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Bill Skarsgård in IT, photo courtesy Warner Bros.
Bill Skarsgård in IT, photo courtesy Warner Bros.

Blood and Water

We first see the clown in the sewer, eyes cracking the darkness like pinholes through paper. Rain falls down like ribbons above, pelting Georgie as he peers through the grate. There he sees Pennywise, who holds Georgie’s paper boat, luring the boy closer with talk of popcorn and circuses.

Then, when Georgie reaches his hand through the storm gutter, the clown opens his mouth. Rows of needled teeth bite into the boy’s arm. Georgie tries to crawl away, blood flowing into the water-filled streets.

And then, suddenly, the boy’s gone, too. He disappears into the sewers, his life drained into the darkness.

What is Pennywise from IT? Not a clown, really. Pennywise is a shape-shifting entity of malicious intent. Evil personified. But he’s more than that, really—a supernatural, twisted, blasphemous parody of Christ.

In the Bible, Jesus is specifically tied to a couple of liquid elements: Blood and water. “This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood,” we read in 1 John 5:6. Two verses later, we see, “The spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.”

Water and blood were Jesus’ instruments of salvation. He walked on water, was baptized in water and called Himself the “living water.” And then, in His climactic sacrifice, Jesus died for us—washing us clean with His blood, we’re taught. A sacrifice. “Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood,” it reads in Hebrews 9:22, “and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Even after Jesus died, those two liquids were synonymous with Jesus: In John 19:34, we’re told that when a soldier stabbed a spear in Jesus’ crucified corpse, blood and water poured out of the wound.

Now, consider Pennywise, the sewer-dwelling demon of Derry, Maine. He does not walk on water, but rather wallows in it. And this is no “living water,” either: It’s not even close to being safe to drink. He lives in “gray water,” filled with worthless waste, flushed and disposed of. This truly is dead water, a place where Pennywise feels at home. And he takes pleasure in populating it with his victims. Sinners are not “born again” through a baptism in water. Instead, innocent children simply die. We all float down here, we’re told.

Pennywise is big into blood, too. But instead of shedding his own blood, Pennywise takes it from others. Instead of sacrificing for us, as Jesus did, Pennywise’s victims are sacrifices to him.

In some ways, Pennywise feels like a false god from the Old Testament—Molech demanding the lives of children to sate his appetite for blood and fear. And the creature indeed feeds on fear in the movie—even sniffing one of its victims to detect any telltale whiff of terror.

So how does one fight that sort of pure, unadulterated fear? How do you battle a monster who knows just what your greatest fears are? Especially when you’re 12 years old and have so much to be afraid of?

The Bible tells us. And IT‘s young heroes seem to pull their playbook from the Good Book.

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