Tag Archives: Aliens

Cowboys And Aliens

RELIGION, VIOLENCE, AND RUGGED INDIVIDUALISM

Daniel Craig

Cowboys and Aliens.

Cowboys and Aliens was a film recommended to me by some kids at school. I had high time decided it was time to RedBox a film I had meant to see in theaters. In the spirit of Joss Whedon’s Firefly/Serenity, Cowboys And Aliens was a science fiction work set in the Western Frontier, and apparently, word has it from friends on Facebook (they know who they are) it was a politically subversive graphic novel by Fred Van Lente. Similarities to Firefly include: a dead preacher, a prostitute with a heart of gold, a wimpy doctor who can’t fight if his life depended on it, and a femme fatale with paranormal abilities. Oh, yes, and hideous creatures that threaten the existence of humans, minus Firefly’s cannibalism. And that’s about it.

I think that Julie Clawson had it right in her review: the film remains unable to get past negative stereotypes of First Nations people. In fact, it is the slaughtering of Indians that give several characters status. At the beginning of the movies, as poor rancher Roy was bashing his boss, the Colonel, he says, “I don’t care how many Indians the Colonel put under neither.” Later, the Colonel to his Indian worker, “You get it through your thick Indian skull. Those stories weren’t for you.”The more Indian scalps you earn, the more larger than life you are in the Old West. This was exactly the case, as the Colonel and his son Percy have their way with the town. Their violent bullying not only represents hostility towards Native Americans (and our U.S.American history thereof), but also shows a lack of notion for an ethic of hospitality. Cowboys And Aliens promotes White male vigilante justice versus the dark Stranger. Before the last stand scene, Black Knife (the Apache leader) argued with Colonel, which leads Colonel to say, “There’s no reasoning with them [the Apaches].” The disagreement centered around Natives’ belief that the whites had brought the monsters. On the other hand, Colonel says that Black Knife, Apache leader IS the Evil One. Of course, we can’t accuse our beloved Newt Gingrich Colonel a racist, because he has a token Native friend, Nat Colorado, who vouches for him in the end, convincing the Apaches and members of the other tribes follow the Colonel’s military strategy by telling them of the Colonel’s kindness imperial paternalism.

Let me suggest that the community’s reception of the Apaches as well as Jake Lonergan and his gang is symptomatic of their individualistic religious sensibilities. As the aliens are invading, the preacher suspects it was demons; “a bunch of Bible stuff,” in the words of Doc. Doc continues to receive advice from the Preacher, who says that he needs to get a gun and learn how to shoot it (read: adopt rugged individualism and violence as a way of life). While “Reverend” Meacham is teaching Doc to shoot, he says that Doc has to earn God’s presence, recognize it, then act on it (by doing good). Grace is eliminated from the equation. What “Reverend” Meacham says is simply not true, from a Christian perspective. God freely sends God’s presence where God chooses. It is not by our actions that the Triune God is with us, but in the mission of the Incarnate Son and in the sending of the Holy Spirit. Meacham’s worldview reads more like an Enlightenment Deist, which went hand in hand with U.S. American rugged individualism. It is this Enlightment religion that advances a closed notion of the self, where the self works to over come the Other, and closes itself off from Others, to have life, liberty and the pursuit of property, ala John Locke. It is little wonder that an ethic of hospitality and openness is missing in this movie, and in communities that still adhere to such a view.

“Reverend” Meacham’s last words to Jake Lonergan, our protagonist, “God don’t care who you were, son. Only who you are.”

HOW CONVENIENT INDEED!

*Although I was highly critical and ripped this movie’s representation of First Nations peoples a new one, it was highly enjoyable, and I would recommend it, with a few qualifiers.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Mythbusters Sunday School Lesson #2: UFOs and Aliens

Today, while the senior pastor at our church is on vacation, I led today’s Sunday School lesson. We have been doing Myth Busters and today’s topic: UFO’s and Aliens.

Far from being just a matter of tabloids news, alien sightings and reports of Unidentified flying objects are taken more seriously than we realize. After experiencing these encounters, many persons relay messages that they believe are from the visitors or show physical evidence such as mysterious bruises or marks. These stories cause a number of problems for some Christians, since the Bible does not mention anything about other life-forms outside of Earth, heaven, and hell. For many Bible-believing Christians, Scripture is the primary source of knowledge, and it alone. This means that we must understand everything biblically, as in how the one true God would have us to see the world. But if something is mentioned outside of Scripture, how are Christians to understand scientific discoveries and strange happenings such as alien-life and flying saucers? If you search online for UFO and the Bible, more than likely, you will read someone who argues that the strange scene in Ezekiel 1 is an example of persons, even back 600 years before Christ was born, of running into flying saucers.

If one sees Ezekiel in this light, then the two other visions like his, found in Daniel 6 and Revelation 4, must also be understood this way; Ezekiel, Daniel and John encounter alien-life forces rather than the presence of God (as Scripture says). I once had a conversation with a man in church about Ezekiel 1, and he said that the wheels up wheels that the prophet saw was actually part of the engine of a space shuttle. Other possible biblical references to aliens/UFOs, according to one evangelist, Chris Ward, may be found in passages such as Genesis 6 and the 2nd Peter. Ward argues that these alien encounters are not demonic, but rather people who see visitors are experiencing contact with fallen angels, what we call the Nephilim in Christian tradition (sons of God who marry women in Genesis 6 and have giant children). Jesus, also warns us that the last days will be like the days of Noah, the days when the Nephilim were on the earth. Scripture, as well as other books respected by the first Christians such as the book of Enoch, Jubilee, and Jasher, which are at times quoted in the New Testament, point towards a world of stories that may help us understand the UFOs and Aliens.

There are some serious problems with Ward’s approach to understanding Scripture. Rather than allowing Scripture to guide us in understanding the plight of those who experienced extraterrestrials, Ward is using Scripture along with books outside of the Bible to show UFOs and Aliens can line up with the witness of Scripture. He is allowing for the UFO/Agenda bias his reading of certain biblical passages. For example, Genesis 6 says that the sons of God procreated with the daughters of women. In some cases in the Hebrew Bible, the sons of God refers to the heavens hosts in heaven that accompany God such as in the book of Job. However, this is not always the case. Sons of God can also refer to the kings of nations, and early interpreters of Genesis 6 who were Christians, such as Augustine of Hippo, thought that the sons of God meant the sons of Seth, who was the son of Adam, who was the son of God. Jesus also says in the gospels that angels (heavenly messengers) cannot marry, and therefore cannot procreate and have children.
What is common in all persons who tell us of their experiences with aliens and UFOs is that the aliens speak to them, with claims to give humanity a higher consciousness, an new way of thinking, and better technology. While we cannot dismiss the experiences of other human beings, we can share the truth to help them interpret their experiences. In the Christian worldview, God does not need aliens, or Nephilim, or watchers to speak for him to us; rather, the truth is out there, that God speaks through his Son, who he has appointed heir of all things and through whom he created the universes (Hebrews 1:1-2).

Truth and Peace,

Rod