SNL’s ‘DJesus’ is a pacifist compared to Tim LaHaye’s lethal Death Jesus

Here’s the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, as envisioned by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins in The Glorious Appearing [note: this is R-rated graphic violence]:

Rayford watched through the binocs as men and women soldiers and horses seemed to explode where they stood. It was as if the very words of the Lord had superheated their blood, causing it to burst through their veins and skin.

… Tens of thousands grabbed their heads or their chests, fell to their knees, and writhed as they were invisibly sliced asunder. Their innards and entrails gushed to the desert floor, and as those around them turned to run, they too were slain, their blood pooling and rising in the unforgiving brightness of the glory of Christ.

… Their flesh dissolved, their eyes melted, and their tongues disintegrated.

… And Jesus had killed them all.

Jesus Christ, killer. Mass-murderer. Spiller of blood and entrails. He crushes his enemies, sees them driven before him, and revels in the lamentation of their women. (That quote is from the Bible, right?)

This is received not as the most pernicious blasphemy imaginable, but as wholesome, biblical, family-friendly entertainment for good evangelical Christians. It’s seen as edifying. It’s part of a beloved and phenomenally popular series of books, published by a respectable evangelical Christian publishing house and sold in every Christian bookstore chain in the U.S.

But the following video, on the other hand, has been denounced as an outrageous sacrilege — not by Tarantino fans, but by American Christians. Quite a few American Christians who have no problem at all accepting, enjoying and celebrating Tim LaHaye’s gory Jesus in the Left Behind series nonetheless pretend to be horrified by Saturday Night Live’s spoof “DJesus Uncrossed”:

YouTube Preview Image

Is this possible? Is this at all believable? Can anyone credibly claim to find that video offensive, but not be even more offended by that scene from The Glorious Appearing?

I don’t think that is believable at all. It seems like indignation-addicts just seizing on one more excuse for getting high on offendedness.

It’s understandable if someone thinks the SNL skit goes too far — that’s what it’s trying to do. But the premise of the sketch is far more reverent than the premise of Tim LaHaye’s scene of mass-slaughter.

LaHaye revels in gushing entrails and melting eyeballs, his blood-smeared face breaking out into a pious grin as he cheers. “This,” he says, “this is what Jesus Christ is really like! This is the real, true Jesus!”

The SNL skit, by contrast, presents itself as offering the most over-the-top, ludicrous idea it could conceive. “Nothing,” it says, “nothing could be more absurd than to imagine Jesus like this.”

James McGrath has a thoughtful response to SNL’s skit, drawing on this quote from Brian McLaren’s book Everything Must Change:

This eschatological understanding of a violent Second Coming leads us to believe that in the end, even God finds it impossible to fix the world apart from violence and coercion.

… If we remain charmed by this kind of eschatology, we will be forced to see the nonviolence of the Jesus of the Gospels as a kind of strategic fake-out, like a feigned retreat in war, to be followed up by a crushing blow of so-called redemptive violence in the end. The gentle Jesus of the First Coming becomes a kind of trick Jesus, a fake-me-out Messiah, to be replaced by the true jihadist Jesus of a violent Second Coming. This is why I believe that many of our current eschatologies, intoxicated by dubious interpretations of John’s Apocalypse, are not only ignorant and wrong, but dangerous and immoral.

(post updated to add content note at top)

  • http://mordicai.livejournal.com Mordicai

    My favorite part is how smug some people like to be about the Islamic prohibition on images of Mohammad– I’ll often hear other atheists be like “well at least they don’t threaten newspaper cartoonists!” in defense of their (I would say racially biased) targeting of Islam & the normalization of Christianity– but then they TURN AROUND & GET UPSET ABOUT PARODIES WITH JESUS IN IT.

    Also Djesus was a wonderful satire of Tarantino, but you know what, you’re right, it is an even better parody of people who would read a book about pacifism & economic justice & somehow decide it is a boilerplate for revenge fantasies & neo-feudalism.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    No it doesn’t.  Animals don’t have souls.  You aren’t ‘depriving them of their very existence’, because they never existed.  You can destroy a rock, but you can’t kill it – it was never alive in the first place.

