Friday, June 13, 2014

"Left Behind"

"The missionaries tell us we will be left behind

Been left behind a thousand times, a thousand times."  --Arcade Fire

I finally sat down with Bernard (Ghost Dogg) and watched the first of film in the Left Behind series.

As I've conjectured, it was predictably hilarious.  Kirk Cameron turned in a performance that was supposed to make somebody somewhere believe that he was "action journalist" Buck Williams where he pledges to "drive it to the bone" on any story.  Speaking of pulpish character names, I need to give a tip that you can take with you throughout life.  If you run into a guy named "Nicolae Carpathia" it's a pretty good bet that he'll be an antagonist in your own story.

But something really bothered me about the film and it wasn't just the craft (or lack thereof).

It was the attitude.

Only in my most dour and gothy moments of melancholia have I actively longed for the apocalypse.  For an idea of what I mean by that description, just listen to Morrissey's "Every Day is like Sunday."  "Come armageddon, come armageddon, nuclear war."  As I've mentioned many times, nuclear war has and still does scare me.  That's why I chose the mushroom cloud pic for this post.

Yet the fandom that sprang up around the Left Behind series of books and movies seems to anticipate the end of all that is with a certain amount of glee.  They might even see themselves as attempting to manifest it.  After all, only the most righteous, only the most worthy devotees, only the real Christian believers who have rationalized away any sense of guilt and emboldened themselves with a special place in creation via faith alone will be raptured up and saved.  Everybody else will pay for their transgressions and infidelity by becoming ambulant wretches muddling about in the aftermath.  It's the ultimate "I'm better than you, so nyahhh."

Funny how that came about from a religion that is supposedly built on love and compassion.

Funny how often that dichotomy becomes apparent in the members of the faith.

I will check myself, however, from pointing too many fingers.  It's been argued that I and other transhumanists have our own sense of rapture.  "Transhuman technology will (truly) arrive, we'll leave our human forms behind, and we will find ourselves in a much better world."  I don't mean to speak for all transhumanists.  Not in any sense.  It's my own wishful thinking sometimes and perhaps that of others as well.  Inherent within it is also a sense that those who opposed such a merger with technology will not be as well off.  I confess that makes me uneasy.  At its root, it may not be all that dissimilar from the notion that "One day, God will come down and make everything right."

That line of quasi-dogmatic, judgmental rhetoric should make anybody queasy.

So if you're looking forward to the End Times and the fact that you will be saved while others are punished, you may need to re-evaluate your sense of ethics.  Reminds me of what Trent says.  "Down on your knees or be left behind."  Conversion by the sword, anyone?

Then again, as the immanently quotable Bernard Sell says: "Ha!  Joke's on them!  I'm the coolest guy around."

"If you're looking for hell, just try looking inside
If you want to be righteous, if you want to be righteous

Get in line"  --Arcade Fire

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