Escape from Hell, Part 2

Eric drives off, leaving his father in the dust.  I know Eric will pay dearly for not honoring his father, but YOU GO, ERIC.

Oh, he goes…to his mom’s house.

“You’ll never guess who I ran into tonight”

“Your father.”

“How did you know?”

“Because he was here a couple of weeks ago asking about you, and he said he needed to see you.”

“And you told him where I was?”

“Yes, I did.”

Oh, well I can see why you would…

Wait, WUT???

So you just told the guy who abandoned your son where your son WORKED, and it didn’t even cross your mind to ASK IF THIS WAS OKAY WITH YOUR SON???

And this happened WEEKS AGO????

Lady, you suck.

Yep, that’s right—sadly for Eric, his mom is a Christian, which means that she has blithely accepted her ex-husband back into her life, AND revealed the workplace of their son.

Yanno, there are plenty of people in the world who wouldn’t want their parents stalking their places of employment even if said parents aren’t abusive alcoholics.

Eric is understandably miffed, and reminds Mom of “what he did to you…what he did to us,” and Mom doesn’t deny this.  Indeed, Dad drove her into bankruptcy.

The beauty part is, Mom has since married a guy who helped her out of that situation, and Mom (and presumably Step-Dad) now live in a very nice house.  Step-Dad sounds like an awesome guy, especially since it is implied (though not stated outright) that he helped put Eric through college and medical school.  Sadly, we never meet this dude, perhaps because he might not be so keen on his wife having much contact with the newly-reformed ex.

Eric, no fool, zeroes in on the crux of the matter: Mom is a Christian, Dad is a manipulative jerk, all he has to do is say he’s a Christian and Mom will buy it.  Eric makes a damn fine point here, but of course, Mom knows that this time it’s “different.”

Eric protests some more, and Mom starts to get angry with him.  Huh, it’s almost as though Eric and his mom had a great relationship before his manipulative, abusive jerk of a father re-entered the picture, and now he’s pitting them against each other and they’re letting him do it, because he’s an ass who ruins everything he touches.

Almost.

Because he’s a Christian, and that would never happen when a Christian is involved.

“I had to stop and remind myself every five minutes that God has forgiven him, and I have to find the grace to forgive him, too.”

Grammar Nazi: I just got whiplash from those tense changes.

Hey, if that’s what you want to do, then fine.  But isn’t it funny, lady, how you didn’t find it in your heart to forgive him when he was a heathen, but you do now that he shares your religion?

Funny, that.

Eric, still fuming, just shakes his head and leaves.

Um, YEAH.  Mom owes him a huge apology for revealing his whereabouts to Dad and NOT EVEN WARNING HIM.  Seriously, what is wrong with this woman???

Yanno, it occurs to me, as I sit here nomming my half-price chocolate cross, that atheists will never be able to give religion a worse name than actual religious people do, at least while they’re making decisions like that.

We cut to Marissa meeting with Garrison.  She tells him about her near-death experience research and wants to ask him about it, but Garrison pleads that he doesn’t feel well.  (Indeed, he can barely speak.)  But Marissa will not be dissuaded by the heart patient who just wants to be left alone to rest:

“Mr. Garrison, I believe your experience can help a lot of people face the next life.”

Ah, good thing she’s impartial and also that she doesn’t want to inconvenience terminally ill patients, isn’t it?

Garrison pleads off again, and Marissa very reluctantly leaves him the frak ALONE.

DAMN these selfish patients, always delaying her research.  Ooooo, I’m tired, I’m in pain, I just want to spend time with my family…they never stop whining, do they?

Apparently, Marissa’s job is grief counselor, because Carl and Eric inform Mrs. Garrison that her husband won’t survive the wait for a transplant, and they leave her to Marissa’s huggy care.  (Um, some people aren’t huggers (at least not with strangers), Marissa.  Just sayin’.)

Later, Carl is in a damn fine mood because he just got paid and also none of his patients have died recently, so he tries to set up Eric with Marissa.

Eric asks her to lunch, Marissa doubles down and turns it into a dinner date, and the exchange is actually not painful at all.  I like it because the simply exchange just seems more like what reasonable adults usually do:

“Wanna go out?”

“Yes, I would.”

Yanno, like that.  It’s not always wacky and complicated.

Later that evening, we see that Eric lives in a cute little farmhouse.  As he’s freshening up for dinner, there is a knock at the door.

IT’S HIS FATHER BECAUSE I GUESS IT WASN’T ENOUGH FOR MOM TO REVEAL WHERE ERIC WORKS, SHE ALSO HAD TO TELL DAD WHERE ERIC LIVES.  GAH!!!

