I was nine years old the first time I watched Psycho. My mother brought it home from Blockbuster and lined the three of us kids up on the couch. I remember being confused—this wasn't our usual cartoon fare—then terrified. That night, I slept with one eye open (which is to say, not at all) because I was sure that Norman Bates was going to creep through my bedroom window. I eventually fell asleep in the early morning hours and came home from school the next day ready to watch Psycho again. It remains one of my favorite movies, part of a genre that proves terrifying viewers is one of the most powerful effects a film can have.

In the same way that horror films and Shirley Jackson offer me some odd comfort, I am drawn over and over again to the book of Revelation. I have struggled with anxiety most of my life, and many well-meaning friends have pointed me to passages like Matthew 6:34 or Philippians 4:6. But as I read these verses urging Christians not to worry, I’d wonder, what was wrong with me, that I couldn't obey this simple command? I longed to be the kind of Christian who had no fear. I knew those people, or at least I thought I did: Warm, effortless, kind Christians who only struggled with things like not spending enough time in prayer or not memorizing enough Scripture.

I was in college before I read Revelation start to finish. Even though I grew up in the church, Revelation always struck me as Advanced Bible Reading, for theologians and pastors. I sure couldn't explain what a pregnant woman was doing clothed in the sun and standing on top of the moon, or why that mattered for the Christian faith. But after a visit to Ephesus during a trip to Europe, I was curious about what John had to say ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.