It’s been quite awhile since I’ve seen fit to set up any kind of rant on this here blog. But something happened this week that took me into the past and stirred up a lot of righteous indignation in me. So you get to wade through it here. (Sorry–or as the case may be, you’re welcome.)

I haven’t seen the recent comedy film This Is The End. The Director has, and told us about it, and he thought it was incredibly funny. Given the subject matter, I can definitely understand how it could rile up the religious folk. From what I’ve heard, it’s a bunch of comedy actors who are playing their real-life selves in a story line where the rapture occurs, and they were all left behind because they were bad people–and the funny ways in which they go about trying to redeem themselves after the fact.┬áSounds totally irreverent, from a certain perspective, but in fact, the way The Director interpreted it, these folks weren’t so much making fun of the rapture as making fun of themselves in that context. Almost like, “Man, if this rapture stuff is true, we’re screwed.” All that to say, although I didn’t see the film, the idea of it wasn’t as offensive to me as it perhaps would have been a decade ago. I understand this is largely (or completely) the brainchild of non-Christians, and it is likely a reflection of how they view what many Christians believe. If I’d been part of the Hollywood scene, I think it would have provided an opening for some awesome and meaningful conversations.

Well, leave it to the Bible Belt to have no sense of humor about it.

This past week, Seth Rogen (who wrote, directed and acted in the film) posted on Twitter: “We knew This Is The End would inspire a religious backlash, and here it is”–followed by a YouTube link. The link leads to a video put out by a ministry organization in Oklahoma City called “Prophecy In the News”, during which a white-haired, bearded guy sits behind an intimidating desk and for eight minutes reads a newspaper review of the film (he apparently didn’t see it himself), picks apart the theological differences he has with the film, accuses the filmmakers of “making fun” of the rapture, speaks disdainfully of “Hollywood types” (while making a point of mentioning their wealth more than once, which made no sense in context), and says he would have “a few choice words” for Seth Rogen himself. All done, in my opinion, with an air of superiority, calm arrogance and sickly-sweet self-righteousness that made me honestly embarrassed that this man, my brother in Christ, had shown up on Seth Rogen’s radar.

A few choice words…

{Stops and slowly counts to 10}

As many of you already realize from the existence of this blog, there are plenty of things I think are wrong with institutional Christianity, things I think do not work, things I think are self-defeating. But there are relatively few things that just plain piss me off–and arrogant displays of Pharisaism from “mature” Christians who should know better rank at or near the top of that list. Although the video is not addressed directly to Rogen or to Hollywood, it still comes from the perspective of the “Christian bubble”–that perception that acts and speaks as though there is no worldview other than the Christian one, and does not take into account that someone outside that bubble wouldn’t understand or respond well to Christian-ese. And it reeks with an air of judgmentalism that makes me cringe to be identified with it in any way.

It brings to mind a snafu that happened with the church a few decades ago, with a film called The Last Temptation of Christ. When that film came out, I remember the pastor of the church I was attending as a kid railing against it, accusing it of blatant blasphemy, and advising us all not only to avoid it, but to write letters of protest to Hollywood about it. Obviously, I never saw the film. But later on, I learned a bit more about the filmmaker who made that film, Martin Scorsese. Raised a Catholic, he still considered himself to be deeply spiritual when he made the film. Granted, The Last Temptation of Christ took liberties with the Scripture–a lot of liberties–but Scorsese’s intentions were not blasphemous nor anti-Christian in any way. He was actually searching. And he was absolutely devastated and baffled that the larger church community came out so strongly against the film. In the name of defending righteousness and the Scriptures, to our shame, we alienated a seeker.

And that’s precisely my problem here. I have no doubt that This Is The End takes liberties, and is perhaps even irreverent or sacrilegious. But who can really judge the heart or motives of “Seth Rogen and others” in making this film? Would Jesus have made a YouTube video advising His followers of how wrong these “Hollywood types” are, reinforcing the us-versus-them mentality so rampant in today’s church? Or would He have reached out to Seth Rogen in a spirit of peace?

I don’t mind sharing a few choice words of my own. To the makers of that video, and to the speaker himself, I would say some things to the following effect:

Do you realize how much damage you have done with this video?

Do you realize that you’ve simply confirmed to Seth Rogen, and no doubt many others, what they probably already believe about mainstream Christianity, namely that we are a bunch of self-righteous bigots?

Do you really think you have done anything of eternal value by using a film you didn’t even watch to reinforce your particular theological beliefs to people who already believe them?

Do you see what an opportunity you have wasted?

This is my point: far too often, we get so busy defending and “protecting” our theology that we alienate people for whom Christ died. I have seen this more times in my lifetime than I care to admit–and to my own shame, in earlier days I participated in it. The very fact that this video not only went public, but that Seth Rogen himself saw it and linked to it on Twitter, mortifies me. So perhaps you can understand why I can’t be silent when I see this now. It is just un-Christlike.

As for Seth Rogen, I’d have these words to say: I apologize for my brother’s ill-advised behavior on that video. Please understand that his words and his attitude do not accurately represent the heart of Christ, nor the attitude of Christ-followers in general. If you ever want to have a meaningful, non-threatening conversation about the rapture and/or the end of the world, there are lot of believers, including myself, who would love to have that conversation with you. I am sorry.

Those are my few choice words. I’m done now.

Musician. Composer. Recovering perfectionist. Minister-in-transition. Lover of puns. Hijacker of rock song references. Questioner of the status quo. I'm not really a rebel. Just a sincere Christ-follower with a thirst for significance that gets me into trouble. My quest has taken me over the fence of institutional Christianity. Here are some of my random thoughts along the way. Read along, join in the conversation. Just be nice.