Eric tries to slam the door in Dad’s face, and Dad stops him.  (Jerk!)

“Please don’t shut the door in my face.”

“Then you may want to stand back a couple of feet.”

NATHAN FILLION. NEVER CHANGE.

THAT WAS AWESOME!

Unfortunately, the movie will not allow heathen Eric to get the best of Good (New) Christian Dad, so Dad gets to plead his case.

Dad’s position on the issue of his reappearance in Eric’s life is just astonishing, so I’ll let him speak for himself:

“Look, this isn’t easy for me.  I know what I’ve done to you and your mother.  You don’t know how hard it is for me to come and face you.”

Huh.  Gee, Dad, it’s almost as if your entire focus is on your feelings and how hard this is for you and you know what I’m missing, here?

The words I AM SORRY or I KNOW HOW HARD THIS MUST BE FOR YOU

Eric’s response is priceless, and I only wish that I didn’t know that he will be shown to be so MEAN to his poor, innocent, abusive, abandoning dad:

“Is this some kind of apology tour?  Look, I’m not going to lend you my car or give you some money.  I’m not going to give you a place to sleep, so is there anything else you need?”

“Your forgiveness.”

“It’ll be a cold day in hell before that happens.”

Then ERIC says, “Sorry.”  He looks all sad and says he is sorry he can’t forgive his father.

WHAT ARE YOU SORRY FOR ERIC???  YOU DID NOTHING WRONG!!!

Dad wanders off and Eric finally gets to shut the door and he leans against it and cries and I actually feel bad for him.

I’m sure I feel worse for him than the movie does.  Cold-hearted unforgiving heathen.

It sucks for Eric that after all that, it’s time for his hot date with Marissa.

OH THANKS DAD FOR RUINING DATE NIGHT.  THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS.

And the bad news just keeps on piling up for Eric: all Marissa wants to do on their date is talk shop.  We discover that Marissa doesn’t believe in Hell, but does believe in Heaven, and just knows that people would fear death less and have an easier time with grief if they knew for a fact that Heaven was real.

You know, just like Christians always die peacefully, while other people have panic attacks.

(Seriously, she actually says this.)

(Major research fail.  I have seen non-Christians die, and with dignity and courage that I wish everyone could have.  Marissa needs to get out more.)

But at least she’s no RTC:

“I might not believe in Jesus, but I do believe in the power of faith.”

So, after a fancy dinner for two at a swank local bistro, they head off for a sexy night of fun and sexyness…

Or not.  They go to Marissa’s office.  Eric is newly-psyched by Marissa’s research, because he thinks it might help disprove Hospital Reverend’s ideas about Hell.  (The fact that Eric might also have some residual anger at both of his parents is not mentioned, but I’m kinda feeling that.)

That’s Marissa.  Question for the straight single guys out there: if you had a chance to hit that,
would you really choose instead to watch home movies of strangers sitting on couches and talking about the Sliders tunnel?

They watch a movie where a blind woman talks about her experience being hit by a truck and having a NDE.  She goes through the Sliders tunnel, an angel tells her that it is not yet her time, and she has to go back.  Eric is pretty suspicious of the whole thing until Marissa tells him that the woman has been blind since birth, and thus that she couldn’t possibly say that she saw anything in her NDE.

Eric remains unconvinced, pointing out (correctly) that this is all anecdotal and there is no control.  AND MARISSA AGREES.  But…

“Every researcher has her little secrets.”

Marissa’s secret, of course, is the sign on the hospital roof.

By the way, I’ve noticed something: angels in Christian movies SUCK.  Seriously, these guys are God’s chosen emissaries??

I am not impressed.

I suppose it’s a good thing that Eric and Marissa watched NDE videos instead of doing the horizontal rumba, because it would have been really awkward to wake up the next morning and have the snugglyness ruined by the news that Eric’s dad was found dead in his motel room.  (Sitting up in bed and reading his Bible, natch.  Because that is the only pasttime Christians have.)

Eric heads back to Marissa’s office for some grief counseling, and she tells him that he is grieving the loss of a relationship with his father, not just the loss of Dad.  Eric has a flashback within a flashback, and we see that Eric and Dad used to have a good relationship before Dad abandoned him and forced his ex-wife to declare bankruptcy.

Also, he had a bitchin’ pornstache:

And the bad news just keeps on coming: both Eric and Marissa are beeped to come to the deathbed of Garrison.

