Sunday, August 29, 2010


"Insular Christianity has a very serious and crippling disability with modern cultural mythology.“

It is kind of strange and a little bit sad how this piece came to be. I had seen the preview of the new and upcome Christmas release of Aliens vs. Predators: Requiem movie. I had sent out an email to an all men small group that I belong to, basically saying "check out this preview, wow I can't wait to see it!" I added at the end (very much tongue in cheek) that I thought we should collectively watch this movie and discuss, as a topic, it's Christian and/or biblical message. (And for clarity's sake, if you've missed it, the final sentence was a joke).

Knowing the guys, I really didn't expect any replies as excited as I felt we should all actually be. (And again, if you haven't picked up on this yet, I'm a big Aliens fan). Some people simply aren't into it, and that's fine.

However, one responded (privately and not through a “reply all” return) that he didn't feed it was a good idea and didn't see any edification value to it....

...[insert crickets chirping here]...

“Ahhh...You're joking... right?” I said "It wasn't intended to have edification value but simply some fun."

Nope. Dead serious.
And it was this comment that got me thinking – and not because I had some ulterior agenda to defend the Aliens-franchise that I am such a big fan of, but in defense of our collective cultural mythologies.

Most people tend to think that mythologies only exist in the past, from distant ancient - and usually extinct - civilizations. Mythologies exist in every culture. They are how a society communicates. Literature, movies, music, nearly all forms or art & entertainment reflect the current culture's – society's – understandings, philosophy, loves, concerns, and fears.

To embrace the insular, or isolationism, is to disconnect from these numerous and various richnesses of art & entertainment; it is to disconnect with society.

There are elements of profound truths in fictitious television programing like Star Trek: The Next Generation's the Borg and big screen movies like Terminator, Terminator 2, Terminator 3, and the Matrix movies. Even in Sci-fi literature like Fred Saberhagen's Berserkers we see incredibly deep-rooted fears and concerns about our rampant technological race and our blatant dependency on it manifest themselves in their forms of mythology. The Borg and Terminator are the realization of this technological dependency brought to life in detailed nightmarish quality. Not to mention as a side note our fear of some sort of apocalyptic end of the world.

We see this brutally and disturbingly presented in H.R. Giger's artwork – even as offensive as it can sometimes be. We see the blending of organic creature with machine and we see his art come to life in the Alien-mythology.

Vampires in literature came to the front primarily during the Victorian era. The concern, fear, and realization was twofold with the vampire-mythology. One was the nightmare cognation that we – as human beings – are feeding on one another. The upper elite class surviving and stifling and killing the lower peasant class. The other nightmare realization was that (as an upper class elite) we are nothing more than a monster in a dressed-up disguise of a human being.

Brian Lumley's Necroscope-series (13 volumes) and the whole Wamphyri-mythology poses the haunting question of how far we can sink into depravity before any hope of salvation is lost.

My favourite author, H.P. Lovecraft, writes of forgotten eon-old Elder Gods in blasphemous worship and the insanity of the Spaces where aliens reside. Lovecraft's Cthulhu-mythos voiced the apprehensions and fears in the '20's and '30's of foreign immigration. Although manifested in the fear of discovering their inbred alien heritage, it had the potential of setting the stage for a paranoia run amok to what would become the Nazi's belief in the Aryan purity of the One Human Species, and the genocide of all other subhumans. Thank God it failed.

Even Pornography holds cultural truths. (And if porn itself was a cultural mythology, I would suggest we watch them too.) On a side note, I believe the majority of Christians subscribe to the philosophy of the hedonistic porn addiction. See the article, XXX: Porn for the Soul.

To choose to be blind to these fears and concerns or to entertain them as only intellectual fancies is to arrogantly ignore the plights that surround us.

Movies likes Blade Runner, characters like Data from Star Trek:TNG and the cloned Ellen Ripley in Alien Resurrection all scream the question of what does it mean to be human? What does it truly mean to possess a soul? And more importantly (and disturbingly), maybe some of us don't have one.

Is our society voicing a concern or fear with it's cultural mythology of the Aliens-franchise? I think it is, and strongly.

With all 7 movies, all 10 books (that I read, there are more), and numerous graphic novels, there is a common enemy within each and every one of them. The Wyland-Yutani Corporation. Not the Aliens. Not the Predators. A corporation.

It's okay, alright, acceptable and has edificational value to watch the documentary series The Corporation, in which the central theme is the documentary is an attempt to assess the "personality" of the corporate "person" by using DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders) to label the Corporation as a psychopath. However, when this truth and concern is played out in science-fiction or horror genre, like Aliens, it becomes unacceptable, without edificational value, and "unnecessary and mindless gratuitous violence" (I've been told by another).

Strange. It's acceptable to label a Corporation as a psychopath, but when we play it out to it's logical conclusions, it becomes unacceptable. However, when a Christian friend of mine felt compelled to read a fire-and-brimstone preacher's sermon describing in minute, shocking, and disturbing detail, the very nature of the brutal tortures of hell, it was justified, apparently, out of a "necessary" to better motivate us to evangelize.

Am I the only one seeing the hypocrisy here?

When we look at this tiny slice of our society's cultural mythology that I provided as an example, we see that our non-religious - our secular society is painfully aware of our collectively fallen, or "condemned" state. It is manifested in our art & entertainment. We are aware of it, concerned about it, worried about it, and even frightened of it.

We do not need Christians preaching the heresy of Bad-News-First-Evangelism (as the French philosopher Jacques Ellul puts it). We do not need to be convinced or convicted of our sins or condemnation. The Spirit of God moves and lives within the secular world; they just don't see it and too often Christians just won't recognize, acknowledge, or allow it. The invisible Spirit of God has already convinced them of their "condemnation" through their cultural mythology. God is at work.

Evangelical Christians who subscribe to the One-Two-Punch method of evangelizing (first the Bad News and only then the Good News) really have an agenda all their own. It isn't good enough that society acknowledges it's own "condemnation" through it's own cultural mythology. No sir! It must recognize it's fallen state through the Christian Subculture's Mythology. Christianity is not reaching out to people in a context they can understand or relate to. Christianity has stopped speaking the language of the people. Call it the new-Latin if you please.

So I ask you, are watching these movies, viewing these artworks, listening to this music, reading these books have an edification factor? I don't know. In a postmodern world, I think understanding it's numerous cultural mythologies is quite valuable.

Is it really any wonder why church attendance and membership is dropping? Is it really surprising to find the Institutional Church slowly dying? Is it really shocking to discover that the Christian Subculture is so rejected and viewed with such contempt and disgust?

Our society is simply ripe for the 'Good News'. The problem is the subculture of Christianity is too blind and self-obsessed to deliver it.

The proof is in the pudding. The Religion of Christianity has failed. I find its obsessive desire of becoming insular very sad.

But maybe I'm wrong. I've been told this whole "rant", this entire "diatribe" has been for no other use or purpose than to fulfill my love of a movie. I guess I'm the hedonist.

1 comment:

Tammy said...

nicely written. i love it.