So here’s the thing: I’m an atheist.
And, okay, hang on. This isn’t going to be some Christian-bashing, anti-organized religion, pro-atheism post, so everyone can relax. I don’t judge or look down on people’s beliefs until they start using them as an excuse for hate OR try to force them on others (particularly through lawmaking). Believe what you want, but let the rest of us live, you know?
I’m not here to talk about religion and/or spirituality and how I feel about them. But I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my predilection for appreciating… well, I’m not even sure what you would call the genre. Biblical fantasy? That just sounds like fictional smut about Adam and Eve or something.
Oh man, there’s totally pornographic fanfiction about the bible, isn’t there?
OH MY GOD THERE IS. BOTH OLD TESTAMENT AND NEW. THAT’S BOTH NOT SURPRISING AND HILARIOUS.
My point is that I’m a sucker for entertainment that includes biblical characters, celestial beings, fighting against godly intervention and predestination-- that sort of stuff. I’m not exactly sure why, but I mean… look, regardless of beliefs, some of the stories in the Bible are quality entertainment, you know? Like, Sodom and Gomorrah alone would make an AMAZING disaster movie. I’m just saying.
Lucifer is a perfect example. I’ve already written about how much I like that show after binge-watching it over the past month. Apart from the whole “the Devil is just misunderstood” thing (another storyline I’m a sucker for-- villains who aren’t truly evil, just PRECIOUS BABIES THAT NEED HUGS), there’s so many interesting takes on biblical canon. For instance, in the show, people only go to hell because of their own guilt about their actions. There’s no ultimate divine judgment-- each person decides their own eternal reward. I mean, I have some issues with that, because Lucifer says at one point that he “knows” that Trump is going to hell, but I’m like: Trump shows NO guilt or remorse whatsoever. And I mean, psychopaths exist. So do those people get some sort of “get out of hell free” card because of that? That can’t be fair.
Someone email the Lucifer writers, I need answers. (I’m aware I could do that myself, but I prefer to hide under furniture instead of socially interacting, thanks.)
Then there’s Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. First of all, I cannot WAIT to see the series this spring, and I’m squealing with envy over the promotional press kits that I’ve been seeing over on Twitter. I MEAN, I HAVE A BLOG. I CAN PROBABLY GET AT LEAST TWO PEOPLE TO WATCH THE SERIES. I WANT STUFF, TOO (and while they’re at it, I’d be very grateful for advanced episodes to recap. Oh, and hey Netflix, for the new season of Lucifer, as well). I JUST WANT TO BE AN ENTERTAINMENT WRITER WITHOUT BEING INVOLVED IN THE, FRANKLY, TERRIFYING WORLD OF ENTERTAINMENT PRESS. IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?!!
Sorry. I had a moment.
Not only is Good Omens ridiculously clever and funny, but it’s such a different telling of the whole “anti-Christ” myth. And having a demon and an angel conspiring together to save the world just because, hey, they kind of like it? Yes. Give it.
Also, there’s this bit, which is just… perfect:
“And the Lord spake unto the Angel that guarded the eastern gate, saying 'Where is the flaming sword that was given unto thee?
And the Angel said, 'I had it here only a moment ago, I must have put it down somewhere, forget my own head next.'
And the Lord did not ask him again.”
…. I was going to mention Supernatural next, but I haven’t liked that show since the finale of season five.
WHICH WAS NINE SEASONS AGO.
There’s also this small subset of whatever this genre is that has already had a large and lasting effect on my belief system as a whole. I mean, I didn’t even start thinking my own thoughts about my religion/spirituality until I watched Kevin Smith’s Dogma. Which, for a movie that has an monster made of literal shit (a demon, technically, but you get the idea), is fucking brilliant. And it made me think about a lot of things I hadn’t before. This quote from Rufus (Chris Rock), for example:
“Imagine you're a twelve-year old boy, and one day you're told you're God's only son- more than that, you're God. How long do you think it would take you to come to grips with something that huge? Maybe, say, eighteen years? In the Bible, Jesus suddenly goes from twelve to thirty. Twelve to thirty! Now that's some pretty bad storytelling! Where are the texts dealing with the missing eighteen years?! I'll tell you where; they were offered up as a sacrifice to the God of ecumenical politics!”
It kind of blew my teenage mind. That movie alone kick-started a LOT of self-reflection, which ultimately led to identifying my beliefs as “agnostic”. I was still down with the existence of some sort of omniscient being, but not organized religion.
And that held for TEN YEARS-- for the most part, anyway. It wasn’t like I was thinking about my spirituality every hour of every day. But I was open to the possibility of the divine.
Then came Ricky Gervais’ The Invention of Lying. To be honest, I don’t really care about the movie as a whole that much. It’s an okay film-- not terrible, not brilliant. Which you’d think would mean that it shouldn’t be included in this list, but… there’s this one scene.
I can’t even just quote it, you have to watch it. To give you some context, the movie takes place in an alternative universe where no one can lie. Everyone tells the absolute truth, to ridiculous and insulting levels. Until this:
And that just spoke to me, so deeply. It’s a heartbreaking scene, to be sure, but beyond that, it made so much SENSE. Of course we created god/gods to protect us, because life is scary and terrible and unfair and we needed something to comfort us. Of course we created a place of eternal happiness after we die, because death is the unknown, and the unknown is scary. It’s so very human, all of it. Convenient and comforting, able to bend and shift and be whatever we need, whenever we need it. And if that was it, that’d be okay. But we also use it for obedience, judgment, control, and hatred. But isn’t that so very human, too?
So I ended up an atheist. And nothing has convinced me otherwise, though I’m totally willing to admit that I know nothing about the universe or how it works. But neither does anyone else, you know?
However, if Alan Rickman wants to show up as Metatron to change my mind, I’m totally okay with that.