Still Under The Dome

So many conflicting feelings about Stephen King’s Under the Dome. Like the non-centric circles my Accelerated Math class drew last week, I have at least as many thoughts overlapping as in the drawing above.

The book started out fabulously. Could-not-put-it-down-good. That’s rare, for me, especially with a novel I would consider of the pulp fiction variety. A dome, from literally out of the blue, descends on Chester’s Mill, Maine, completely cutting off a section of the town. Cruise missiles can’t destroy it, neither can a super strength acid developed by the government in the hopes of creating some kind of escape for the people. In typical Stephen King form we have sarcasm (which I find hilarious) and a lens for examining 21st century America (which I find to be sadly accurate). But, we also find his mockery of religion. Or, at least of those who supposedly uphold it.

Stephen King knows the Word. I don’t know if he’s a Christian, I don’t know where he stands on faith. But, I do know that he knows scripture. Short of adding chapter and verse, he quotes whole sentences from the Bible quite accurately. Example: One of the evil men running the town says,

And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven! Burning as if it were a lamp!’

“We just saw that!”

Chef nodded. His eyes were fixed on the black smutch where Air Ireland 179 had met her end. “And the name of the star is called Wormwood, and many men died because they were made bitter.” Are you bitter, Sanders?”

“No!” Andy assured him.

The first quote is from Revelation 8:10; the second is Revelation 8:11.  This unnerves me because I don’t know where King is going with his knowledge. If he uses it to advocate good vs. evil, or better yet the Enemy’s defeat, great.  But, if I’m on page 779 (which I am) of 1072, and all I’m left holding at the end is a pile of lies underneath dust and ashes, I won’t be too thrilled.

I’m going to see if I can finish it tonight because 100 other books are now calling my name, and King’s voice is growing ever fainter in their vehemence. I just have to see what he does with the Dome: why has it appeared, and will it go away?

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23 thoughts on “Still Under The Dome”

  1. I couldn't get enough Stephen King when I was in high school, but I don't know that I've read one of his books since. I'd like to make a return to his work sometime.

    I'll be interested to see how you end up liking this one. I hate it when authors rely on the “kooky Christian” stock characters, so I imagine it would be similarly frustrating to see scripture misused as a plot device.

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  2. Danielle, be assured that I will post my thoughts when I finish it (this week, I hope). Thanks for not spoiling it for me 😉 and I look forward to our 'talk' when I post my review as I respect your opinion.

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  3. Megan, I could barely get through Stephen King myself, except for The Shining, Carrie and Kujo and Misery. There are several I had to cast aside in despair (Necessary Things, It, and The Stand which I hear has a very worthy ending). More than frustrating, to me, about scripture being misused is how it disturbs my very core. That is one Book which I cannot stand mocked.

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  4. Like Megan, I read a lot of Stephen King in HS, but quit reading/watching after I think Kujo. His books seemed to get more disturbing with each new one. This is one I will pass on…though I will be curious to read how you feel at the end.

    How is your school year going?!

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  5. Sara, I want to talk with you about Stephen (perhaps when I put up my review after finishing this book?) because I'd be so interested in your perspective regarding him/Christianity/scripture. It really wigs me out when he quotes it as accurately as he does, although the context is bizarre, because how can he reconcile his horror books and faith? Although faith is overcoming evil…anyway, we'll talk.

    As to my school year, it's great! I absolutely love my children, each one brighter and more innocent than the next. I'll be sure to put up some posts about teaching, and the kids, because they are one of my great joys. This year. 😉

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  6. I'd be interested in reading your thoughts on this one. I had very very mixed thoughts on it. (I couldn't put it down–though I thought the beginning to be the best–yet I couldn't help getting offended in places.)

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  7. Becky, I think the beginning is the best, too. At this point, around page 802, I'm just a little tired of the name calling, swearing, and suffering under the dome. I'm ready for a resolution, and hopefully the defeat of evil! We'll see…I'm glad to know you've read it, and we can talk about it when I'm done.

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  8. Beautiful review, Bellezza! I have heard people say that this is one of Stephen King's best books (someone even said that it is better than 'The Stand') and so I hope you like the way how things turn out in the end. I loved your comment – “I'm going to see if I can finish it tonight because 100 other books are now calling my name, and King's voice is growing ever fainter in their vehemence.” It made me smile 🙂

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  9. Never a great fan of King, although Pete (Karnas) is & could probably give you an opinion on this author & whether he's an individual of faith, I think he's pretty much read everything by King, liking your reasoning & as usual will wait for your conclusion, but I don't think it will change my mind, although Funnily enough I've read & enjoyed some Koontz which I consider mine a similar thread.

