I’ve been a Stephen King fan since Junior High. The first book of his I read was The Stand, which still “stands” as one of my favorite books to this day. In fact, that book (combined with overall favorite My Side of the Mountain) fostered a unique adoration for tales of dystopian survival. (It’s a miracle I’m not a doomsday prepper today.)
I was pleasantly surprised to see an article about King’s faith in Christianity Today. The more I read of King’s experiences and views of religion, the more enamored I find myself with them.
The Stand, which many consider King’s magnum opus (David Foster Wallace once listed it as his second favorite book of all time, just behind The Screwtape Letters), borders in places on Christian allegory, not just in its post-apocalyptic standoff between good and evil, but also in the way that conflict is resolved. The film adaptation of The Green Mile has featured in too many youth group talks to count, the central character being the closest King has ever come to a bona fide Christ figure (John Coffey—get it?). And then there’s Shawshank Redemption, a film based on one of his stories that almost boasts a religion of its own at this point, having held the top spot on the user-generated top 250 films ranking on IMDb since 2008.
Of course, an aversion to organized religion does not imply an aversion to grace. The heroes in King’s books are nearly always broken people: physically frail, alcoholic, disabled, marginalized, and lonely, who against all odds carry the day. In It, the motley group of kids who do battle with the forces of darkness dub themselves The Losers Club. Even his villains are regularly rendered with compassion. And what to make of the fact that good nearly always triumphs, often through some sudden, unpredictable reversal of fortune?