In the early 90s, when I had been writing short stories for about three years and poetry for over a decade, a dear friend and brother of mine looked me dead in the eye one day and said, “As time goes on, your writing will be hated by both Christians and unbelievers alike. It will be considered too Christian for the world and too worldly for most Christians.”
This was only confirmation of something I already felt was true and would continue to be true in my life—and his words were in a way prophetic. I have had many stories and some poetry accepted by publications the world over, but more has been rejected for either being too Christian or not Christian enough. A few years back I shouted with victory, though, when a witchcraft magazine published a story that was Christ-centered because they hadn’t read it closely enough!
I gave my life to Jesus at seven years old, and was baptized at age nine. At fourteen I began to write, at twenty-seven I wrote my first short story, and I have made writing my life’s focus ever since. Strong literary influences for me are the Christian-themed writers Charles Dickens, J.S. Le Fanu, Arthur Machen, Bram Stoker, Flannery O’Connor, W.B. Yeats, and William Blake. Other writers deeply influencing my work are Sylvia Plath, Hemingway, Shirley Jackson, Raymond Chandler, and Poe. For me, writing is communicating eternity to those who may not understand eternity as Jesus reveals it to us and transforms us to experience it—and also communicating other things which have to do with the fallen nature of humanity and, in some cases, the hellish environs we either find ourselves in or make for ourselves. I use Horror, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Quirk to get my perceptions and perspectives across to my readers.
I want to add that even though I gave my life to Jesus at such a young age—and did have a deeply memorable mystical experience when I was baptized by my Southern Baptist pastor, and another milestone experience when I took Holy Communion by myself in that same Baptist church at age 20—I found that the Christianity with which I was being fed (Baptist, Pentecostal, and Charismatic) for some reason didn’t fulfill me. So after first considering the Catholicism of St. Francis, but feeling strange about the Roman focus on Mary’s divinity, I decided upon converting to Greek Orthodoxy in 1987, and then in 1992 to Hinduism (complete with a pilgrimage to India). But none of these paths did anything to change my angry, spiteful, drunkard, womanizing, argumentative, spiritually and socially arrogant, and often physically violent personality that of course I blamed solely on my parents, instead of accepting the truth that I was born sinful and in need of salvation.
In 2013, I was to discover that though I had studied the Bible from 1970 to 1988 (when I decided that I had studied it enough), I had been reading it wearing “Baptist Glasses”—a mixture of the false teachings of Darbyism and Baptist ‘cherry picking’ the good stuff while leaving the freaky stuff alone (as if it doesn’t actually exist in the Bible)—and not for what it actually says. So I began re-reading, and to date I still find surprising and sometimes even shocking revelations. Previous to 2013, I will add, I was a student of the false teacher Carlos Castaneda, having put great stock in his every published word since I began to study his intoxicating books in 1993—during which time I also read tarot cards and did some candle magic—all the while still believing that, on some level, I still loved Jesus.
I realize today that I was only looking for a truly powerful spiritual path—and one which I could retrofit Jesus into. But we follow him; he never follows us.
Scáth Beorh is a writer and editor who helms Twelve House Books, a publishing endeavor with a year-round open call for quirky or uncanny story collections and novellas, and poetry of any flavor. See twelvehousebooks.wordpress.com for more info.