While still relatively unknown to the general public, early twentieth century American horror author H.P. Lovecraft left an indelible stamp upon popular culture. Images of tentacled horrors, forbidden tomes, and protagonists struggling against the insanity that comes with the revelation of the terrible truth of reality–Lovecraft pioneered all of these. Best known for his short story “The Call of Cthulhu,” Lovecraft instantiated his philosophy of cosmicism into every one of his tales.
This collection of fourteen essays is the first sustained academic engagement with horror author H.P. Lovecraft from a theological perspective. Covering the major themes of Lovecraft's work such as nihilism, xenophobia, dark cults, and unimaginable horrors beyond the stars, the book is divided into five sections corresponding to each of the divisions of theology: biblical, historical, systematic, practical, and comparative. With responses ranging from admiration to critique, the contributors explore the dark uncharted regions of Lovecraft’s dark mythology in the service of theological truth.
Austin M. Freeman (PhD, systematic theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) specializes in the theology of fantasy literature, especially that of J.R.R. Tolkien.
Introduction: The Stars Are Right
Austin M. Freeman
Part I: Lovecraft and Biblical Theology
1. Biblical Cosmicism? Religion and Cosmic Insignificance in Old Testament Wisdom Literature and H. P. Lovecraft
2. Dagon and Idolatry: Lovecraft’s Use of the Bible in “Dagon” and “The Shadow over Innsmouth”
Alexander P. Thompson
3. Concerning the Hidden God Who Surpasses All Understanding: Lovecraftian Meditations on Christian Theodicy
David K. Goodin
Part II: Lovecraft and Historical Theology
4. “A Dark Poem”: Lovecraft’s Puritan Aesthetics and the Vice of Curiosity
5. August Derleth and the Christianization of the Cthulhu Mythos
6. The Lurker at the Threshold of Interpretation: August Derleth and the Debate over Lovecraftian Dualism
Part III: Lovecraft and Systematic Theology
7. When God Goes Mad: Lovecraft, Von Balthasar, and the Split between Transcendence and Goodness
Lyle Enright and Nick Bennett
8. One God Further: Lovecraft and the Critique of Ontotheology
Ryan G. Duns
9. Mythos and Mythopoeia: Lovecraft and Tolkien on the Transcendent Function of Fantasy
Part IV: Lovecraft and Pastoral Theology
10. Haunted Steeples and Horrible Peoples: Church and Cult in Lovecraft
11. Lovecraft’s Gods: Cosmic Anxiety and Racist Hatred
12. Sudden Onset Belief: The Brutality of Conversion in Lovecraft’s Stories
Robert Grant Price
Part V: Lovecraft and Other Religions
13. Lovecraft the Pagan?: Lovecraft and Classical Religion
14. Prophet of the Mythos: H.P. Lovecraft, Muḥammad, and Arabic Scriptures
Andrew J. O’Connor
In his introduction, Austin Freeman asks an important question, "Why does Lovecraft fascinate people of faith?" This fine collection of essays ably answers this question, showing the variety of theological questions one can explore in conversation with one of America's greatest horror writers. This volume is a valuable contribution to the literature of theological aesthetics, but also to Lovecraft studies. Highly recommended.