Tag Archives: addiction

Choosing to Believe (Stephen King)

I recently read an interview with Stephen King by Rolling Stone that answers a question I had:  whether he believes in God.

To begin with, he explains his take on religion in regards to his new book Revival:

Stephen King caricature found on tomrichmond.com
Stephen King caricature found on tomrichmond.com

“My view is that organized religion is a very dangerous tool that’s been misused by a lot of people. I grew up in a Methodist church, and we went to services every Sunday and to Bible school in the summer. We didn’t have a choice. We just did it. So all that stuff about childhood religion in Revival is basically autobiographical. But as a kid, I had doubts. When I went to Methodist youth fellowship, we were taught that the Catholics were all going to go to hell because they worship idols. So right there, I’m saying to myself, “Catholics are going to go to hell, but my aunt Molly married a Catholic and she converted and she’s got 11 kids and they’re all pretty nice and one of them’s my good friend – they’re all going to go to hell?” I’m thinking to myself, “This is bullshit.” And if that’s bullshit, how much of the rest of it is bullshit?”

And then they get down to the nitty gritty:

“Yeah. I choose to believe in God because it makes things better. You have a meditation point, a source of strength. I don’t ask myself, “Well, does God exist or does God not exist?” I choose to believe that God exists, and therefore I can say, “God, I can’t do this by myself. Help me not to take a drink today. Help me not to take a drug today.” And that works fine for me.”

Now, I would never attack someone’s religious beliefs and that’s not what I’m doing at all when I say, how can you choose to believe in something if you don’t already believe in it?  You either believe or you don’t believe.

This is a really big issue to me and I’ve given it a lot of thought over the last few years.  I do not have that ability to convince myself that something is or isn’t true, I either do believe or not.  Or I admit I don’t know which is the same as not knowing, or not believing, if you get my drift.  To believe you actually have to believe right!?!?

A friend of mine told me once that she simply changed the ending to a story (movie, book, etc) to a different ending in her mind and she chooses to remember that new ending instead of the real one.  She often will turn off a movie after the montage or during an upbeat moment, when things are still emotionally light and happy.  In her mind that is the ending, before the bad things can happen to the happy couple, or before a beloved character dies.  Even if that means missing crucial details of the story (yeah like the ending!).

So I have a problem with this.  Not necessarily that someone else does it (although that does erk me if I know they are otherwise reasonable people) but doing it myself is out of the question, basically impossible.  And I wouldn’t want to do it, even if I could.  You have to take the bad with the good in fiction and in life (granted, I have had it better than most in the world since I’m a spoiled American, and I’ve never been in a foxhole).

But I don’t want to live in a world I have created in my head, I want to live in reality, even if we can’t always agree what that reality consists of.

I recognize that King had to kick his habit and this kind of belief helped him out of the addictive nightmare he was in, so I’m glad for it.  And essentially, I just used his statement to spew about an issue that is important to me, so I am sorry for that. There is no problem with someone just choosing to believe and not wanting all the bullshit that goes with it.

But on choosing to believe, we’ll have to agree to disagree.  🙂

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Roland’s Addictions

Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series

Book One: The Gunslinger

(con’t from the last post)

Addiction” is a theme that runs throughout Stephen King’s works and I will talk more about it in the future. In this book, not only is our main character Roland addicted to the pursuit of the man in black, he is also addicted to tobacco just like a regular Joe.

The GunslingerAfter a long period of starvation as he follows his nemesis, Roland passes up a meaty meal of rabbit that the man in black offers him after magically shaking it loose from his robes. Roland admits readily that he is afraid of enchanted meat.

But later, when the man in black offers him tobacco, Roland is willing to risk a little enchantment. We all have a price right?

Roland’s price is probably a lot higher than most people’s and he is an honorable and complicated hero, even though he essentially killed Jake by letting him fall to his death in order to continue his pursuit of the man in black.

As I said before, King’s thoroughly developed characters are rife with faults.

As Roland runs toward the man in black instead of saving Jake he knows exactly what he is doing, and he knew he would do it beforehand as well. Furthermore, he knew it was going to haunt him for the rest of his days, even before it happened. Part of Roland’s appeal is that he knows himself so well. He’s an expert observer of other’s behavior and we now know, of his own.

Jake knew it too, sadly, and kept on traveling with Roland as there was no other realistic course of action that would save his life.  For other reasons too perhaps.

As Jake falls to his death, he yells that there are “other worlds than these.” This line, which is brought up repeatedly in later books, baffles me, even though I’ve read the whole series and The Talisman, which has many parallel worlds. Maybe I will figure it out as I continue to read (again, after 20+ years) the Dark Tower series….