  • The_L1985

     That mindset never made sense to me.

    As a child, I played at taking my stuffed puppies to church to be baptized.  My mother told me that was silly, because animals don’t have souls.  The concept of people having souls, but animals not having souls, didn’t make sense to me at all, but I stopped anyway to avoid upsetting my mother.

    I still refuse to believe that my dog doesn’t have some kind of soul or spirit.  He just doesn’t act like the soulless automaton that some people seem to view animals as.

  • Carstonio

    I hadn’t read Glorious Appearing so Fred’s point and McGrath’s didn’t occur to me. I had remembered Revelation as attributing the destruction of sinners to the Biblical god instead of Jesus. While they’re obviously right about the hypocrisy of the folks bashing the SNL spoof, from my reading they haven’t given their own opinion. I would like to think that they laughed at the over-the-top absurdity, but that’s not something I can assume.

  • patter

    Fox News personality Bill
    O’Reilly has announced Killing Jesus: A History

    Oh, goody.  Another huckster cashes in.

  • http://www.angelsparrow.com valarltd

    The L&J images are straight from Revelation, that would be the difference. Rev 19:15, we are told Jesus treads out the winepress of God’s wrath. And in verse 21, the armies are “killed by the sword” of the one on the horse. And back in Chapter 14, the blood flows out of the winepress, deep as the horses’ bridles for 200 miles

    It’s great imagery, vivid and grusome. I’ve used it.

    No longer quite so immaculate,
    his perfect hair tumbled and matted and his telegenic face smeared
    with blood, Brother Josiah glared at the interloper. “Why do you do
    this?” he asked. “Who are you?”

    “I am he that treadeth out the
    winepress of God’s wrath,” Joshua said. “’And the winepress was
    trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even
    unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred
    furlongs’.” He looked around the sanctuary. “I think I need to do
    more treading, we’re not even ankle-deep in the back, and it has to
    go clear to Nashville and Little Rock.”

    But if you’re dedicated to a theology where God is not a monster, it doesn’t work at all.

  • John (not McCain)

    The trouble with tribbles is not their appetite; it’s that they’re born pregnant and will destroy any environment where they do not face any predators.  Sort of like Quiverfull people.

  • Nekouken

    Nobody else was reminded by the video of “Ghandi II” from UHF?

    I’m thrown by the passage being from book 12. It seems a bad idea to delay the money shot in your revenge porn so long. Comparably, that would be like making a Gone with the Wind porn parody in which you had to watch the entire movie of Gone with the Wind before the first sex scene.

  • Parisienne

    You know what? To my mind the most obscenely blasphemous thing in that quotation isn’t the violence. It’s the use of the word “unforgiving” in connection with Jesus and his glory.

    Anyone who can use the word “unforgiving” in connection with the one who is full of grace and truth has never read the Bible.

  • hidden_urchin

    See, all I was thinking was, “Someone saw Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

  • LoneWolf343

     When they went past book seven, it is when I realized that they were in it for the money. Large-print, one-inch margins, lots of annoying filler…they were just padding for more money.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    He just doesn’t act like the soulless automaton that some people seem to view animals as.

    I get off the bus a few steps before equating complex cognitive systems with disembodied souls, but I basically agree with you about dogs.

    My mom has the secular version of your mom’s attitude… she doesn’t talk about souls or any other theological abstraction, but it’s clear she thinks of non-human animals as automata with roughly the same degree of mental life that Microsoft Word has.

    It is a perpetual shock to her, when she visits, that our dog has a personality, expresses sometimes-arbitrary preferences, makes autonomous decisions, initiates interactions with humans with the clear intention to communicate things, genuinely seems to like us, and generally behaves like a moderately complex cognitive system… and when she finally accepts that, she turns around and starts anthropomorphizing the dog, attributing all kinds of mental states to her for which there’s just no evidence.

