Thursday, July 27, 2006

TV's Screwed Up Angelology:
FALLEN and the Absent Lord

Carmen of IN THE OPEN SPACE: GOD & CULTURE (a wonderful blog you should be reading regularly) has posted on FALLEN, the ABC TV Family pilot (for a planned 2007 mini-series) that aired Tuesday night. Catholic Online calls "'Smallville' for the Christian set," because it's about a teen coming to terms with his other-than-mere-human identity and special powers.

The story lowdown: There's this fallen angel named Zeke who goes about in the guise of a hobo. And there's this kid named Aaron, Nephilim (half-human, half-fallen-angel) who is Zeke's hope for redemption, cause Aaron's the "chosen one" whose coming has been foretold, the savior of the fallen angels. The backdrop is a big heavenly brouhaha over what to do with the Nephilim, protect or eradicate the "abominations."

So far, there's nothing inherently fresh or unique. We've seen angels in the guise of wayfarers and regular joes before. We've had a long tradition of chosen ones who will save. (One of my fave storylines, so I ain't knocking it. I do after all belive in the Chosen One who does save.)

I might even enjoy the show on some levels. (I like Tom Skerritt's acting, for one.)

But, because Christianity and traditional church faith (even debated issues such as who the Nephilim actually were) seems to spook the heck outta TV and film folks (when they're not actively ridiculing us), when I first heard about this program, I assumed it would not bother to have Biblically valid elements.

This suspicion of mine ties in with this observation from Catholic Online's article:

According to Catholic Online, “the program's pop-culture theology bears little in common with the Christian understanding of angels. Apart from the Judeo-Christian concept of a primal angelic rebellion (and the crossbreeding conceit culled from Chapter 6, Verses 1 and 2, of Genesis), the story makes no references to specific faith traditions, opting instead for a generalized spirituality epitomized by New Agey dialogue such as ‘God is such a limiting term.’” According to the Pittsburg Post Gazette, “executive producer Pete Donaldson said the goal was to make the story ‘more secular,’ so there's no explanation of where God stands on the battle between the angels.”

A secular story about ANGELS. Hmmmm.

God is not a limiting term. He's a limiting Lord--do this, do not do this, be so, do not be so-- and that's really what a lot of folks don't like. So, get rid of God resembling the real God and fashion one unto your own self-satisfied image.

Secular angels. Well, we've had secular demons:

Most of you know I'm a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel fan. But I have to admit that it ticked me off that this fantasy Earth of Whedon's, a wonderful world full of exciting adventures and complex people, nevertheless exiles God. Oh, you have little relics of His power--holy water and the crucifix are efficacious against evil. But the reason for their efficacy is erased. While demons and demi-gods are abundant, God and Christ and the Spirit are not to be seen as active in the spiritual battle, except in symbols. Ministers and priests are inneffectual. Church-goers are cardboard, part of the set design now and then. Even prayer--so common an act here in the US and worldwide, so common in various faith traditions--is banished in favor of pep talks. It's beautiful to be gay in Whedon's Buffy World, but it's not okay to be a real Christian. But sure, wear the cross.

(I will say that one of the loveliest "Riley" moments was when he went to church cause he goes to church, not cause he heard of vampires on rampage there. We don't see him ACT like a believer in other areas--he boffs Buffy guiltlessly, he gets sucked off by a vampiress for kicks--but he is a nice, clean-cut, patriotic sort of fella, so I guess it was convenient to have him be a Sunday-go-to-church dude for one episode. Good excuse to have him on the spot. Let's not bother with making him a person of faith in other areas, noooooo.)

So, FALLEN seems to have a world populated by angel and angelic half-breeds, but no God or Christ.

It seems fitting for our degenerate, apostate times (as all times have been degenerate, I freely use the term): We don't want you God. Your rules bug us. Your judgment irks us. Your insistence on virtue and holiness offends us. And Christ, your blood fetish is tiresome. Go way. Leave us be. Stay out of our business. We just wanna have fun and party like it's 2099.

But hey, angels and demons. Cool. Can we keep them as toys?

Last time I checked, people tended to poop their pants when angels showed up. They couldn't get on their knees fast enough.

Biblical angels are not like those ridiculous, cupidic putti that you find on tacky frames and Victoriana sites. Lawdy, but I loathe putti. (This is a hint never to ever, ever send me a putti card or a putti ornament or a putti anything.) They don't inspire folks to just hang and have a beer. No, they inspire folks to perspire and wanna pass out or go mute or babble.

If FALLEN gives us angels with more gravitas and striking-of-the-fear-of-God about them--and it seems like it might from what I've read--that would be another thing in its favor.

Still, why have angels if you banish the Lord who created angels? Could as easily been an alien or a fairy or an elf or a "lost race." I just don't get having angels or demons and making God moot, except for it reflecting the internal desire not to have God exist at all.

This is my prayer today: Send down angels, real angels, God, and manifest them to the skeptical and scoffing. Bless more people with awe and poopy pants.

For your glory. Amen.


Elliot said...

Just wait till you read 'Declare!'

Mirtika said...

I bought it. From your blog link. Oh, man, get your review up!