The Lasting Damage of A Mythologized Christianity
Films like Breaking Dawn earn millions by constructing their stories off of the classic tension of Christian mythology. A more accurate view of Christian theology would not sustain the dramatic narrative of this Twilight series. It is, therefore, the Lie, this Christian Myth, that is startling in its global pervasiveness. The audience has to already embrace the God vs. Devil nonsense before the lights dim or none of these films work. Without even mentioning God or the Devil, the film series relies on both to forward their main conceit: the sexual allure of evil incarnate.
Now That We Know Better
When I was a kid, vampires were great fun. If there was a grainy
old Bela Lugosi flick on TV, I was sure to be watching. My
favorite vampire flicks were the Hammer films of the mid-1970’s
starring Christopher Lee as Dracula. Next to Lugosi, Lee’s was
the definitive blood sucker, a malevolent and thoroughly scary
individual the heroes tracked and battled at extreme peril. In
those days, there were rules. A vampire could not enter your
home uninvited. Defending yourself against Dracula was as simple
as keeping your windows and doors tightly shut. Although a
vampire could become mist and, presumably, come in under your
door or through your ventilation system, vampires were bound by
a chivalrous code which demanded they be welcomed into your
domain. This is, to a degree, how Satan works as well. Satan is
only as powerful as we make him. Horror flicks, books and games
with occult themes lay the foundation for an effective work.
Satan’s greatest strength is largely psychological, his warfare
takes place, for the most part, inside your head. He creates
fear, stress, anxiety. He create hatred, lust, idolatry. And,
like Drac, Satan has to be indulged. We are tempted many, many
times each day. It is our indulgence of temptation, answering
Satan’s ringing phone, which invites his effective work into our
lives. It is for this reasons that we should actively discourage
our children, our friends, from engaging in any recreation—even
harmless-seeming trick-or-treat stuff—which has occult themes.
Even the most benign of these “harmless” activities lays the
foundation for Satan’s effective work. Even denying Satan exists
is, ironically, an invitation for him to cause problems in your
Now that we know better, now that God has opened our eyes, now that we have tasted, for ourselves, His goodness and glimpsed, for ourselves, His righteousness, we need to leave Drac and the Wolfman and Frankenstein and all of that behind. Freddie and Jason and all his pals. Filling our minds with darkness, with principalities real or imagined which are diametrically opposed to God, which deny Jesus as Lord, is counterintuitive to a productive Christian life. It is spiritually unhealthy and spiritually reckless. These movies, this music, these books and games blaspheme God. They present themselves as harmless fun and simple entertainment, but they take our eye off of the ball and erode our faith.
The worst thing they do is present evil as the opposite of good, which it is not. They position the devil as the equal of God, which he is not. Such positioning is easy to do because most of us know little or nothing about who or what Satan actually is. All we know is the movies we’ve seen, the books we’ve read, all the stories, from childhood, of the epic struggle between right and wrong. I hear precious little preached in our churches that places Satan in the proper and truthful context of who he actually is: a rogue angel, a rebel, an outlaw. There is no struggle. Satan is in no way God’s equal. Satan is, as are we all, a created being. The creation can never become more powerful than the Creator. God is not powerless to stop him. With the merest gesture, God could eliminate evil, wiping Satan (and Dracula and all his buddies) from our collective memory. The reasons He chooses not to are complex and could take years of study to even begin to comprehend. The short answer is God cannot lie. Once His word is out there, it is a law even unto Him. For God to make things easy for us, to just wipe out temptation, evil and fear, would be for God to contradict Himself, which He cannot do. He has, instead, created a path for each one of us to move toward Him, a path evil is powerless against. We only give evil power when we stray from that path, when we start listening to the nonsense Satan routinely whispers into our ear.
Lugosi at the top of his game. He died broke, doing campy,
demeaning day work for psychotic schlock director Ed Wood.
The Target Audience
I’m proud to say I had absolutely no idea what Breaking Dawn
was. The latest chapter in what appears to be an awful, schlocky
Goth vampire yarn opened last week and made a gazillion dollars
over the weekend. I have absolutely no idea if black kids are
going to see this, since I’m straining my eyes trying to spot a
black face in the movie trailer, but I have hard data on several
preteen black girls who all but camped out at the movie theater
when Titanic—similarly bereft of any black talent at
all—was playing in theatres, little black girls lining up to
swoon over Leonardo DiCaprio. How much black money Breaking
Dawn is collecting this weekend will likely remain a
mystery. What is not a mystery is the worldwide fascination
young people have over this foolishness with vampires. For
reasons that pass my understanding, vampires have made a huge
comeback, starting perhaps with Anne Rice’s blockbuster series
The Vampire Chronicles. The old chivalrous rules
set—vampires could not come out in daylight, cannot stand the
sight of crucifixes, etc.—have apparently been done away with.
Christian ethics aside, I’m not sure why that’s fun. There is an
increasing trend, across many genres, to simply do away with the
rules. But rules create obstacles both the hero and villain must
overcome to achieve their goals. The fewer the obstacles, the
duller the plot. I haven’t seen any of these films, I am clearly
not their target audience, but from what I can see in clips and
trailers, this stuff just looks stupid to me. But all of this
neck-biting is a billion-dollar business. Meanwhile, movies
about God are practically nonexistent. I really don’t understand
this fascination with all things dark and evil. Why is evil sexy
and good—God—apparently not?
I’d imagine most preteens have this movie playing in their heads, this epic battle between good and evil, as if evil were in any way an equal (or in their minds, at least, a superior) force to good. As if God and Satan were somehow equals. This is the lasting damage of a mythologized Christianity, of Christianity By Assumption. Too many of our pastors assume their audience knows the nuts and bolts of Christian doctrine and, weary from 25 years of preaching every Sunday, their messages become increasingly esoteric. Like my musician friends who try and impress people with complex chord variations and inharmonics. The average church listener has no idea what a dissonant flatted third is. Their ears are not trained and they really, literally, cannot hear the nuances of this guy’s complex progressions. But he plays them anyway because he’s bored of simply playing the song simply and cleanly. That’s many of our pastors, off on some exegetical archeological dig, losing the audience whom they assume already know and understand and process basic doctrine. Most church goers know nothing, nothing at all, about even the most basic foundational doctrine. They’re just sitting there, nodding at this guy as he blathers on, but the foundation of their belief is an inch deep, if that.