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Posts Tagged ‘Revelation 21’

Mad Max: Fury Road

In Books, Movies and Television on June 17, 2015 at 6:41 am

I just got back from watching Mad Max: Fury Road [SPOILER ALERT]. It didn’t take me too long to wonder if I had made a mistake–it’s a bit over the top. The world into which we are dropped is pretty terrible–I expected it to be terrible, but not that gross. But the film makers are building upon so many other movies in this genre since the original post-apocalyptic Mad Max and it’s sequel, Road Warrior, that they obviously felt they needed to ratchet up the terribleness a notch or two. I can’t say that I ever got to the point where I felt all the dirt, defects, and disgusting were worth it, but the movie does make an pretty important and interesting religious statement. Mad Max? Religious? Yes, the terms hope, redemption and salvation are uttered by the characters and the story is built upon these religious ideas.

It’s an allegory. We live in a world that’s pretty horrible–scarcity, exploitation and religious fanaticism are the order of the day. At the top are the exploiters. Their power is maintained through a combination of withholding life giving water, and other physical necessities, occasionally offering a meager “gift” from their bounty and letting people fight each other for it, and through promises of rewards in the afterlife for loyalty and sacrifice in this world. These are the basic evils that concern your average middle class North American.

The allegory continues: Human beings have a longing for a better world–C. S. Lewis uses the German word Sehnsucht to describe this inherent “longing,” or “yearning” that results from knowing we live in a world that we know this isn’t the way it is supposed to be. Imperator Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron, is a character of Sehnsucht; her dissatisfaction with the world comes from a childhood memory of “The Green Place”–read, The Garden of Eden. It is her mission to get back to the green place with four beautiful women who have been used as breeders for the corrupt warlord of The Citadel.

It is interesting that where the Biblical narrative moves from a garden in Genesis to a city in The Book of Revelation, the story in the new Mad Max movie moves from city to garden. This reversal is central to the religious statement the film is making.

One of the things I like about this movie is that the women are actually heroic rather than passive victims waiting to be rescued by a man. This is also a reflection of a positive trend in our culture. There are two men that help out a lot, but the success and fulfillment of the women does not rest solely in the hands of the male heroes. Max and Furiosa are equally heroic and they even swap traditional gender roles; Furiosa is the better shot, where Max is the healer.  The rest of the band of heroes are comprised of young and beautiful, but also capable, girls and the old, sandy, wizened, desert women which are also formidable in their fight against the exclusively male band of evil guys.

Firiosa is going to lead her crew, sans Max, across the salt flats where they hope they can find a place to begin life again and perhaps plant the invaluable seeds that they carry. They are going to, allegorically, re-establish the Garden, but, in the context of the movie, the garden is blended into the future hope of Heaven. Max turns them from this goal–interestingly, it’s not certain that this better world, “heaven,” doesn’t exist, but they do know that The Citadel certainly has enough water to begin again. They turn toward certainty–and it is a certainty. As movie goers, we know that some of them will make it and succeed in creating, if not Heaven, at least a garden, on earth.

And that’s exactly what happens.

It is an allegory that describes how a lot of people in our culture understand hope, redemption and salvation. Our world has some big problems and we need salvation from the rich or powerful or religious exploiters if we are going to have a better world. Our redemption will not, likely, come from an afterlife–our only hope is to do something for the here and now. This will take courage and sacrifice (and men and women working together), but we just might have a chance if we get out from under the control of the 1% and the religious leaders who exploit the rest of us for their own personal gain.

Although many found this movie entertaining, I’m afraid they won’t find it satisfying. The Sehnsucht we are experiencing will not be satisfied by crawling out from under the thumbs of the exploiters. Nor will it result from the flight back to the Garden. Our true longings will only be satisfied when we live in the city for which we were made–the City described in Revelation 21.

Is God an Environmentalist?

In Christ and Culture, Rants, Worldview on July 13, 2013 at 9:38 pm

EnvironmentalismAt school, I occasionally I find an empty pop can in the garbage.  This is particularly distressing to me when there is a recycle bin right next to the garbage can.  This leads to an inevitable rant, albeit brief, on the importance of recycling.  Following one such outburst, that moved quickly from beverage containers to SUVs, a student asked, “Why recycle if God is going to destroy  this world and then make ‘all things new?'”

“Because he’s not,” I said.   

In Genesis 1, God declares creation to be “good” six times and on the final day, it’s “very good.”   The created goodness of the world is a consistent theme in the Bible– “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it” (Psalm 24). 

God creates this beautiful and wonderful creation.  He loves it.

 

This is why Satan deliberately sets out to ruin it.

 In Paradise Lost he says,

To do ought good never will be our task,

But ever to do ill our sole delight, [ 160 ]

As being the contrary to his high will

Whom we resist. (159-162)

Because God loves it, Satan delights in its destruction.

So let’s be clear–there is a force in the universe that loves the created world that wants to see it flourish, and another force bent on destroying it.   God is not going to destroy this world–to do that, he’d be joining the other team.

God’s love for creation as declared in the beginning, is consistent with what is presented in the end. 

In Revelation 21 John describes the vision given him by Jesus at the end of time.

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.’ (Revelation 21: 2-3)

The end, fits the beginning.  Because he loves this world, he is pleased to come live in it.  Heaven–God’s very presence–comes down.  He comes down to where we are, to be with us.  In His creation.  This was his intention for the Creation, and it how it will be in the end.  Or, more accurately, at the new beginning.

God says in Revelation 21:5, “Behold, I am making all things new.”  Darrel Johnson points out that God does not say, “Behold, I am making all new things,” but “all things new.”  God is not destroying the earth, but restoring it.

So what do we do in the mean time?  The task of humanity is to live in accordance with his purposes.  Notice again, Revelation 21:5.  It doesn’t say, I will make all things new.  It’s “I am making all things new.” 

How is God making all things new?  It began with Christ’s death and resurrection–he died, not just to redeem people, but all of creation.  Colosians 1:19-20 says, “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”

Christ’s work continues through his people, the church, until he comes again.

There are two forces at work in the world–one that would destroy the creation and one that would see it flourish.

So, those who wish to live and work in accordance with God’s purposes will start by taking recycling very seriously. 

And that will be just the beginning.