God’s Will, Stephen King and Under the Dome

Posted: June 25, 2014 in books
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utdFirst a confession, I hate horror. I’ve never willingly watched a horror movie and walked out on the one that was on in my house (edited for TV) because even that was too much. As such, I really had no interest in reading Stephen King. Then a year or two ago, I read his book 11/22/63 because the concept seemed interesting and it seemed he was veering away from horror. For the most part he did in that book and it was a really thought-provoking read.

I assumed he would do the same with Under the Dome. I watched the first season of the CBS series based on the book, so before vacation, I picked up a copy to read on the beach. I really liked the series I figured the book would fill in some of the details and prepare me for the coming series. I doubt that is the case. This book is wildly different from the series.

Did I like it? That’s a tough question. There were several to many times where I seriously considered quitting it as some parts were so gratuitous, that I felt I had no business reading it. At times I felt it was needlessly gory and at other times, needlessly dirty. There is one thing to be sure, King knows how to let you know a character is capable of great evil. It’s a well written page turner beyond a doubt, I read all 1,074 pages in just under two weeks, but I cannot recommend it, because I know many would find it extremely offensive. That being said for every time I thought, “Oh, Stephen, why did you go there?” I also thought “How is he going to redeem this?” and “What is going to happen next?”

More than anything else though, what kept me reading is what he did with the main villain, Big Jim Rennie. You see one of the ways that the TV series differs from the book is that in the book, Rennie is a “Christian”, a bible quoting, “God-fearing Christian” convinced that everything that is happening is “God’s will.” Before the dome comes down to separate the town, his town, from the rest of the world, he’s a shifty egomaniacal big fish in a small pond, who thinks manufacturing Methamphetamine is okay because he uses the money (well some of the money) for the good of the town. After the dome, with no one to stop him, he tries to become “emperor” killing anyone who gets in the way of him doing “God’s will.” I think this is what hit me more than anything. There is this huge exploration of situational ethics, doing the wrong thing for the “right reason” at play in the pages of Under the Dome. And Big Jim’s actions show the disastrous results of combining this line of thinking with a misguided faith.

To me this book says when it comes to God’s will, we all need to check ourselves before we wreck ourselves. You see the danger of seeking God’s will isn’t God, it’s us. The Bible says the heart is deceitful above all things, and it can be really easy for us to assume that “God’s will” is whatever we want. The reality is God’s will is for us to want what He wants. We need to know and be in the Word and use the Word to guide our will to God’s.

Romans 12 gives the guidance and lets us know how to discern God’s will. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” God’s will and the ways of the world are nearly always diametrically opposed. While I can’t recommend this book, and I have no idea of whether or not this was King’s motivation, Under the Dome challenged me to test the motivations of my heart before assuming God’s will is whatever I want to do. In that respect it was worth the read.

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