What Stephen King's "The Shining" Has To Do With Christmas
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What Stephen King's "The Shining" Has To Do With Christmas

Man without God is lost in horror

What Stephen King's "The Shining" Has To Do With Christmas
Warner Bros.

Disclaimer: Before beginning, I need to say that I absolutely do not recommend this movie, that I made an unwise decision to watch it.. It really messed with me, but I did learn something from the experience, and that is what I've written about. Also, this won't make much sense unless you have watched it.


Man without God - that was the idea Stephen King had for starting his novel, "The Shining."

Really. You can look it up.

King watched a group of nuns empty out of a massive hotel where he was staying in Estes Park, Colorado. With time on his hands, he began to think what their departure could represent in a lonely setting. His ponderings on isolation from fellowship and from God culminated in a chilling tale of horror, and so it became one of the most acclaimed horror films of all time.

And it certainly horrified me.

Watching this movie shook me. Its strangeness, insanity, and terror plucked my soul like a bow string.

Demonic forces, ghosts, these will twist me up badly, but there may be nothing more horrible than a mind gone wrong. Also, Tony and his freakish-finger-deal was terrifying.

I 'had' to take a shower shortly after finishing the movie and have never been so scared in my life. The artificial lights of the bathroom brought me back to the axe in the door, to the shriveled woman in the tub, to the blood and the bodies. I felt so wildly alone in my misery and fear. My brain does not handle horror well, to put it lightly. My imagination runs as a wild horse gallops: berserk.

Two minutes in, I was whispering the name of Jesus like my life depended on it (it does) and rushing like heck in order to get out of that fluorescent room and see my family's faces.

When I cried out for help in that bathroom, the horrors perished in His light, "for even the darkness is LIGHT WITH HIM."

Every terror crippling me in the corner of a tub was twisted beautiful into a joyous herald, to remind me of God's comparative mercy and power and how He is a refuge, how His brilliant sun and Son are a thousand times better than a man-made light bulb, how He has made flowers and fields and dance and song and laughter and snowflakes and rainbows.. every good thing.

Moments of beauty flooded back to me as I cringed in misery, whispering "Christ," memories of blowing bubbles into my baby sister's stomach as she giggled with glee and others that were just there for that moment, then vanished in a wink. I wish I could remember them now. There in the emotional terror, the gospel shone with both my new desperation and new joy. As I cried out to God for rescue from my fear, I was given reminders again and again of the gospel, even 'shining' out of the film.

Remember during "The Shining," when a character named Mr. Hallorann worried day and night about Danny, how he drove out into storm and terror to meet an unknown darkness at the isolated hotel, and his love won him an axe in the chest?

To see that good man die to insanity, it made me want to scream.

So what about seeing the best man, the God-man, die in a brutal way?

Mr. Hallorann's sacrifice, which allowed for the escape of Danny and his mom, Wendy, from the possessed Jack, strongly resembled the gospel to my spirit, and it reminded me of how Jesus loved us so much that He walked sinless and knowingly (unlike Mr. Hallorann) into the horror of our depravity and right up to the figurative bent man with the axe to take our place. And He, the sinless King of Kings, stepped in the place of wretched sinner.. to bring us to His home and out of the butcher house.

Jesus Christ willingly and meekly gave HIMSELF to be butchered to save us.

Jesus in all His glory and goodness knocks at the splintered doors of our haunted hearts and asks to come in..

And these reminders of the gospel are the light that began to carry me back into peace and courage. At the same time though, they awoke in me a new horror of sin, a felt need for Jesus.


Fear ravaged me, and fear made me long for hope and help and goodness.

Never have I felt the horror of murder, of the murder of the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, more, than after witnessing the horror of "The Shining."

Never have I longed more for a Savior from wretched sin, never have I realized the base, foul, helplessness of the human condition. We are sick, and we are stuck.

The horror. Separated from God by our sin, we are trapped in a house of horror, of our own doing. We have a mortal illness.

BUT, again it strikes me, BUT

JESUS!! But Christmas!! He DID come into the butcher house, in a way we never expected: in a manger.

After watching this dark movie,

the Messiah now in a manger, now on a cross, now resurrected in a garden, now seated in heaven, never beamed so beautiful, never shone so lovely. My sin, which I have so often clung to, never looked so deathly

and full of horror.

And Jesus Christ loved me back to life with the bloodstains and the axe still in my hands, dead in my condition.

And now, He sees not my sin, but God sees Christ, the perfect Lamb standing over me, taking my place, the horror and the punishment on His shoulders.

There in that bathroom, in fear and helplessness, came great hope, the hope of the light of Christ shining deep into my darkness, as He shines into the sin sickness of this world.

Christmas never looked so beautiful. The baby in the manger never looked so lovely. And now I understand better why the Magi traveled so many miles, why the shepherds leapt down from the hills to kneel at a feed trough, shouting the news to all they saw. A hope beyond hope broke into our bloody story. I am no longer isolated, out in the snow, all alone, perishing in the night. He has come to bring us home, to wash away the stains, to wash us white as snow, so make room!

Stephen King got this one thing right - there is nothing so horrifying as man separated from God. But God doesn't walk away with a group of nuns. God is omnipresent, and Christ has come!

And he didn't get the shining thing right.. the One who shines, that's Jesus, the Bright and Morning Star.



"And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new. . . And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. . . And there is no night there."[1]

Merry Christmas, everybody.

[1] Revelation 21

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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