Marissa tells Mrs. Garrison that her husband is “struggling…holding on for your sake” and that she needs to tell him to go towards the light.

REALLY???  GEEZ, LADY, LAY OFF!!!

So she does, and little Lauren tells him that she will take care of her mom for him.  Which is super-sweet, though I have strong reservations about such a young child (Lauren is maybe ten or eleven) being there when her father dies.

Eric is openly crying, which is actually a nice bit of character development as he displaces his grief over his own father’s death onto the death of a good father whom he barely knows.

Garrison dies with a huge gasp and “uhhhh” which (again) I would think would be very upsetting to a child, but Lauren takes it in stride (“Bye, Daddy.”)

Garrison heads back into the Sliders tunnel, and he’s quite psyched until the fireballs start zooming past him.

Yep, despite being a loving and devoted husband and father, Garrison was NOT A CHRISTIAN, and thus careens down the tunnel INTO HELL TO BE TORTURED FOREVER.

“He’s at peace now.”

OH, IF ONLY YOU KNEW, MARISSA

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Posted on April 14, 2012, in Escape from Hell, Movies. Bookmark the permalink. 49 Comments.

  1. …you know, in any other movie sending a good man to hell would be seen as a bad thing. The ones that show all atheists as dicks and all Christians as saints are at least trying to pack in some morality with the magic words, even if they’re lying and innaccurate.

    Funny how we never see the (purposefully written as) asshole Christians getting sent to heaven. Because good people getting bad things is justice, bad people getting good things is just wrong.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      …you know, in any other movie sending a good man to hell would be seen as a bad thing. The ones that show all atheists as dicks and all Christians as saints are at least trying to pack in some morality with the magic words, even if they’re lying and innaccurate.

      I take it as just a very clunky way to reassure the Church Lady audience that “You, Dear Reader/Viewer, Are RIGHT.” That no matter what, “You, Dear Reader/Viewer” will be one of the WINNERS. It’s an attempt at reassurance (and the secret to Jerry Jenkins’ bestseller status), but a very dishonest and nasty way of going about it.

      It’s like the RTC Rapture anthem, “I Wish We’d All Been Ready” (which coined the phrase “Left Behind” back in the Seventies). I’ve got an old Larry Norman LP with his original release of it. And Larry Norman wrote and sang it as a Tragic Lament, something that’s largely lost in the RTC context where you hear it sung these days. (But then, others have written that the Jewish and Christian tradition of Lamentation is lost among the Name-it-and-Claim-It God’s Speshul Pets RTC culture warriors of today).

  2. Fuck, really? I mean, yeah, I know that’s what the RTCs believe, but…. really? I mean, I’ve been with Fred Clark every step of the way through slacktivist, I’ve read your entire Soon deconstruction so far and some of the movies and stuff… really?

    Fuuuuck. What an evil belief structure. You hit it on the nose when you said that these sorts of Christians give their entire faith, and the majority of decent folks, a bad, bad rep to live down. Reminds me distinctly of going to great-grandma’s funeral and having the preacher single out my family unit for proselytizing right next to her cold body because, well, he knew damn well that was the only time he was going to get me within earshot. Something struck me so ghoulish and offensive about that, and knowing that great-gran would have wanted him to do that, a thousand percent, only makes it so much worse.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Reminds me distinctly of going to great-grandma’s funeral and having the preacher single out my family unit for proselytizing right next to her cold body because, well, he knew damn well that was the only time he was going to get me within earshot. Something struck me so ghoulish and offensive about that, and knowing that great-gran would have wanted him to do that, a thousand percent, only makes it so much worse.

      Same thing happened at my mother’s funeral in ’75, and Chaplain Mike over at Internet Monk devoted an entire posting to the phenomenon some months ago. The consensus was it’s usually more clueless than “ghoulish and offensive” — either the preacher only has ONE sermon he knows how to preach (and for RTCs that’s always heavy-duty Salvation Altar Call) or he’s got a bad case of tunnel vision and “Wretched Urgency”.

      Thirty years after Mom’s funeral, I can shake my head and go “What Were They Thinking?” However, it wasn’t very funny at the time.

  3. Headless Unicorn Guy

    We discover that Marissa doesn’t believe in Hell, but does believe in Heaven, and just knows that people would fear death less and have an easier time with grief if they knew for a fact that Heaven was real.

    Okay, under RTC conventions this paints Marissa as either The Bad Guy (False Teacher sub-type) or Greatly Decieived (with overtones of the Shirley Mac Laine set).

