Episode 19: Apocalypse Now

June 5, 2011

Featuring Matt Anderson and Ben De Bono

Ben and Matt take a look at the post apocalyptic genre, exploring the intersection between eschatology and sci-fi books and movies.

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5 comments on “Episode 19: Apocalypse Now

  1. Michael Oct 5, 2011

    Re: “Superman as a period piece” — The Dallas Theater Center did this last summer when they revived and revised the 1960s Superman Broadway musical. They retained most of the songs, but gave it an entirely new plot and book, by a real comic book writer. It was set in the 1940s, and it was fantastic! You can check out a good review of the show here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/04/theater/04superman.html. Alas, it seems that DC Comics is not going to allow this much new and improved version of the show be performed again — I don’t know why, it could bring the character to a whole new audience, and it’s really a great, solid show. Oh, well.

  2. Michael Oct 5, 2011

    Re: 7 as perfect number — It’s at least the days of creation, and thus leads to the seventh day being the Sabbath, so I don’t think it is completely extrabiblical. Also, John’s gospel has Jesus performing seven signs (I think), so at least John is one other biblical author reflecting that tradition.

  3. Michael Oct 5, 2011

    I think Ben’s definition of “post-apocaylptic” is a bit too narrow if it won’t admit “Firefly.” I see your point — namely, we don’t see a devastated Earth — but certainly the Browncoats’ society has been devastated. As far as Mal and his crew are concerned, the world has come to an end. Their position makes me think of the Jews’ position during the Babylonian Exile; and maybe some biblical literature from that era (I’m thinking especially of Ezekiel) could perhaps fairly be called “post-apocalyptic.” Babylon’s conquest of Judea, especially the destruction of the Temple, was an apocaylptic event: a catastrophe with revelatory qualities (since the Greek “apocalypse” means “revelation”). It revealed the people’s sin and also God’s justice and love.

    (On another point: WALL-E was boring? The first half hour was briliant! To my mind, it got boring once the dialogue and more conventional storytelling kicked in.)

  4. Good points, but I’d still exclude Firefly from the post-apocalyptic category. I can’t remember if I said this on the show (sorry if I’m repeating myself!) but Whedon’s inspiration for the series was the American Civil War, particularly Michael Shara’s book, The Killer Angels. The Battle of Serenity Valley is a parallel for Gettysburg. The Browncoats for the Confederacy in the sense that both sides are losers in a Civil War.

    I don’t think anyone would consider the post-Civil War South to be post-apocalyptic.

    I would argue that the reason the Babylonian Exile is different is because we’re given a behind the scenes look at what’s going on. We see God’s hand of judgment active in the experience. If we were to see the event purely historically, meaning without any insight into divine involvement, it wouldn’t have the same effect. From a historical perspective, civilizations being conquered were very common in the ancient world. Surely we can’t consider all of those events to be apocalyptic

    • Michael Oct 6, 2011

      “Surely we can’t consider all of those events to be apocalyptic” – Well, no, I suppose we can’t; but conquered civilizations can and do and did; and the conquered in this case, the Judeans, produced (as a divinely inspired response to their historical situation) some apocalyptic literature. It’s the very nature of apocalyptic literature to unveil spiritual realities “behind the scenes.” I do think, though, that maybe I too hastily equated apocalyptic with post-apocalyptic. Thanks for the response!

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