Books for Christmas: The Stand

Reviewed By Father Jim McDermott, SJ
Wednesday, December 2, 2020

There are two ways of thinking about pandemic-related pop culture right now. Some people have no desire to add the nightmares of a fictionalized medical catastrophe to our current life experience, perhaps don’t even want to watch television shows in which our own reality is acknowledged. Others I know have been binging every post-apocalyptic movie they can find on Netflix.

In general I find myself in the former category. I can only take so much! And yet, I find myself thinking about Stephen King’s 1978 pandemic magnum opus “The Stand” a lot these days. It captures so much of what we have been going through — the struggles and sacrifices required to keep going; the unexpected communities of support we have discovered along the way; and also the constant temptations to hostility and division, rage and despair. For all its slick horror-film packaging, at its core “The Stand” is a meditation on faith, hope and love in hard times.

Along the way it also offers some remarkable, unexpected contemplations on discipleship and the life of Christ. For those who can get past the inciting incident of a devastating, fast-acting worldwide plague, it’s a most unexpected, prescient and powerful novel.