    You know, just like Christians always die peacefully, while other people have panic attacks.

    (Seriously, she actually says this.)

    (Major research fail. I have seen non-Christians die, and with dignity and courage that I wish everyone could have. Marissa needs to get out more.)

    Christians can die peacefully or in great suffering (as did Internet Monk two years ago, or my mother 33 years ago — cancer sucks) or with panic attacks. So can non-Christians. It’s more a factor of the individual than the belief system (though someone with an assurance of an afterlife WOULD have a better chance of going peacefully), and whatever happens afterwards may not necessarily correlate.

    That said, the idea that “Christians always die peacefully, while Heathens have panic attacks” IS a common folk belief among RTCs. I’ve heard it several times. You do find that folk belief among other Christians, but not at the same frequency or intensity you do among Evangelicals/RTCs.

    That’s Marissa. Question for the straight single guys out there: if you had a chance to hit that, would you really choose instead to watch home movies of strangers sitting on couches and talking about the Sliders tunnel?

    I keep noticing something odd about Marissa’s face. It seems “mismatched”. It’s like the top half of her face (counting from the level of her nose-tip) is proportionally larger than the bottom half.

    Marissa’s secret, of course, is the sign on the hospital roof.

    That is actually kind of clever, and explains why there’s a sign with regularly-changed random phrases on the hospital roof, visible only from above. It’s her NDE/OOBE research setup, which the rescusitated patient would not know about.

    By the way, I’ve noticed something: angels in Christian movies SUCK. Seriously, these guys are God’s chosen emissaries??

    Relax, Ruby. RTC Angel Encounters follow a distinct formula and their appearances are very unimaginative and conventional, but at least they’re not Putti (those little infants with Scootaloo-size winglets).

    But Conventional Christian fiction and movies in general are infamous for failures of imagination, completely neglecting the power of mythic imagery. (Being brony, I’d probably ring in something on the order of Princess Celestia, a winged unicorn seven feet tall and shooting sunbeams, instead of a skinny guy in a white mantle.)

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Another thing about Angels, Ruby. In the original language, the word “Cherub” is closely related to the word for “Gryphon”. Maybe instead of skinny guy in shining white robe, the angels in the original sources would instead have appeared as magnificent Gryphons?

      (Though with Gryphon Vulture heads instead of Eagles. To the ancient Jews, the Gryphon Vulture, not the Eagle, was the King of Birds. Most references to it were changed to Eagles in translation, as to Europeans the Eagle was King of Birds.)

  4. That NDE video Marissa shows to Ericsounds a lot like this one. It’s not terribly convincing – the woman says she’s been blind since birth with no experience at all of sight, but nevertheless claims to have ‘seen’ birds and trees during her NDE. So how did she recognise them?
    But I can believe she ‘saw’ a bright light. Even if her eyes are totally non-functioning, she would still have most of the neural equipment needed for sight It’s quite feasible that the lack of oxygen and other trauma that produces an out-of-body experience would also have stimulated her visual cortex, giving her the experience of seeing light. If Marissa had medical training, she’d realize that.

    • Marissa’s training is a bit of a mystery. She is referred to as “doctor,” but , IIRC, it is not stated whether that means M.D. or Ph.D. (say, in psychology, which I suppose would make sense for the hospital’s grief counselor).

    • Not necessarily. People that you’d think would know better often suspend pretty much all critical and skeptical thinking when it comes to NDE stories – just look at all the people who ate up Colton Burpo’s story despite the fact that the eschatology he describes bears very little resemblance to anything described in the Bible, even to the point of flat-out contradicting it.

      • I did a little reading about Colton Burpo since what you said regarding the eschatology he talks about piqued my interest. I wasn’t able to find anything about said eschatology outside of a rather ominous mention that “the final battle is coming” — could you point me to a page that talks about this? — but I did find a critique of his experience from a (very) Christian writer who was extremely critical and doubtful of it.

        Unfortunately, American Evangelical culture eats this stuff up like toast and jam, to the point where if they can suppress criticism for a few months, it passes into “common knowledge” and at that point you can’t pry it out of the memespace with a crowbar.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy

          Colton Burpo is only the latest in the “Near-Death Glimpses of Heaven” Christian sub-genre, the Christianese form of “Beyond and Back”. I read a few of these in the Seventies, during my time in-country, and everything I’ve heard of Colton Burpo’s story fits the formula.

