Tag Archives: hell

I Watched #Hellbound Before I Changed It to Buffy #btvs

Last night I was pretty bored and I needed to watching something while I did some fall cleaning. Lo, and behold, I decided to watch the documentary, Hellbound?, written and directed by Canadian Christian writer Kevin Miller. From all that I had heard and read, it was supposed to be a worthwhile film, and maybe someday I will go back and finish. But just not this year. The movie was fine, I could see the direction it was going: BIG NINE-ELEVEN TWO THOUSAND AND ONE DRAMA! The Phelps and their hate speech where 99.99999999% of the people living in the world are going to burn in hell for all eternity! Mark Driscoll implying anyone who disagreed with him was not manly enough and kind of queer. So NOT authoritarian! Liar and heretic Ray Comfort even had an appearance.

Nope none of these persons were problematic enough to trigger me into watching something else. Then, Miller first started making claims like all religions are about narrative, and story is ooooh so important to what it means to be human. It’s a familiar argument, one that Brian McLaren was writing about in the ’90’s. You see, there are a variety of Christianities. There’s the fundamentalists who claim to take the Bible “literally” but never seriously. And there are also Christians who read Scripture as literature and somewhat more seriously. While the latter sounds better, at least the BIG OLE SCARY fundies are honest and forthright about the implications of their beliefs.

Then, Hellbound started interviewing the likes of Wm Paul Young and Frank Schaeffer. Throughout his few minutes, Schaeffer repeatedly referred to Evangelicals as Pharisees. This claim went unchallenged, and given the lack of racial diversity in the film (it’s a Christian documentary, so not surprising given the “nature” of the business). Frantz Fanon argues in his Black Skin, White Masks that once you find an anti-Semite, there’s not an anti-Black antagonist far behind. Part of my path down the narrow road of anti-racism was taking a Jewish-Studies course that coincided with a Black Church studies class on Exodus. It was there that I first learned of how problematic loosely calling others Pharisees was. Jesus and Paul were Pharisees,

Cover of "Black Skin, White Masks"

Cover of Black Skin, White Masks

Pharisees were some of the very first Christians in Acts, but in liberal and conservative Christianity, people continue a willful ignorance of the history of antiSemitism and anti-Judaism. I’m sorry, but the Pharisees are not the villains you make them out to be. That’s why it’s no surprise when in liberal “Christian novels,” such as Wm. Paul Young’s The Shack, anti-Judaism goes unchecked.

 

English: Black Buffy the vampire slayer TV ser...

English: Black Buffy the vampire slayer TV series logo. High resolution, please remember to resize for use. {| cellspacing=”0″ style=”min-width:40em; color:#000; background:#ddd; border:1px solid #bbb; margin:.1em;” class=”layouttemplate” | style=”width:1.2em;height:1.2em;padding:.2em” | 20px |link=|center | style=”font-size:.85em; padding:.2em; vertical-align:middle” |This vector image was created with Inkscape. |} Buffy the vampire slayer.svg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But I think that there is something that goes much deeper. At the heart of the problem is the notion of story. I have discussed on here before the problem of seeing everything as a story here before, as it relates to postcolonial criticism.

So last night, when I changed the show I was watching on Netflix to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I decided to watch the season 7 episode “Storyteller,” the story of Andrew who was shooting a documentary about Buffy, the slayer of vampires, and I found this relevant quote:

“Buffy: Stop! Stop telling stories. Life isn’t a story.
Andrew: Sorry. Sorry.
Buffy: Shut up. You always do this. You make everything into a story so no one’s responsible for anything because they’re just following a script.”- Storyteller, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 7, Episode 16.

This is exactly the problem with emergent dudebros. They do not have to take responsibility for the histories of biblical interpretations or practices there of. They can just call it “STORY” since it sounds so much nicer. No way should they be held accountable for the real, historical experiences of the oppressed because when it comes to the Grand Narrative, only an arbitrarily limited account provided by men from the majority culture.

Perhaps then this is why the story of the Hellmouth remains truer than that of Hellbound? .

HELLBOY

Hellboy (film)

Hellboy (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last night I decided to watch Guillermo Del Toro‘s HELLBOY (2004). It was a very likeable film, the dialogue and plot was predictable, but overall satisfactory.  The story starts with World War II, the Third Reich worked to gain victory through supernatural means, by calling forth the Devil’s son to bring about the Apocalypse. The United States Army found a baby demon before the Germans, and they named him, Hellboy.  Hellboy leads the Department of Paranormal Research and Defense along with pyrokinetic Liz Sherman and the oracle/merman Abe Sapien.  One of the curious things that I noticed were the prominence of religious references, particular Catholic symbolism.  I would compare Hellboy the movie version to a television show like CW’s Supernatural.  The idea that the arrival of Satan/Lucifer brings about a global disaster, an apocalypse is really a reversal of the “end times” we see in Scripture.  In the New Testament, Jesus comes back and arrives with a creation that is renewed, not one that is devastated.

English: Guillermo del Toro at the 2010 Comic ...

English: Guillermo del Toro at the 2010 Comic Con in San Diego (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Xavier on Hell

I came across this quote from Francis Xavier today, written in 1552,

“One of things that most of all pains and torments these Japanese is that we teach them that the prison of hell is irrevocably shut. For they grieve over the fate of their departed children, of their parents and relatives, and they often show their grief by their tears. So they ask us if there is any hope . . . and I am obliged to answer that there is absolutely none. The grief at this affects and torments them wonderfully; they almost pine away with sorrow. . . . They often ask if God cannot take their fathers out of hell, and why their punishment must never have an end. We gave them a satisfactory answer, but they did not cease to grieve over the misfortune of their relatives; and I can hardly restrain my tears sometimes at seeing men so dear to my heart suffer such intense pain about a thing which is already done with and can never be undone.”

So perhaps you believe in Hell. That is orthodox, surely. However, Xavier points out the horror of the way most of Christian America uses Hell as a weapon. To assert that Hell is real is one thing, to assert that there is no possibility of hope for friends and family members, children and parents, because they simply did not have the same opportunities, the same frames of mind, the same upbringing, the same education, the right church, or were simply born to early is cruel and mean. The love and faithfulness of God that we find in scripture is far more vast than any other descriptor. Is God all-powerful? Is God sovereign? Is God all-knowing? Is God Just? You may say yes to any of those, but if you take even a moment to compare those texts with the ones that speak of God’s lovingkindness, God’s mercy, God’s love, God’s faithfulness, it is clear that the attributes which would allow the Japanese of the 16th century to be hopeful about their loved ones far outweigh those which Xavier was taught in order to condemn them. Believe in Hell if you want. Believe that many people suffer infinite conscious torment for a limited amount of sinning. Believe that mental assent to 4 spiritual laws will keep you from it. But please, don’t be an ass and share the “good news” that someone they love is burning in Hell because you didn’t get there fast enough, or worse, because God (who is supposed to love them more than you) didn’t care enough about them to arrange the perfect set of circumstances that would enable them to accept him. “Gospel,” indeed.