Stranger Things has become one of my all-time favorite shows.
It’s a delightful and frightening coming of age tale in which the weird kids, the preppy teens, and the messed-up adults save the day.
It’s a tale of parallel planes and nostalgia trips that allows us to ask the “What if” questions of life:
What if an evil force invaded, and the little ones and the broken ones, saved the world?
What if there is a world within a world, a place that is here and not here, and it’s threatening to break through?
How do we deal with the repercussions of confronting the darkness in the world?
After looking at the evil in this story, what do we learn about the evils that plague our own reality, and how do we confront it?
There are evil forces at play in the land of Hawkins, Indiana, in the form Demagorgons and warring governments who care more about beating each other than the lives of their citizens. There are the loveable “losers,” the girl with no name but fantastic powers, the single mother barely hanging on, the cop still grieving his daughter’s death, and the dysfunctional step-siblings.
And beneath it all lies the Upside Down, an alternate dimension of death, decay, and darkness, with a creature (and, in the second season, creatures), who seek to infiltrate our realm and destroy us.
In short, it’s a biblical story.
The Bible contains stories of the looming threats of the otherworldly powers of darkness and the present power of Empire, not to mention actual monsters (Job 40:15-24 and 41). Its list of heroes includes infertile nomads, foreigners who glean the fields, a shepherd boy overloooked by his own father, and a refugee born in a manger.
And beneath is all is the Kin-dom of God, God’s Dream for the world, the New Heaven and New Earth, the here but elsewhere, the now but not yet, a space of interdimensional, thin-planed existence.
Storytelling is a formative experience. Sci-fi and fantasy are some of my favorite storytelling mediums, because they remind us of the world’s enchantment. We remember that magic is real, we are not alone, and there are things more beautiful and great than we can comprehend, yet are within our reach.
It’s been a while since I’ve dug into the theology of a good story, and I want to begin again with the dark enchantment of Stranger Things.
On the blog, I will be spending the next two weeks digging into the theology in Stranger Things through a few themes. I hope you will join me on this and other journeys through the lens of Fangirl Theology!