          One I remember from the Seventies was by an older man (presumably in his 50s or 60s) who had a Heaven-trip NDE after some sort of serious accident. The parts I remember was him being dressed in a Peter Pan nightgown, lacking any external genitalia, and God speaking to him directly similar to a Soon skullphone. And it involved eschatology — he claimed God said directly to him “You will live to see My Second Coming”. This was in the 1970s; it is now 2012; if this guy is still alive, he would be in his nineties or so. Reason I’m pointing this out is End Time Prophecies seem to be part of the Christian NDE genre, and always “Soon”.

          But that’s not the WEIRDEST “Glimpse of Heaven” I ran into back then. Google the name “Percy Collet” sometime; this guy had an alleged, very detailed (and very bizarre to absurd) vision of Heaven which he recorded on a tape series. I think it comes up somewhere on the Web when you Google the name.

  5. Being mainly B in the QUILTBAG list, I would say that Marissa is quite attractive. 🙂

    As for Eric’s dad? Holy geez, what a dick! And on top of that, I bet Eric will now get to suffer in hell because he wasn’t ~sufficiently forgiving~. (>_<)

    • That seems to be the case. 😦 Seriously, you could be Ed Gein but if you go up to an altar call and profess enough sincerity, all seems to be forgiven for at least a subset of American evangelicalism.

      That being said, that picture of Ed’s dad has the sad basset-hound look down pat. =)

  6. Oooh, oooh, is the thing brought back from hell Garrison? Who’s angry ’cause he “let go” only to end up there, so now he’s set on some sort of bizarre ironic vengeance?

    • That is an AMAZING idea.

      Sadly, no.

    • That would indeed be awesome. But we couldn’t have that. If that filthy, repugnant loving atheist father is allowed to escape his eternal tornment, then there is no justice and life is pointless.

      Or at least the lives as RTC live them are pointless. Same difference, who else’s life matters.

      On a side not:
      I,I “I had to stop and remind myself every five minutes that God has forgiven him, and I have to find the grace to forgive him, too.”
      Wow, I didn’t expect this litteral a paraphrase of the exact thing that bothered me about RTC attitudes.

  7. Grammar Police

    I can’t help being impressed by the movie’s portrayal of nonChristians. Or rather, of Eric the nonChristian. He’s a well-rounded character with understandable motives and complex feelings. His arguments are logical and based in reason.

    Meanwhile, the Christians (Eric’s parents) are idiots and/or jerks, AND they get called out on their behavior.

    . . . . my gosh, you don’t actually think this was meant as a spoof of a Christian film and the Christians missed the sarcasm entirely?!

    . . .

    Nah. The screenwriter probably just didn’t realize how a good a job she/he was doing in portraying The Convert To Be as a human being, pre-Conversion.

    • It is impressive, yes. Thanks to Jenkins we’re used to RTC heroes being horrible people. But Jenkins at least tried to compensate by making his unsaved characters kick every puppy they came across. But that’s not happening here. All the heathens are actually very nice people. Even when Eric is oh so mean to his father, the movie kindly tells us why he feels that way.

      I’m reminded of the Chick Tract with the two missionaries and the ex-con. The missionaries go to hell because they only saved the lives of thousands of Africans, while the con gets to heaven because he saved the soul of one person. That was also a dick move, but I think Chick actually put it in BECAUSE he realizes most people would side with the missionaries. And he wanted to warn those people that, no, being nice just gets you send to hell.

      Could that be the case here? Could they be kindly characterizing the atheists kindly so the unsaved can identify with them, and warn them that they still will go to hell? Of course, if all they want is to honestly spread this warning, they have another point to defend: How the fuck does this make God ‘good’?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Or rather, of Eric the nonChristian. He’s a well-rounded character with understandable motives and complex feelings. His arguments are logical and based in reason.

      I think that’s because he Says the Magic Words at the Altar Call Ending. Since he’s predestined to become an RTC at the end, you can’t show him acting Too Heathen. Might offend the target audience of Church Ladies wanting to be reassured They Are Right.

      Remember Cameron “Buck” Williams from Left Behind? Thirty-something CELEBRITY jet-set journalist/Author Self-Insert? Living Completely Heathen in the Celebrity Jet Set, yet was still a Virgin at 30-something?

  8. I wonder what an RTC movie would do with a wife and mother who abandoned her family the way Eric’s asshole dad did. Somehow I don’t see things playing out the same way.

  9. Wait, I’m a little confused… So when this guy almost died, he went to heaven, because he didn’t want to come back, but when he actually died, he went to Hell? Why? Or is it like in the South Park movie, he ascends all the way there, and then they say “Not!” And send him to Hell? But Eric did go to Hell when he had his NDE… Am I getting confused, or is there a plot hole here?

