Sunday, August 7, 2011

Some Clive Barker quotations on the topic of religion that I enjoy

From the following site:

"[If marooned on a desert island] I'd take a crate of videos and one book. I'd take the Bible. Because it's this massive, layered, rich, wise, dark, dangerous, ambiguous masterpiece. It seems to me to be a wonderful ragbag of drug dreams and poetry, history, violence and beauty. It's the single most important source of insight and storytelling I've ever encountered. There isn't a collection of videos, however big the crate, which could offer me compensation for that. In my fiction I am critical of the organisational elements of the Church, yes. I have contempt for many of the corruptions of the Church, and I think that when you value the Bible or the Christian message, it's easy to feel contempt for those who judge themselves worthy of carrying that message, whether it be the Swaggarts of this world or the inhumanities of the Vatican and the way its teachings seem to cause universal pain in the name of love. It's difficult to feel benign towards these populist, very often arrogant, self-centred and corrupt individuals who take upon themselves the duty of controlling the message. The distinction I make between the message-carriers and the message itself is very strong. Priests don't come out very well in my books, but the underlying mythologies - the idea of redemption, the idea of having someone to die in order to save, the idea of non- judgmental love and so on - are themes that come up over and over again in my work. But I don't write cynically about the message. I write cynically about the agents. The vocabulary of the fantastique generally is shot through with religious underpinnings of various kinds. You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to realise that, encoded in a lot of fantasy, science fiction and horror are the large problems which once would have vexed theologians. But the anxieties we feel are not addressed from the pulpit any longer. Well, they are addressed from the pulpit, it's just that there's nobody in the pews. So we look elsewhere. The worst thing you can do to children is thrust one particular religious view down their throats. There are only two ways they'll go as a consequence of that: either become indoctrinated and not think for themselves, or respond so negatively to what they've been taught they become perverse and tainted by the guilt that they're turning their backs on this thing, whatever this thing is. Catholicism is obviously the prime villain; you know, the 'once a Catholic' line. I was allowed to think for myself. I'm a believer in the sense that Blake was a believer. I'm a believer in the sense that I take the Bible as something which is available for very private interpretation, and that interpretation may not sit well with conventional interpretations. The material is there for investigation and investigation on an intimate level. Its lessons, its wisdom, its serenity, its good sense, its absurdities and malice - it's very malicious at times - are all part of what makes it remarkable. So I suppose my reading of it means I've ended up as a strange kind of believer."

"Actually the older I get, the more attractive the idea of a Sunday ritual like that becomes. And I'm serious about that. I actually wish I had more belief in the Church. There's a wonderful book by John Betjeman, who did Summoned by Bells. The first poem is about Sunday morning in England, expressing a kind of passion for a very English, and very safe vision of the world. Summoned by Bells expresses the passion for getting up on a Sunday morning and being summoned by that most reassuring of sounds to go and worship. I have a little portion of my perverse soul that has found that profoundly attractive. Doug Winter and I have spoken a lot on this and it has been almost a theme of this convention, a sort of middle-age. I was talking also to Doug Bradley about it and one of the things that I think has happened as I get older, some of the images that I found kind of repulsive as a child or a young man are coming back to me with a fresh power to seduce me. Out of England, where I haven't been in two years, those images come with particular power because I haven't been there for awhile. In Los Angeles if someone were to burn leaves, which is very unusual because it just doesn't happen, if you were to smell that sort of bitter sweet smell of burning dry vegetation I am suddenly a child again in that time of autumn and I feel a sense of longing for that again. When I was a kid, Sunday morning was a very religious time. The sound of church bells on Sunday was always very reassuring. The fact that I only ever went to church a few times in my childhood, and one of them was for a baptism of which I didn't have any choice, it doesn't mean that there wasn't an incredible power with the association. I know that even the Christmas carols and the hymns that I sang as a child, when I think about the very repugnant sentiment of them, had an extraordinary power to move me. It's an association with a feeling of childhood and feelings of security. As I get older I feel them falling away from me. I feel less and less certain of the world and I think I go back to the things that I did feel certain about as a child. Curiously some of the things are things that I believe if I had actually answered the Summons of the Bells and sat and listened to the sermons, I wouldn't be sitting here rhapsodizing about it because I would be bored witless by the experience. But the fact is that I didn't answer. So the answer is; give me another five years and I probably wouldn't be here, I would be at Mass or maybe even serving it, who knows...?"