Wednesday, November 6, 2013

H.P. Lovecraft Goes to Church

Lovecraft was reportedly an atheist—certainly he identified himself as one.  His principle biographer, who is also a devout atheist, never tires of citing instances where Lovecraft disparaged the faith tradition of his family and friends.  And yet readers will note that religious imagery and themes permeate much of Lovecraft’s work.  Perhaps his attitude towards spiritual matters is not so easy to categorize.  It seems more likely that he wrestled often and long with spiritual questions—the ultimate questions we all want answers to.  If indeed Lovecraft was a functional atheist instead of merely a nominal one, one would never guess it from his poetry and fiction.

Lovecraft’s stories that take place near, in or beneath a Christian church:
1.   The Unnamable (1925)
2.   The Festival (1925)
3.   The Horror At Red Hook (1927)
4.   The Haunter of the Dark (1936)
5.   The Shadow Over Innsmouth (1936)
6.   The Evil Clergyman (1939)
7.   St. Toads’ (1943)

Lovecraft’s stories that contain an explicit Christian reference:
1.  Psychopompos: A Tale in Rhyme (1919)—a crucifix wards off wolves.
2.  The Lurking Fear (1923)—the parable of the Prodigal Son used as foreshadowing device.
3.  The Festival (1925)—Christmas and the star of Bethlehem are alluded to.
4.  The Colour Out of Space (1927)—“a thousand points of faint and unhallowed radiance, tipping each bough like the fire of St. Elmo or the flames that come down on the apostles’ heads at Pentecost.”
5.  The Dreams in the Witch-House (1933)—the witch Keziah Mason is overcome with a crucifix; at the end of the story, workers who discover the remains of Brown Jenkin "later burned candles of gratitude in St. Stanislaus' Church..."

Lovecraft’s stories that involve encounters or struggles with ghosts or other spiritual entities:
1.   The Statement of Randolph Carter (1920)
2.   The Tomb (1922)
3.   The Hound (1924)
4.   The Unnamable (1925)
5.   In the Vault (1925)
6.   The Moon-Bog (1926)
7.   The Shunned House (1928)
8.   The Silver Key (1929)
9.   The Strange High House in the Mist (1931)
10. The Other Gods (1933)
11. The Dreams in the Witch House (1933)
12. In a Sequester’d Providence Churchyard Where Once Poe Walk’d (1936)
13. The Case of Charles Dexter Ward (1941)
13. The Transition of Juan Romero (1944)

Lovecraft’s stories that reference a book of unholy Scriptures, incantations and procedures for evoking supernatural entities, (that is, his anti-Bible, the dreaded Necronomican):

Just about everything else he wrote that was noteworthy.  What are the stories in the Cthulhu Mythos about besides subversion and religious idolatry?

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