    • He didn’t get all the way to Heaven (or Hell) during the NDE—he just went down the Sliders tunnel for awhile before the doctors revived him.

      And yes, the tunnel is a tease if you’re hellbound. You go through the tunnel, and it’s all light and happiness, then the fireballs start coming at you and you get shipped down to Hell.

      So at least we see that God knows the power of a good fake-out.

      • Ah, gotcha. Still though, dick move, RTF God.

      • So God ACTIVELY tries to make people think they won’t go to hell before they actually pass the point of no return? I mean, if this unsaved heathen had been given clear visions of hell, he’d probably have begged the pastor to walk him through the sinner’s prayer ASAP, but God just made him think he was doing fine? I thought the more deranged RTCs always say the devil is the one who does that, and all those unsaved heathens don’t jump at the chance to convert because they’ve been told hell is a great bitching party. That’s a whole new level of dickery.

        Not only is hell, by definition, the most horrible ‘punishment’ ever devised, it is also the least effective one known to men. Most of our punishments are, at least in theory, meant to redeem the criminal behavior that preceded it. Even capital punishment is generally intended to prevent further crimes. But hell only comes into the picture after there is no more possibility for either better behavior or future bad behavior. Now, most brutal dictators also use these kind of punishments as a warning to others, but hell doesn’t even serve that purpose since the other sinners don’t see anything happening. Yeah, the RTC at your doorstep with a Bible and a stack of tracts is eager to tell you about it, but if we believed everything that guy told us about how great God is and how awesome God’s love feels we would convert anyway, so even then Hell is superfulous.

        As a lifelong atheist I already have some trouble understanding why many people find the existence of God such a likely possibility, but I’ll at least acknowledge that the existence of a diety is not impossible. But it truely baffels me that RTCs look at this kind of dreg and think ‘Yes, this is exactly what the wisest and most benevolent being that ever existed would do.”

        • And going back to what Grammar Police was saying about nonChristians being nice, the Christians are generally shown to have very weak arguments (or none at all). Eric’s mom* and dad don’t even try to convert him, and Hospital Reverend can only muster a lame “well, why wouldn’t you embrace Jesus” line. Which, yeah, because if you don’t believe in Jesus in the first place**, why would you think “rejecting” him (if that is even the right word), would be a bad thing.

          *From Eric’s perspective, his mom’s Christianity only shows him that she has to do distasteful things that she doesn’t really want to do.

          **Marissa says outright that she simply doesn’t believe in Jesus. It is implied that Eric feels the same way. The movie gives us no reason to suspect that either one is lying, and secretly “knows in hir heart that Jesus is real.”

        • Headless Unicorn Guy

          So God ACTIVELY tries to make people think they won’t go to hell before they actually pass the point of no return?

          Though RTCs don’t go in for such a level of speculation or insight, has anyone here heard the concept that the Joys of Heaven and Torments of Hell are one and the same thing, i.e. the Presence of God at full strength and full intensity? The difference is in the mortal (or post-mortal) recipient’s ability to perceive it — those in Hell can only perceive God as a consuming fire and they try to flee from it to the Uttermost Void. And there are some who have made themselves so twisted that the only place they can ever feel at home is in Hell — remember The Doctor from Hellraiser II?

          And I have to point out that the image of Hell as “Uncle Zeke’s Never Ending Torture Party” has more to do with medieval visionaries and allegories than the original source documents. Jesus’ own image to describe Hell was the name of the Jerusalem City Dump — more an image of a cosmic discard pile than anything else.

          • I had heard of it, yes. I’ll admit, it’s ever so slightly less dickish. But it fits poorly with the highly deterministic RTC view of saved and unsaved. I mean, just saying the magic words makes it feel great while having lived exactly like an RTC but never accepting Jesus makes it painfull beyond belief? Seems kinda weird. If it really is that specific and threshold-y, it still doesn’t speak well for an omniscient and benevolent god that he would make a better contigency plan. I mean, it doesn’t work like that on earth, so such a god is apparantly capable of creating a place for unsaved souls where they are not in constant torment. Not terribly nice to keep them in a place where they are for eternity.

            If I had to think of a least-aweful helll scenario, the purgatory idea would be it. If you’re sinful, whatever that means, your soul can’t experience bliss so the sin needs to be burned out. The more sin, the longer that takes. It provides that ‘punishment for the wicked’ that the RTCs seem to crave, while still painting god in a sort of favourable light, since he’s not doing it just because he wants to pointlessly punish you for mistakes you can’t undo nor could make ever again. It’s just an unfortunate side effect of giving you the bliss. And I think it is no more than reasonable to inflict at least less of that punishment on Garrison here than on, say Hitler.

