The Voices of Revelation

The conservative culture warriors like to howl about how television shows like Buffy and Charmed and movies like The Harry Potter series promote Pagan religion (specifically Wicca). Anyone who has a passing knowledge of modern Paganism however is quick to point out that these portrayals have far more to do with Samantha Stevens than Starhawk (or even Silver Ravenwolf).

But now the right has its very owned darkly-tinged religiously-themed dramatic miniseries ripped right from (or off if you prefer) the pages of Left Behind, The Gospel of John the Revelator, and a leaked Republican memo concerning a certain matter in Florida. The show? Revelations!

“Harvard professor Dr. Richard Massey, an astrophysicist whose certainty that all worldly events can be explained by Science, is challenged by a nun, Sister Josepha Montafiore, who leads him on a journey through the unfamiliar world of faith. Drawn together by personal tragedy, these unlikely partners — one who worships God and one who worships Science — are propelled into a deepening mystery, finding evidence that the world, as predicted by The Book of Revelation, has reached The End of Days.”

Buy hey! I loved The Exorcist! I’m also a fan of religiously themed movies Christian or otherwise. So what is the problem with a thriller where a nun and a skeptical doctor investigate signs of the end of the world? Some bloggers share their concerns and thoughts.

“NBC?s ‘Revelations’ aired tonight. The program immediately reminded me of the 1970s film the Omen. It turns out the same writer put pen to paper for both. Many Christian fundamentalists are lauding the show ? very loosely based on the biblical book Revelation (more fully know as The Revelation To John). God’s enemies in ‘Revelations’ are disbelievers and judges and state officials hoping to pull a brain dead girl off life support (see Terri Schiavo). Those behind the mini-series offer a traditional millennialist interpretation of the biblical text. The world is set to end and only true believers will survive the apocalypse. This view of Revelation ? re-enforced by NBC’s program ? has dangerous implications.”Chuck Currie, United Church of Christ Seminarian

“I didn’t particularly care for the show. It wasn’t “archetypal” in any kind of way; it felt instead stereotypical. Stereotypes happen when something archetypal or symbolic loses its “juice” and becomes reduced to an expected formula. In this case, everything feels set up – no surprises. Perhaps some of the reviewers of this series saw additional episodes and therefore can proclaim that there is a “spooky” “suspenseful” air about the show. I didn’t experience that…I didn?t find anything edgy in this show, nothing provocative that would reveal a new idea coming to the surface of cultural awareness. Perhaps I need to keep watching.”Maggie Macary, PhD.c, mythologist

Mother and organ donation advocate Moreena is hopping mad about the “vegetative” child (who speaks Latin) who is presented as ripe plucking for the evil doctors and organ harvesters!

“Here I am steaming and stewing again. I just watched the premiere of Revelations on NBC. And wouldn’t you know it? Organ donation came up again! Hooray for National Donate Life month! But, wait…What’s this? You mean, the transplant people are the bad guys? You mean, they’re fighting the Catholic Church? And, somehow, organ donation is being presented as antithetical to the Right to Life movement? And that’s when my head exploded.”

Avowed Communist Sunsara Taylor warns us as to the effects of shows like Revelations.

“The slick packaging and flashy ads are aimed at ‘softening up’ society to accept things they never would have before. They foster a hurtful morality that excuses any horrors done to ‘non-believers’ and fosters an airtight world-view that hardens itself to reason, facts, or rationality”

So is Revelations just a crass money-making scheme? A grab at the “Passion” dollar? Or does it point to something deeper, a realignment of values away from secular skepticism and a light touch concerning religion towards a decidedly Evangelical Christian perspective? Are we all taking it too seriously, or not seriously enough? One thing I do know and that is I doubt I will be hearing much from those critics who bashed shows like “Buffy” for “promoting religion” on television.

Jason Pitzl-Waters

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