    I suspect I just puzzle her with my oft-repeated “yes, she has a personality, but no, the reason she’s giving you that look is because giving you that look works“.

    Then again, I often describe human behavior that way, too.

  • Persia

     IIRC, there are some mounted divisions in use in Afghanistan because of the mountainous terrain. They certainly wouldn’t be needed in a Glorious Field of Battle such as L & J envision. (Maybe stuff’s started breaking down because so many mechanics were Raptured?)

  • http://www.facebook.com/bobby.herrington.1 Boze Herrington

    I never finished “Glorious Appearing,” so I just read that part about the sheep & the goats. That’s appalling! In the story in the Bible, the sheep are taken into heaven not based on whether they believed, but on whether they had fed the poor, visited the sick and imprisoned, loved their neighbors. Many of the sheep, in fact, are surprised to find themselves welcomed into God’s presence.

    Jenkins is inverting the meaning of that passage by making all the sheep “born-again believers.”

  • Carstonio

    Years ago during a cicada emergence, a local radio personality ate live cicadas on the air. This upset his wife because she believed the insects had souls. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/bobby.herrington.1 Boze Herrington

    I know Jenkins likes to say, “I’m no C. S. Lewis,” but he really needs to go back and reread the end of “The Last Battle.”

  • The_L1985

     No he doesn’t.  Aside from the Plato-inspired vision of heaven, and perhaps a feeling of completion for having read the entire series, I can think of no good reason to read The Last Battle at all.

  • EllieMurasaki

    [People] don’t have souls. You aren’t ‘depriving them of their very existence’, because they never existed. You can destroy a rock, but you can’t kill it – it was never alive in the first place.

    I do not like the places that logic takes me.

  • http://tobascodagama.com Tobasco da Gama

     For that matter, why is anyone riding horses? And, more importantly, did they also have bayonets? Were L&J preemptively throwing a bone to their Mormon buddy Mitt Romney?

  • Jim Roberts

    I have to say, growing up, The Silver Chair was my least favourite of the books and I loved The Last Battle. They’ve switched places now.

  • Vermic

    If we remain charmed by this kind of eschatology, we will be forced to see the nonviolence of the Jesus of the Gospels as a kind of strategic fake-out, like a feigned retreat in war, to be followed up by a crushing blow of so-called redemptive violence in the end. The gentle Jesus of the First Coming becomes a kind of trick Jesus, a fake-me-out Messiah, to be replaced by the true jihadist Jesus of a violent Second Coming.

    McLaren phrases the issue better than I ever could, but have always wanted to because I see this attitude in more Christians than I wish I did.  There are some Christians for whom TurboJesus is the real Jesus, and they’re looking forward to seeing him kick ass.   The real Jesus is the badass, unforgiving, “depart from me, I never knew you” Jesus.  The gentle Jesus who let himself get crucified was just playing around, but now Round 2 is coming and the gloves are off and it’s gonna be awesome!!!
     
    You see this unwholesome gloating in a lot of Jack Chick’s work, and I know at least one guy in real life who thinks this way.  It’s fucking horrifying.

    This eschatological understanding of a violent Second Coming leads us to believe that in the end, even God finds it impossible to fix the world apart from violence and coercion.

    Related to this, I’ve always been a little depressed by the J.R.R. Tolkien draft (in his notes somewhere) about the final battle at the end of Middle-Earth and how Morgoth will finally be slain (by Turin, IIRC).  It seems like such a wasteful end to things.  I know JRRT was heavily influenced by Norse mythology and Ragnarok, but to the extent Middle-Earth reflects his own Christian outlook I find it worrying.  Morgoth’s role in the great plan of Eru is to turn evil, sow misery and corruption for millennia, and ultimately get stabbed and die?  What lesson are we meant to take away from that?

    In my headcanon, the proper ending for Morgoth’s story is that he is redeemed and reconciled.  Yes, even him.

    Or a phone.

    Rayford cried for days after that scene in Fail-Safe where the ambassador’s phone melts.

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

     

    See, all I was thinking was, “Someone saw Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

    Thank goodness!  It’s not just me!