            If you’re gonna have a hell, this is probably the best way to still be a ‘good’ god, preferably if you also offer an opt-out clause for those that don’t want to suffer purgatory at the expense of missing out on the bliss part. Sadly, it seems the purgatory idea is pretty much out of the Christian favour.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy

            I’ll admit, it’s ever so slightly less dickish. But it fits poorly with the highly deterministic RTC view of saved and unsaved. — Ivan

            That’s because it DOESN’T come out of the RTCs, but from older mainstream liturgical churches who speculated on such matters when years AD were still only three digits.

            The RTCs have tunnel-visioned themselves into a Gospel of Personal Salvation and ONLY Personal Salvation, completely ignoring the dimensions of Kingdom and Community. Their “Soteriology” (view of salvation) is based entirely on the tent revivals of rural Victorian America, where the “walk-the-aisle-say-the-magic-words” originated as a way to show visible immediate results (and probably for the travelling evangelist to keep score). Their idea and emphasis is completely based around that, and that end often justifies any means.

          • An interesting view! I’ve never heard of that, actually. It sort of goes with this idea that’s been percolating in my head that “Hell” is something we put ourselves into. That idea, though, has all sorts of theodicy issues. =)

        • Headless Unicorn Guy

          Ivan, VMink: Some time ago on the blogs, I came across a reference that in some Eastern Orthodox theological speculation, Purgatory and Hell might be the same place or state. As in C.S.Lewis’s The Great Divorce, if you grow out of it, it WAS Purgatory. If you never grow out of it, it IS Hell.

          Then there’s the Western-rite speculation that the Joys of Heaven and Torments of Hell are the same thing — the full-strength Presence of God, now experienced without the insulation of a physical universe. And that the damned can only perceive/experience God’s presence as pain and torment, and flee from it into the Uttermost Void.

          Note that neither of these ideas comes from RTC-land. The Dwarfs are for the Dwarfs, and Won’t be Taken In.

  10. “You’ll never guess who I ran into tonight”
    “Your father.”

    I bet I’m not the only one who was hoping Mom would continue: “…and I hope he didn’t mess up the new paintwork on your car.”

  11. This is one of the big problems with much ChristianTM-brand thinking: it assumes that nobody is a liar, at the same time as warning you that Unsaved people are liars. Sure, that church in the next town over is misguided and wrong and you should have nothing to do with them, but at the same time you should always go to ChristianTM-brand businesses because no bad guy would ever think of using that name.

    Mind you, I know plenty of people who would make similarly bad parenting decisions without bringing Christ into it – they often say “fam-er-lee is all”, and are always unquestioningly in favour of things like adopted children meeting their birth parents, half-siblings who’ve never met getting together, and so on. (Which isn’t to say that I think one should be unquestioningly against them, just that it might be a good idea to think before blundering in and smashing the arrangements people have made.)

    As a straight guy… yeah, I think I concur with HUG. There’s something about her face that doesn’t sit right with me, but I listen to my subconscious a lot.

    See! See! Reading the Bible is bad for you!

    “Object entering our control range. Approaching the Sea of Fire.”

    “Bring it through safely. Land it.”

    RubyTea, I think the RTCs always have unconvincing arguments because, really, RTCs don’t have much in the way of convincing arguments; if they did, there’d be a lot more of them, and they wouldn’t recruit so preferentially among the vulnerable (e.g. kids, and at funerals). An RTC fantasy film is one in which the unconvincing arguments, the ones they’re told to use and hardly ever succeed with, actually work.

    • “Object entering our control range. Approaching the Sea of Fire.”

      “Bring it through safely. Land it.”

      Bonus points if BRIAN BLESSED plays an angel (“DIIIIIVE!”) and Max von Sydow is Satan!

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        “FLASH!!!!!
        AH AH AAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!”

        Now I’ve got Queen’s “Flash Gordon” ear-worming in my head. Thanks a LOT, VMink…

        • You’ve got to admit… even the Rapture would be better with BRIAN BLESSED.

