Stephen King on Growing Up and Believing in God

NPR’s Terry Gross recently interviewed Stephen King about his latest novel, Joyland. King shared a number of things on growing up and believing in God, but the most interesting part, I think, was this exchange:

The thing that I really enjoyed was that it was all there in front of you so that when Miss Marple got everybody together in her room and said this and this and this should have been obvious to me, I’m thinking to myself, well, it should have been obvious to me too. There was a puzzle element to it, and you know, I just couldn’t figure out how anybody could plot that way.

And I guess the reason why was because I was never built to be the sort of writer who plots things. I usually take a situation and go from there. So with “Joyland,” there is a trail that you can follow that leads to the killer. But you know what – if you figured out who it was in advance, you were doing better than I was because I got near the end of the book before I realized who it was.

GROSS: Uh-oh.

(LAUGHTER)

GROSS: You might have been in trouble.

KING: No, no, that’s good. I think that’s good.

GROSS: Is it? Why?

KING: I don’t want the reader to feel like this is all a sort of pre-fab creation. I want it to feel organic, to feel like it grew by itself. I’ve never seen novels as built things. I have a tendency to see them as found things so that I always feel a little bit like an archaeologist who’s working to get some fragile fossil out of the ground. And the more you get out unbroken, the better you succeed.

There’s a lot of lashing out in the comments regarding King’s views on God, such as this one:

As much as I enjoy Stephen King’s books, he loses credibility when he speaks nonsense about the supernatural:
“If you say, ‘Well, OK, I don’t believe in God. There’s no evidence of God,’ then you’re missing the stars in the sky and you’re missing the sunrises and sunsets and you’re missing the fact that bees pollinate all these crops and keep us alive and the way that everything seems to work together.”

Mr. King might have said this with no ill intent, but he is simply wrong to state that those who do not believe in god(s) are missing out on beauty, wonder, or the transcendent. It is time to stop using and accepting this non sequitur, which only serves to cast non-believers as unfeeling and deficient.

Regardless of your thoughts on the matter, it’s worth a consideration.

I really enjoyed 11/23/63, so at less than $8 for the paperback, Joyland is on my summer reading list.

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