God’s Ways Are Higher Than Our Ways, and Stephen King’s IT

In this post, I will theologically muse and ramble, drawing from quotes in Stephen King’s IT.  The theme for this post is God and morality, and God’s ways being higher than our ways.

On page 515, there is the following interaction:

“‘Are you saying this thing isn’t evil?’ Eddie asked Mike abruptly…’That’s it’s just some part of the…the natural order?’

“It’s no part of a natural order we understand or condone,’ Mike said…’and I see no reason to operate on any other basis than the one we do understand: that It kills, kills children, and that’s wrong.  Bill understood that before any of us.  Do you remember, Bill?’

“‘I remember that I wanted to kill It,’ Bill said…’But I didn’t have much of a worldview on the subject, if you see what I mean—I just wanted to kill It because It killed Georgie.'”

On pages 524-525, Bill further elaborates on his desire to kill IT on account of IT having killed his brother, Georgie.  Plus, with age, Bill’s perspective has widened: “Bill thought of Georgie, Georgie who had meant no one any harm, who had only wanted to get out of the house after being cooped up all week, Georgie with his color high, his newspaper boat in one hand, snapping the buckles of his yellow rainslicker with the other, Georgie thanking him…and then bending over and kissing Bill’s fever-heated cheek.  Thanks, Bill.  It’s a neat boat.  He felt the old rage rise in him, but he was older now and his perspective was wider.  It wasn’t just Georgie now.  A horrid slew of names marched through his head: Betty Ripsom, found frozen into the ground, Cheryl Lamonica, fished out of the Kenduskeag, Matthew Clements, torn from his tricycle, Veronica Grogan, nine years old and found in a sewer, Steven Johnson, Lisa Albrecht, all the others, and God only knew how many of the missing.”

What this calls to my mind is how some Christians try to rationalize aspects of the biblical God’s (or their evangelical version of God’s) behavior by saying that God’s ways are higher than our ways, and so we cannot understand or question God.  God instructs Abraham to sacrifice his son?  Abraham had to obey, recognizing that God’s ways are higher than our ways.  God commands the Israelites to slaughter every Canaanite—man, woman, and child?  They had to do so, for God’s ways are higher than our ways.  God will toss into an eternal fire everyone who doesn’t believe in Christ?  That may not appear to us to be all that loving, but tough!  God’s ways are higher than our ways.  Homosexuals cannot have a relationship with someone to whom they’re attracted, even though that means they go through lives of self-loathing and turmoil?  Too bad, some say.  God’s ways are higher than our ways.  Essentially, according to some Christians, we cannot appeal to morality to judge God, for God is above our morality, and God is incomprehensible.

Mike Hanlon appears to be addressing a slightly similar issue when he talks about IT.  According to Mike, even if IT is from a dimension that is beyond our understanding—where perhaps our moral laws do not apply—IT still has to be stopped, for he is having a bad effect on our world.  In short, the supernatural can be judged according to our moral laws, as well as whether its effect is positive or negative.  Bill Denbrough did not have a comprehensive worldview about the supernatural, but he did have a basic sense of right and wrong, which developed with age, and that led him to conclude that IT was wrong.  Mike and Bill perhaps would identify with Immanuel Kant, who proclaimed that Abraham should have followed the moral law by telling God that he would not sacrifice his son, regardless of what God commanded.

And yet, there is a sense in which Stephen King goes on the route of implying that God’s ways are higher than our ways.  On page 449, Mike Hanlon talks about how some force was arranging for his father to return to Derry, even though his father years before had been the victim of racism.  Mike states: “And now I wonder if that blind thing might not have been at work even then, drawing him back so I could take my place in that circle in the Barrens that August evening.  If the wheels of the universe are in true, then good always compensates for evil—but good can be awful as well.”  This reminds me of a line in the TV movie for Stephen King’s Desperation—that God is cruel, and yet the movie also affirms that God is love.  In a sense, God’s ways are above our ways.  Being God’s chosen and beloved is not always like winning the lottery, for it can entail a painful path.  But the path is somehow consistent with good. 

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
This entry was posted in Bible, Religion, Stephen King. Bookmark the permalink.