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  10. Having been called out by Parrish as a King connoisseur, I'll throw in my two sense. King has a rather stock character – the malicious religious zealot who stirs the pot and spreads the crazy around. This one pops up quite frequently in various guises (Under the Dome, Misery, The Mist.) It's pretty clear that King is quite antagonistic towards fundamental zealotry and hypocrisy, especially that found in organized religion. That being said, he also has quite a few very sympathetic religious characters. At the end of Salem's Lot, Father Callahan isn't portrayed in the most positive light, but he shows up again with his faith intact in the Dark Tower Series. The Stand is as close as you get to an old-fashioned good-vs-evil morality tale with a central character being a 100 some year old lady whose faith in God is so strong that she rallies the forces of good to eventually overcome evil. As a person very sympathetic to faith, I'm not at all offended by King's portrayals nor do I think he's mocking scripture – just those who would abuse it.

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  11. I'm wondering if you've reading King's “On Writing”. The autobiographical stuff is fascinating, and went far toward giving me a context for reading his fiction. I've still not read much, but at least I'm past the reflexive “oh my gosh I can't deal with this” response!

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  12. Parrish, I've not read anything by Dean Koontz (doesn't he do those medical thrillers?). I'm pretty much not a big fan of horror; okay, I rarely read it. There's just something about King that compells me to pick him up from time to time. Then, more often than not, I wonder why I did as I can't figure out what he's doing with an issue that's quite important to me: Christianity. I'm plugging on with The Dome to see what he does with the end. If there was any purpose beyond entertainment.

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  13. Audrey, Harriet and Isabella is a selection from one of my book clubs. I don't normally read biographies, either, but this one comes highly recommended about Harriet Beecher Stowe's life. I'll put up my review as soon as I've read it.

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  14. Pate, thanks so much for visiting and leaving me your insight on Kings' writing. I have gotten as far as half way several times on The Stand but I've never finished it. I'm so glad to know that evil is overcome by good in that particular novel. As to his antagonism toward hypocrisy, I totally get that. We are all sinners saved by grace, and all of us fallible; “there is no one perfect, no not one”. The issue of mockery becomes valid, in my opinion, when someone tries to claim that they are perfect. One of the characters in The Dome does just that, and I can see why King writes of him with such scorn. This character deserves every word.

    I'm very interested in your idea that King mocks those who abuse faith/scripture; with that, I whole heartedly concur. I hope we can talk more about The Dome when I finish it.

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  15. Linda, I've heard wonderful things about On Writing. Just as reading Hemingway's autobiographical work The Moveable Feast helped me so appreciate his novels, I'm sure King's book would help me understand his novels. It was also interesting to peruse his web site, to which I'd linked at the top of my post, which stated that he was raised Methodist and that although he doesn't attend church regularly, he does read the Bible. That much is very evident to me.

    I love to read author's books about writing, so thanks for reminding me of King's. You awesome writer, you. 🙂

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  16. I'm anxious to read this novel, but the size keeps putting me off. I shouldn't worry about that since many of my favorite novels have been very long.

    With regards to Dean Koontz, if you only read one of his books, I highly recommend Odd Thomas. Don't bother with the sequels. They don't come close to the wonderful experience of the first in the series. I've read it twice, that's how much I loved it.

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  17. Les, this is a beast of a book; I'm not altogether sure it required that many pages. I began to tire of it 2/3 of the way through, but I had to see how it ended.

    Thanks for the heads up about Odd Thomas. The title alone sounds fascinating! And, I'm glad to be spared any sequels.

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  18. It's not well known that rural Maine has long been an area where religious fundamentalism is very strong. And with respect, I grew up in rural Maine knowing some fairly wacky religious characters who were very influential in our community. It would be difficult for any serious Maine author who grew up in the puckerbrush like King did not to reflect that background in his or her writings and try to come to terms with it. I think you should not be offended by his characters or the quotations. However you decide to interpret the book, agree or disagree with his premises and conclusions, I think you can be assured that he's examining the ideas carefully and thoughtfully. And that's all you can ask of an author. He IS making you think, yes?

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  19. Sorry I'm always remembering just one more thing I forgot to say. Along with the wacky ones, I also remember many rural Mainers with a strong, quiet faith who inspired me as a child and who inspire me still. I would never want to offend them or those like them, and I don't think that's Mr. King's intent either.

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  20. Morag, thanks for sharing your perspective with me. I didn't know about the fundamental religious aspect in Maine, and it's easy for any humans to take things to the extreme, or out of context, or for the purpose of self. The more I think about it, and King does make me think, the more I believe he's trying to examine motives behind belief/faith/religion. It's always a sticky wicket for me, though, because I believe so strongly. I don't want to think he's mocking scripture, just the humans who misinterpret it.

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