Responce to Diamanda Hagan’s Apocalypse Reviews – Part 2: The Christian Narrative

One of the main problems with the rapture narratives of Fundamentalist Christians is that it is basically the same story. The Rapture comes, the Antichrist takes over the world, an intrepid group of Christians fight against the Fascist World State, throw in a redemption plot and repeat as necessary. The sameness of these plots can be explained in that all of these Rapture stories are generally retellings of the same story, i.e. The Book of Revelations. All in all I have nothing against the retelling of stories, but I have a problem with the ideas behind the Rapture narrative that I believe distract from the message of Jesus Christ. I will also go on into why I feel that stuff like this exists in the first place, and how I feel Christianity should be approched.

Manichean Duality and Why It’s Silly

As far as the Apocalypse Quartet goes, the stories don’t differentiate much from each other. You have the intrepid group of Christian Fundamentalists (good) and obnoxiously Antichrist (evil). In between you have the “hero” of the story, a non-Christian who after many trials involving weird pseudoscience, fascistic secret police and a hammy Antichrist becomes a Christian and is never heard from again. They are then never heard from again. They are also usually played by minor celebrities, which I imagine is a way to give fundamentalist Christianity legitimacy. As much legitimacy as Mr. T can provide anyways.

Theologically, the movies work on a Fundamentalist reading of  the Book of Revelations, which is where the movies really suffer. They offer no room for questioning the doctrine, and what doctrine that exists is shoved down the viewer’s throat like a very large communion wafer. When the characters are good, they are exemplars of purity. When they are evil, they are so damn hammy that it totally looses any credibility. The redemption plot offers a character that hangs between the two, but for the most part they end up joining the ranks of the Christian fundamentalists, and then disappearing to make way for the redemption arc of the next movie.

I have problems with this on a theological level, as well as a narrative one. In the end both of these are probably going to be the same. The first one is that the way good and evil is portrayed in these movies is really Manichean. As Hagan herself states “the goodies and the badies must be as clearly signposted as possible or the little baby Jesus will cry.” While Good Vrs Evil is a common theme in most narratives, it is usually done with a bit more subtlety. Yes, the show takes place in a fascist state, but the presence of the a gloating evil is just silly and insulting. Pure evil, if it exists, can not survive in the ambiguous atmosphere of our reality, let alone in a human vessel. When you have people kicking dogs because they are evil, this just moves the story into the realm of camp. unfortunately due to the homophobic nature of the religious right, they can’t do camp right. Nor would they want too, the film is meant to be taken seriously.

My problem with this is nothing I can really explain in perfectly theological terms except for he fact that the world doesn’t work like that, nor does religion. The fact is that no one is ever a hundred percent good or evil. Actually, I can bring that in Christian terms with the notion of sin. In Christianity, everyone sins. It’s like a brain virus that cuts one of from communication with God. Being a hundred percent “good” is impossible in this concept, because even if you are the greatest person in the world, you aren’t in a full relationship with God. Likewise, you can’t be fully evil because even though we are blocked of by the sin virus, God is still communicating with all of us through various means, possibly extending to everything we perceive, and even if someone was to completely devolve into sin I highly doubt they would become that…odvious. They would all likely be turned into something beyond human understanding, and as such beyond the bounds of human concepts such as camp.

And while we’re on the subject, being a Christian does not give you a sin-free card. Just saying that you accept the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as God and that Jesus became human and died for our sins does not mean you are inherently sin-free or that you have a free card for the rest of your life to do whatever. Being a Christian means you acknowledge the world is fucked up, but that God (i.e. a state of non-fucked-ness) incarnated itself into a human being so that you can become non-fucked up. And that human being was not an easy person to exemplify.

The Christian Narrative

There is a story I heard where a liberal Christian was talking to a fundamentalist Christian who were arguing about the nature of Jesus. Liberal Christian viewed Jesus Christ as the Jesus of the gospels, a hippie who wandered the land and was brutally executed by the state. The fundamentalist Christian preferred to think of the Jesus of the Revelations, Chuck Norris with a fiery sword. Since these views of Christ are kind of in conflict, a debate grew up. The fundamentalist ended by basically saying “I don’t want to pray to any God I could beat up.” In here we have a major flaw in the Revelations-centric view of Christianity. Yes, Gospel Jesus is a “wimp,” in the conventional sense of the word. He does not fight back when the Man comes to get him, and he dies what in any normal sense is a shameful, pointless and violent death. Despite this, you still can’t beat up Gospel Jesus for the simple fact that you can‘t kill him! He only returns from the dead three days later. You can’t beat something that doesn’t die.

In the end, this is Christianity distilled. The world is a messed up place, were the strong prey upon the weak, but the weak can take comfort in the fact that God is one of them, literally. You can say that this creates a group of sheep people, but it can also be said that by incarnating himself into Jesus Christ, God is making a political statement against injustice. Do not hurt these guys, they are my people. That the Rapture narratives seek to supplant this image of Jesus troubles me because it is a violent and blatant denial of the image of Jesus Christ that has been the basis of the Christian religion.

Anyways, my point in going on this rant is that this is very different from how God is portrayed in the Rapture narratives. To put it blankly, God is a dick in these movies. He abducts people and takes them away from their families, an activity that is more in line with Stalin than Jesus Christ. Furthermore, God does this suddenly, causing plane crashes and untold damages to other people, and the kicker is that somehow he is supposed to be “the good guy.” This is all very obvious, and Diamanda Hagan has already gone into it, but it also brings up the fact this is not what Christianity is supposed to be. If we are to presume that Christianity at its core is a religion of mimicking the ways of Christ, then the God of the Rapture is against Christ.




3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Responce to Diamanda Hagan’s Apocalypse Reviews – Part 1: Personal Background « Dylan Tern
  2. Diamanda Hagan (@Diamandahagan)
    Mar 02, 2012 @ 15:20:11

    Interesting, though id argue Jesus in the gospels wasn’t a hippy. He made a flagrum and assaulted the moneychangers. he used a scourge, the exact thing that was used on him pre-crucifixion. thats serious assault on multiple people.

    I think people see Jesus as they’d like him to be.


    • dylantern
      Mar 02, 2012 @ 20:21:37

      You have a good point there. Hippy is a misleading term. Unless you count stuff like the Weather Underground or something like that. I also agree with you that people tend to see Jesus the way they’d like him to be. As much as I do tend to view Jesus as an angry young man, I must admit that this is probably me putting modern contexts on a situation I don’t really understand. Jesus is kind of like Che Guevera in that way.

      The problem that is at play here is the notion of God as a person, which I have some problems with. My concept of God is a Sustaining Universal Force much similar to Brahman in Hinduism, or a state that is attained through devotional and/or meditative practices. I much prefer a mystical understanding of God, which according to Karl Barth makes me an “esoteric atheist.” Take that as you will.


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