Stephen King has had a career-long battle with faith. He's written about a crazed evangelical mama in "Carrie" yet acknowledged the power of belief in "The Stand." But in his latest book "Revival" (his 63rd!) he's written a sermon delivered by a doubting preacher that compares religion to an insurance scam — and that's just for starters.
In real life, King's a believer, as he told TODAY's Matt Lauer Tuesday. Here, a few more words from King on the here and now, the afterlife, and what he fears most:
King chose to have faith after weighing the alternatives.
"I made a decision to believe in God because it's better to believe than not to believe," he said, noting that his belief became possible while in the throes of addiction. "So it was easy to say, 'If I've got a power greater than myself okay, that's fine, I can use that to make life livable and good.'"
He's not exactly sold on an afterlife, however.
"It might be that we are wired up in a certain way ... certain circuits open when you're dying and give you a lift. That seems to be part of the organic survival mechanism," he said. "As far as what's after, there's no downside in believing that there is a heaven or an Elysian Fields."
Don't confuse his dark writings with the author, though.
"I like to think that people can make a differentiation between the character and the man who wrote the character. Because I've written some pretty awful things in my time.... Hey guys, I'm all right," he said, pausing to look at the camera with menace. "But of course I'd say that, wouldn't I."
So what scares Stephen King?
"I don't think I fear death so much as things like Alzheimer's disease or advanced physical problems," said the author, who still suffers aches and pains after being hit by a truck near his Maine home in 1999.
Lauer admitted he was only halfway through "Revival," and King gave him a bit of a spoiler alert: "It's got a scary windup." When Lauer thanked him sarcastically, King added, "In the dark, no one can hear you scream."
"Knock it off!" said Lauer.
Not likely, not from King. Read an exclusive excerpt from "Revival" here.
Excerpt provided by Scribner, a division of Simon and Schuster, Inc.