sex magic.

Strelnikov said...

To quote Amy Farrah-Fowler, "While I have no problem with the existence of a supreme being, I do question the idea of one who takes attendance."

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

ken in sc,

I just finally got around to reading his Needful Things, which is something like 20+ years old now. One of the better books of his I know, though I haven't read anything at all written after that.

I love the premise: A newcomer opens a shop in a small Maine town, the wares apparently completely random, but literally with something for everyone -- and, at that, something each customer can't bear not to have. The monetary prices are absurdly low, but the purchaser has also to play a "little, harmless prank" on someone. The way it works is this: Suppose A and B have some minor feud going on. C and D each buy something at Needful Things. C then does something nasty to A in such a way as to suggest that B did it; D does something nasty to B in such a way as to suggest that A did it. Do that a dozen or so times with different originally minor feuds, and (as you can imagine) the body count is pretty extravagant.

Anyway, to your point about King and Christians: One of the feuds is between the town's Baptists and its Catholics. There's always been enmity, but it's already flared up when the book opens by the Catholics' planning a fundraiser called "Casino Nite." The Baptists are not amused. Near the end of the book, the two congregations are literally trying to gouge each others' eyes out, but at the end of the book, just after another couple of Needful Things customers have blown the town hall sky-high with dynamite, the Catholic priest is helping the Baptist minister to his feet.

TMink said...

I have enjoyed many of his books. I am OK with his making some of his Christian characters nut jobs because I am a Christian, I got to church with Christians, a lot of my friends are Christians, and some of us ARE nut jobs.

All I need Mr. King to do is to write good books. I hope he continues.

Trey

Kensington said...

I was a little surprised, upon rereading "The Stand" a few years ago, to discover that the elderly religious woman, Mother Abigail, who I remembered as one of King's more positive Christian characters when I first read the book in 1980 or so, wasn't nearly as positive as I remembered. In fact, King all but depicts her as another raving nutjob more akin to Carrie's mother than Mother Theresa.

TMink said...

Wasn't Kung Fu developed by Buddhists? At least in the TV show it was. 8)

Trey

Broomhandle said...

"A child perceives his experiences from his own limited and undeveloped and therefore distorted and uncomprehending perspective; similarly, humankind, in a hypothetical creation generated by a god, could only have at least as stunted a perspective on our own existence."

Exactly. That's why it's called faith.

Baron Zemo said...

Robert Cook hits it on the head.

Mitchell the Bat said...

I always assumed that Stephen King was the literary equivalent of Thomas Kinkade.

Probably because I heard of them through the same media channels.

Rusty said...

Mitchell the Bat said...
I always assumed that Stephen King was the literary equivalent of Thomas Kinkade.

Probably because I heard of them through the same media channels.

That's pretty much it.
Ripping yarns. Some of em scary.

I could care less what Steven King does or does not believe.

Carl said...

That's not lightweight religion, that's the best possible kind, which includes:

(1) A sufficient awareness of the world to realize that some of it suggests there is a Plan; and yet

(2) Some of the world suggests also there is not a Plan, or if there is, it's being mucked up, or is inherently cynical, the Dark Side has taken over, whatever; but

(3) No divine Plan could possibly be fully comprehensible to human beings anyway, in just the way and for the same reason horses cannot comprehend the reason for and full implications of the Constitution, which nevertheless governs their lives among humans; and so

(4) To believe or not is an act of faith -- it cannot be arrived at through reasoning alone (nor, I think, rejected through reasoning alone, inasmuch as reasoning is a priori a flawed instrument operating on insufficient data); but also

(5) To entertain doubt routinely, and wrestle with it, so that your faith is continually challenged, honed, renewed (or not) is an act of the deepest human religiousity. Faith is not faith if it does not, and will not, entertain serious challenge.

You know, when a n00b 1L looks at some way the law has operated for centuries and says gee that's so dumb, why don't we...? I would guess the law professor recommends that he studies up just a bit more before assuming he's the first person in centuries to notice some obvious and easily correctable inanity. Perhaps that idea applies in other areas of human thought and imagination? Perhaps religion has been constructed by people who were just as smart and insightful as those who constructed the law?

Oso Negro said...

Stephen King is just keeping it real. A modest reading of the Pentateuch reveals Yahweh as a character with some serious issues.

traditionalguy said...

King is a writer of some skill. But his works are not nearly as popular as God's writings.

The war of the writers is sometimes a war between the lesser writers who act as censors of of God's writings by locking them up in ancient Latin or Elizabethan English deemed inreadable.

The experience of the Luther doing a German translation of the Pope's official Latin translation of God's imprisioned writings was the start of the modern western world.

Slandering the better author is a poor argument anyway.

Broomhandle said...

King is a storyteller of some skill. But he is a truly shitty
writer.

Rusty said...

A modest reading of the Pentateuch reveals Yahweh as a character with some serious issues.

5/29/13, 12:21 PM


Hence the new revelation.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Kensington, Re: The Stand, it's been a couple of decades since I read that, but I too remember Mother Abigail as a very positive character, certainly no "raving nutjob." I know that King issued a revised (and significantly longer) version of the book after the initial publication. Are you sure you weren't reading the second one while remembering the first? (I never read the second, so I don't know if the character is significantly different; it's just a possible explanation that occurred to me.)

harrogate said...

