As one may have noticed who has read any of my stories, they often (possibly always) involve something of darkness in them. This is indeed part of my life’s focus, near to heart, and part of the fundamental aim of OOM.
It recently occurred to me that dark things can fall into three categories:
These are things that are not even necessarily negative, parts of God’s original “very good” creation. These are things like (of course) darkness itself, fire, chewing food, dung, ugly and strange creatures like toads and spiders and deep sea creatures.
It would also include created things that come after the fall, like hunting and eating meat.
These are things that are good because they are the destruction of what is evil, like the gory slaying of monsters and villains, or monsters that slay or frighten away evil things. The darkness of these things is good, often more intensely good than good things that are pleasant and fun.
These are things that are evil, and meant to be hated, or things that are calamitous and tragic. The previous categories can be rejoiced in, in their strangeness and ghastliness. The third category is meant to be grieved in, and the grief and pain and anguish in these things can be rejoiced in: it is good to feel bad about bad things. Related is the term “villains you love to hate”.
There are always two sides: to love good is to also hate evil. Hating evil is dark, and it is good. Lament is dark, and it is good. Just as it is good to focus on pleasant things for which we thank God, it is good to focus on unpleasant things, and to lament over them (“Jesus wept”), and it is good to focus on evil things, setting our hearts against them (“The fear of Yahweh is to hate evil”). Technically, I suppose, the grief and anger and disgust at this third category falls into the second category.
The Bible is full of all sorts of darkness out of all three of these categories. Notwithstanding, there has come about a general feeling of setting all dark things aside, which I believe comes from mystics and positivity speakers and monastic schools of thought, none of which comes from the Bible of course.
Dark things make up pretty much the largest, and in a sense the most prominent, part of the strange things the fellowship of OOM deals in. They are the unusual, disturbing, injected into the commonplace, the point of breaking; whether the blood of the innocent or guilty is shed, whether it is a triumph or a crime, it is a singular thing.
When people condemn dark things it is confusing to address because it is incorrect in various ways. Not only are dark things part of a perfect world, but are a good part of an imperfect world, and what is not a good part is also good to think and talk about as a not good part.
God tells us to “weep with them that weep”. It is good to feel compassionate grief, or fear, or anger. And, as we know, there is much, very much, to be learned in grief which cannot be learned any other way. For these and other reasons there is much need and good in the depiction and the imagining of dark things: it is difficult, and should not be borne incessantly, just as one must sleep at night. But it is not to be avoided simply for the sake of avoiding it, and it is natural and right to seek it out.
“Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.” – Ecc. 7
As well as the goodness of dark feeling, there is also simply being fascinated by black and skeletons and spiny, blood-sucking creatures of the night. This comes mainly in the first category perhaps; but I also don’t want to take away the fun by examining further at the moment (someday I need to do a post or something about C. S. Lewis’ metaphor of the beam of light in the shed).