          If you don’t want to think of him in Flash Gordon (“Carpathia’s ALIIIIIVE?!”) and the earworm that song is (“AH AH AAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!”) then think of him in I, Clavdivs (“Has every man in Babylon slept with my Hattie?! No, of course not, I’m the f***ing Potentate! HAHAHAHAHAHHA!”) or almost as good, Blake’s Seven (“And then even JESUS! will bow down! To MEEEEEEEE!” *KABOOM!*)

          (I haven’t seen BRIAN BLESSED in Henry 8.0 yet, though. That keeps popping up on m YouTube recommendations. I really should just click the darn link one of these days.)

          Though I admit a Blake/Avon-style FoeYay would be perfect in making the Ray/Buck chemistry even better.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy

            Though I admit a Blake/Avon-style FoeYay would be perfect in making the Ray/Buck chemistry even better.

            There’s got to be something going on when every time the two Author Self-Inserts appear in the same scene, it becomes an Automatic Slashfic Setup. Nobody’s THAT clueless. Not even Jenkins.

            And when the two Author Self-Inserts get together, Rayford is always the Dom on top while Buck is always the Sub on the bottom. I wonder if that reflects the actual power relationship between the two credited authors?

          • Hah – I love Brian Blessed. He makes everything better. I’m only disappointed that he has never (so far) actually spoken the line that defines him: “Did somebody order A LARGE HAM?!”

  12. Weird for unsaved Marissa to only mention christians dying peacefully. I mean, now that we’ve established that your NDE doesn’t show you hell yet, why wouldn’t muslims, jews and other religions that promise a good afterlife die just as peacefully in the knowledge that they are going to paradise, just before god goes ‘PSYCHE! You picked the wrong religion pal. Bet you wish I’d let you get born in Texas instead of in rural Pakistan now, huh?’

    • Grammar Police

      I think the “Christians die peacefully” line is supposed to be evidence that Marissa is halfway to the Magical Conversion — she sees how awesome it is when Christians die, and she believes in heaven. Just a hop and skip to accepting Jesus!

      (Besides, we can’t have the love interest of the Soon-To-Be-Converted Hero remain a godless heathen. “Don’t be yoked with nonbelievers” and all that jazz.)

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        Ever notice that ALL Christianese fiction (the kind you find only in Jesus Junk stores) is SO predictable? Everything has to point to the Magical Conversion Ending, all according to Formula. It’s not a plot, it’s a checklist.

  13. So according to this film, the afterlife is a game of Tempest? I think I could get used to that.

  14. For all my complaints, I just realized I need to give some minor credit: Mother has remaried after her hubbie left her, and is not being condemned for it, nor is it implied that now that hubbie has reformed she will be need to abandon unseen nice Step Dad and go back to her godly appointed first husband. It’s a small victory, but given that this movie is shaping up to be less like the ‘goofy sfx joke’ the trailer made it out to be and more like the usual full-fledged RTC dreg, I’ll take it.

    Though I do now worry that hubbie croacked within days of resurfacing just so the question of going back to him doesn’t have to come up.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      I think that’s called “Convenient Plot Point”, AKA culling an extraneous character to focus on the main ones. Though it does smack of a walk-on red shirt role.

  15. I suppose the relatively bland angels we’ve been seeing are a nod to the fact that ACCURATE angels (hooves instead of feet, four faces…only one of which is human…and studded with a ridiculous number of eyes) would be more than a little difficult to accomplish on a modest budget, in some way.

    • And a significant number of the target audience would assume the angel was actually a demon, and some would *run* out of the movie theater for fear of being possessed if they watched a movie with that character.

      • Um…They HAVE read Ezekiel, yes? I can understand if they didn’t internalize his description of the cherubim, though. Never mind that they HAVE four cherubim in Revelation. Namely, the “living creatures”–that’s what “cherubim” MEANS. (To contrast, “ophanim” means “wheels” and “seraphim” means “burning ones”)

        Granted that I like to envision angels as having four distinct forms, each (roughly) aligned with the four living creatures/cherub faces. Human (obvious), qilin (lion), shedu (ox), dragon (eagle). That would be a two-legged dragon, by the way, not four-legged.

        (Never mind cherubim may have been inspired BY the Assyrian and Babylonian shedus and lamassus…)

        • Headless Unicorn Guy

          And that someone told me the consonantal root of “Cherub” (“KRB”) is also the same root as the word for “Gryphon”. Angel as a Magnificent Gryphon…

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        And a significant number of the target audience would assume the angel was actually a demon, and some would *run* out of the movie theater for fear of being possessed if they watched a movie with that character.

        This is called Superstition.

        Raw, rank Superstition.

        Wasn’t one of the Romans’ beefs about this “Christian” cult was that they WEREN’T superstitious enough to be a real religion?

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