In my review of Steven King’s On Writing, I had discussed the personal importance of The Shining as a coming-of-age novel, a real turning point for me as a reader and as a person. Likely few in the world have as much an emotional tie to this horror story as I, but then again, we’re all unique.
While working my seventeenth summer at a VHS rental store, I watched Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, based off King’s book, and was blown away by the subtle horror of it all. As a sheltered kid, that was one of my more eye-opening experiences of youth. Even more so, however, was when I picked up this novel shortly thereafter. I had never been a heavy reader like my parents had been (and still are), so the thought of reading an entire novel had never once appealed to me. The Shining, however, was worth a shot, I thought, if only to see whether or not movies really do run away from their namesake books. Very quickly, this book become my “entry drug” into the wonderful world of reading-for-pleasure. I finished this book in just 4 days—virtually the speed of light, in my mind. What shocked me most about this first experience was this: “I watched the movie for about 2 hours and loved it. But I just lived through that same ‘movie’ for the past 4 days, and ‘love’ can’t even begin to describe how much I enjoyed that!” And my passion for reading-for-pleasure has never since abated.
Granted, Steven King is not for the innocent. He uses fowl language and he describes things that really should be left unsaid. But even for me as a Christian writer, these negatives have worked out as positives in my own professional maturity, for while several graphic images from the book still stick out in my mind many years after, they provide for me a standard for what “gratuitous sex” or “gratuitous violence” looks like. Some lessons of “what not to do” simply need to be learned the hard way.
This isn’t necessarily a book I would recommend to others, specifically Christian teens, but my experience can hopefully shed some light on how even the bad can be used for good. If you are helping instill into your children a strong sense of discernment and Christ-honoring life-decisions, then you might also consider allowing them to broaden their cultural scope a bit. This would not be so they can feed their carnality, but so you can together discuss how such discernment can be implemented in real-life, culture-clashing ways, both for the honing of their skills and ultimately for the glory of God.