Vincent Price is theologically significant. Price wore a devilish goatee that made him look like Satan. How do we know that’s what Satan looks like? We learned it from Vincent Price — and from a thousand other pop-culture and folk-culture figures preceding him. Price carries a pitchfork — a red one, of course. That tells the audience that he’s the devil. What does a pitchfork have to do with the devil? Simple: It’s what we always see him carrying in movies. The pitchfork simultaneously references those folk traditions and reinforces them for future audiences.[more inside]
But these pop-culture portrayals also reference and reinforce our “theology” of the devil. Sure, most Christians realize that the pitchfork and goatee don’t come from the Bible. But the devilish stuff that most Christians think does come from the Bible cannot be found there either. [Fred Clark, The Slacktivist]
For years, Fred "Slacktivist" Clark has been dissecting, page by page, the Left Behind series of Evangelical Christian potboilers. Clark, a Christian himself, goes far beyond merely mocking them but also analyzes the theology, philosophy, and politics underlying them. As an aside, he's looked at other Rapture narratives and is asking, "Why are Rapture stories always so dull?" To this end he examines The Missing Christians, a 50-minute 1952 movie about the Rapture, which is available to watch on YouTube. Clark warns: "This is far, far worse than you’re expecting even if you take into account that it will be far, far worse than you’re expecting." As usual, Clark goes beyond (but certainly by way of) just mocking the film to get at the core of what he argues the Rapture idea is really about, and why, despite the Apocalyptic material, these stories always end up so dull.
Part of the problem here, as in Left Behind, is that the “storytellers” of Evangel Films aren't nearly as interested in telling their story as they are in settling the score with their perceived enemies. These are the same enemies that haunt the sleep of Tim LaHaye — those sophisticated “liberal” Christians who refuse to concede the expertise of “Bible prophecy” experts. Just like Left Behind, The Missing Christians is a revenge fantasy in which those evil sophisticates are “proved” wrong and the righteous are proved right.(More Slacktivist on MetaFilter)
"In 1979, McDonald’s introduced the Happy Meal. Sometime after that, it was decided that the Bible teaches that human life begins at conception."
Fred Clark, previously in the blue for his excellent deconstruction of the Left Behind series and much more, has written a short history lesson on the Evangelical movement's surprisingly recent about-face on the subject of conception, abortion and the human soul. As he notes, "At some point between 1968 and 2012, the Bible began to say something different. That’s interesting."
Fred Clark posts at a blog called "Slacktivist", so he is often referred to by that name. But this left-wing Christian is far from a slacker. His blog is a powerful voice against the usual conservative Christian presence in America, and the best distillation of his strength is his series of posts analyzing the Left Behind novels of Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. Fred savages these books for their "bad writing and bad theology" but it's not the usual Internet snark; Fred has a larger mission here than just pointing and laughing. He just finished dissecting book two, Tribulation Force, so it's a great time to jump on if you already haven't. (He has promised that after a holiday break, he's going to do the Tribulation Force movie, and then on to book three.) [more inside]
Slacktivist has been discussed on the blue before. His epic deconstruction, interpretation, and at times even translation of the Left Behind book series started in October of 2003. Today, it has come to an end. In between, Slacktivist has explored the impact of the Left Behind series and the fundamentalist worldview on religion and the media, and even gone on to inspire Left Behind fanfic. Fred Clark, the Slacktivist himself, intends to continue his five year project with the Left Behind movie, followed by the second book, Tribulation Force.