Monday, April 8, 2013

"Dark Hour" Commentary--Part III

Hey, all. Today's the third and final installment in my commentary for Dark Hour. As always, the following is filled with spoilers for Dark Hour, so read no further if you've yet to read the book and want to be surprised.


Still here?

If The Strange Man was my love letter to '80s monster movies like Fright Night and The Monster Squad, and Enemies of the Cross was my turn at The X-Files, then Dark Hour was certainly my ode to Lovecraftian terrors. In essence with Book Three, I wanted to write a full blown monster war. It is the Apocalypse--at least as far as the small town of Greensboro is concerned. We have men turning mad and becoming shambling monstrosities, we have the lake being possessed of sin sludge and turning into this giant pillar of tentacles that lash out at everything. There's a man who becomes a winged gargoyle. Rosalyn, herself, sprouts a cancerous growth that has eyes and teeth and tentacles.

It's some pretty gross, terrible stuff.

And I loved writing every bit of it.

I came to know of horror author H.P. Lovecraft and his Cthulhu Mythos in my early to mid twenties. Perhaps my first exposure to the Cthulhu mythos wasn't Lovecraft at all, but rather John Carpenter's In the Mouth of Madness which was sort of an homage to all things Lovecraftian.

I didn't get this movie at all when I first saw it as a teen. I thought it was weird and didn't make any sort of logical sense, and was just maddening. But, hitting my twenties, I deduced that was the beauty of Lovecraft's work. He writes of Evil older than man, awakening outside the stars, and coming to reclaim the Earth. It's nihilistic, shrouded in mystery and terrible vagueness, with this poetic sense of impending doom. I get a kick out of Lovecraft, despite his dark subject matter. His stories are made up of the very best of ghost stories told around a flashlight or campfire, as there's never any real resolution--just the sense that IT is "out there" and IT is "coming soon".

In Dark Hour, I wanted to essentially write my take on a Lovecraftian tale, but fusing it with Scripture and the sort of Biblical underpinning that The Coming Evil Trilogy was built on. There's madness and tomes of strange unpronounceable words and this promise that some Dark Master is coming to "change" the world of men, turning them into monsters.

Yet, as you read Dark Hour, you will discover it's all the Strange Man's ploy. It's a joke. There IS no uber-monster, no apocalypse--except that which we bring on ourselves. And that's where Dark Hour diverges from Lovecraft. I'm a firm believer that Mankind is a great evil unto itself. In true Lovecraft fashion, the characters in Dark Hour are looking to the stars in dread, fearing what monster is out there--however, they have yet to realize that THEY are the monsters, and they always have been. That's where Christ comes in. To destroy the real monsters, we have to destroy the sin within ourselves, and we can only truly do that by being made new through Christ.

Dark Hour is about a war with monsters, but a war fought without guns or magical swords or talismans. It is fought with faith, hope, and love. Patience and mercy and kindness. It was super important to me that Biblical principles save the day, rather than human might--but let me tell you, that was not easy writing these huge battle sequences where my heroes have no weapons!

In the end, the only thing that can save us from destruction, is simple repentance.

As I understand it, Lovecraft was an atheist. Indeed, his monsters are not demons, as some Christian critics have supposed, but simply alien beings that are above the simple minds of man. What is interesting about Lovecraft's writings is that religion and science, both, break down in the face of such unspeakable creatures. His stories convey a mood of hopelessness, but, in a weird way, I find them incredibly hopeful. Because, as a theist, I believe that nothing is outside of God. And, in my own life, I discover that the more "mundane" a situation is, the more I worry about it. I worry about fixing things that I know I can fix. I stress over bills, over deadlines, over getting to places on time--all things I have some semblance of control over. But it's the big things that bring me to God. I see that I am incapable of fixing something so huge and it sends me running, fully reliant on God.

What could be more huge than the Apocalypse of Great Old Ones returning to Earth? :p So, in a weird way, Lovecraft doesn't tear down my belief in a God who will protect me, but causes me to consider that, should such catastrophes be on the horizon, I can only find solace in God. That was what I wanted to convey in Dark Hour. In the face of The End of All Things, our heroes can't really turn the tide by punching some giant tentacled beast in the eye. The only thing they can control is how they're going to go out: fighting with dignity, with honor, with courage, with love, with hope--and leave the rest up to God.

In the end, I suppose that's all any of us can do.

Thanks for hanging around as I poke at the book a bit. Certainly there's much more to discover in Dark Hour, indeed the entire Coming Evil Trilogy, than I can cover in three simple commentary installments, but I'm anxious for you all to discover them yourselves!

With that, this concludes the commentary for all three books. The Trilogy is finished! I'm still reeling from that revelation as I spent so long working on it. Thank you all for reading and, for those who haven't started yet, all three books are available to your immediate right. Check them out!

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