"I quit reading King several years ago because he made all of his Christian characters nut cases"

Absolutely false.


"remember the mother in Carrie"

Yes, a very memorable character indeed. But not King's Word on Christians. He's got a lot of characters.

harrogate said...

"In fact, King all but depicts her as another raving nutjob more akin to Carrie's mother than Mother Theresa."

You might be raving too if a virus knocked out almost everyone in the country. Still, she's a force for good in the novel. Very unlike Carrie's mother.

Thorley Winston said...

Mother Abigail from “The Stand” didn’t strike me as a nut case. She was very devout and wise but that’s kind of a trope among the entertainment industry that elderly black folk are allowed to be religious and wise but for all other Christians, not so much. ;)


But if you do like modern fantasy that doesn’t insult your intelligence when it comes to the treatment of religion (or much else), I’d highly recommend Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. The characters overall all are multi-dimensional.

Bender said...

"Faith is always a path. As long as we live we are on the way, and on that account faith is always under pressure and under threat. . . . If one is trying to share the faith with others in the spiritual situation of our century . . . then one must take particular care to be open oneself to the questions that make faith hard."
--Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, "God and the World"

Smilin' Jack said...

...what I'm saying now is I choose to believe in God

Saying you "choose" to believe in something is another way of saying you don't believe in it.

Robert Cook said...

"Saying you 'choose' to believe in something is another way of saying you don't believe in it."

Not at all; virtually all of our beliefs are volitional. A rational person's beliefs can change as he or she acquires new information. This does not invalidate one's beliefs, which must always be considered provisional.

Oso Negro said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Oso Negro said...

Rusty, sorry, but the "new revelation" Yahweh isn't winning any prizes for emotional development either, witness the continuation of His perverse obsession with the sacrifice of sons, whether His own or someone else's. Sorry, I just can't sail on that boat. And speaking in parables? Really? Just to jack with millenia of semi-literate followers? Unnecessary deity extravagance. No sense to it. None whatever.

Alex said...

Exactly. That's why it's called faith.

Ah faith. That crutch for the mentally deficient among us.

Alex said...

This does not invalidate one's beliefs, which must always be considered provisional.

Not according to Christians. Their belief in Jesus=God is inviolable.

wyo sis said...

"Perhaps religion has been constructed by people who were just as smart and insightful as those who constructed the law?"

Perhaps the same person constructed both of those things in absolute terms and He's not just a person but a Supreme Being. That is if we're talking about those things as eternal truths, not the interpretations of humans with limited perspectives.
In which case Alex's kind of thinking looks a little like a cockroach's perspective. But, then he thinks people of faith are stunted so there's that.

Rusty said...

Oso Negro said...
Rusty, sorry, but the "new revelation" Yahweh isn't winning any prizes for emotional development either, witness the continuation of His perverse obsession with the sacrifice of sons, whether His own or someone else's. Sorry, I just can't sail on that boat. And speaking in parables? Really? Just to jack with millenia of semi-literate followers? Unnecessary deity extravagance. No sense to it. None whatever.

Take it up with god. I didn't write the rules.

Robert Cook said...

"Not according to Christians. Their belief in Jesus=God is inviolable."

Even many Christians' doctrinal beliefs have been altered over time by the acquisition of new knowledge about the world and the universe.

Robert Cook said...

On the other hand, religious belief is not rational.

Andy Krause said...

"On the other hand, religious belief is not rational."

Neither is quantum physics

Rusty said...

Robert Cook said...
On the other hand, religious belief is not rational.

neither is socialism.

Michael Haz said...

Steven King is just trying to cover both sides of the bet, in case.

phx said...

"... what I'm saying now is I choose to believe in God,"

Choosing your beliefs is highly responsible.

The distinction between what you choose to believe and what is supposedly "true" is very, very interesting.

Palladian said...

While developing his masterpiece film rendition of King's The Shining, Stanley Kubrick reportedly telephoned King in the middle of the night (for King, as Kubrick was in England) and asked him "Do you believe in God?".

Rick67 said...

Exactly. That's why it's called faith.

I often teach my students that words don't have meanings (as much as) they have uses. Many people - religious or not, Christian or not - seem to use the word "faith" like this. Basically "I choose to believe in something even though I don't completely understand it and/or can't prove it". A decision to believe - although at this point we need to ask "what do we mean by believe (in)?" Of course the New Testament book of James chimes in at this point.

I'm not criticizing this use of "faith", but I do suggest (1) we need to stop and think carefully about how are we using it? and (2) is that how we want to use it?

A few months ago was preparing a homily and came across a scholar who suggested we translate/interpret Greek pisteo/pistis more along the lines of "trust oneself to someone". In Orthodox Christian liturgy many prayers end "entrusting one another and all our life unto thee O Christ our God". So faith has more to do with radical trust (God is good and loves us - even though I don't completely understand the messy and mysterious ways he works(?) in the world).

There is also an epistemological issue here (the faith-as-assent-without-complete-evidence use assumes we do not know God directly - and that might be the tragic failure of modernism) but will save that later.