  • VMink

    My mom has the secular version of your mom’s attitude… she doesn’t talk about souls or any other theological abstraction, but it’s clear she thinks of non-human animals as automata with roughly the same degree of mental life that Microsoft Word has.

    “It looks like you’re trying to describe neurological complexes as emergent behavior.  Would you like some help?”

    … Never thought I’d be trying to make a Clippy joke in relation to Left Behind.

  • Carstonio

    Good pull from Fail-Safe.

    The outrage over the the spoof isn’t about Jesus at all. These folks obviously view Revelation as their revenge fantasy, their last laugh at all those gay urban intellectual atheist elites who mocked them. Using TurboJesus for laughs undermines their tribalism that’s masquerading as Christianity.

    http://www.salon.com/2002/07/29/left_behind/

  • http://www.facebook.com/WingedWyrm Charles Scott

    What should be surprising, when one realizes everything else they believe God does in perfect morality and the fact that this is a revenge fantasy, is how mild the violence is.  Yes, they all die horribly, but that seems to be glossed over.  This could have been Saw on a massive scale… but with no intended redemption for Jigsaw’s victims.

    Not to justify anything, but just to bring up the question of… why wasn’t it? Considering everything that L&J seem to believe and the otherwise empathy they seem to lack.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    “It looks like you’re trying to describe neurological complexes as emergent behavior.  Would you like some help?”

    * snorfle * That’s lovely.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    > why wasn’t it?

    Limited imagination?

  • GDwarf

    I wouldn’t be at all surprised if neurological complexes are emergent behaviour, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t meaningful. Pain is real no matter why it exists.

  • Makabit

    What’s with the chariots of iron? The only reference I recall is Sisera’s army, and they get pretty trashed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jess-Goodwin/28602067 Jess Goodwin

     Maybe not for you or me, but for LaHaye and Jenkins, it would be a step up.

  • Makabit

    Dogs definitely have souls. How can anyone look into a dog’s eyes and not see they have souls?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H17edn_RZoY

  • GDwarf

    What’s with the chariots of iron? The only reference I recall is Sisera’s army, and they get pretty trashed.

     “The LORD was with the men of Judah. They took possession of the hill
    country, but they were unable to drive the people from the plains,
    because they had iron chariots.” Judges 1:19.

  • Diona the Lurker

    I’m currently re-reading the Silmarillion, and my biggest problem with Morgoth is that it does seem as if his role as the bringer of darkness and pain to Middle Earth is planned by Iluvatar. No, neither Eru or the text say that it’s the case, but it’s difficult to believe that he didn’t forsee what Morgoth would do, especially given that it was him that created Morgoth and his character. In which case, he’s just used, and then destroyed when he’s fulfilled his purpose. In other words, Iluvatar doomed him to fall and be evil, and have no redemption ever. That’s incredibly manipulative and unmerciful behaviour, and not exactly what you’d expect of a supposedly good deity.

  • Diona the Lurker

    Fred’s quote from Glorious Appearing reminds me of a bumper sticker I saw recently: ‘If you think a great white shark is scary, wait until you see God! Revelation 17’.

  • Diona the Lurker

    That was a reply to Vermic. Silly Disqus ):

  • christopher_y

    Blast you, sir! After all this time I’d almost managed to forget Clippy…

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Good guys?  There are no good guys in 40K ;)

    Hence why I used the qualifier “ostensible”.  In 40K, “good” is relative.  

    Of course, sometimes you are just in the mood for the bloodthristy batshit insanity that only Khorne can provide.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Katherine-Harms/602268732 Katherine Harms

    To take Jerry Jenkins as representative of all Christians is just as bogus as to take SNL as representative of all non-Christians.
     Jerry Jenkins wrote fiction. He claimed to base his work on the Bible, but like any fiction writer, his work is his own creation. I like to think that is what he would tell you if you asked, but I can’t say for sure, because I don’t run in his circles. Many, many people read his books, but if anybody preached sermons from them I am not aware of it. Even though the book of Revelation is extremely horrifying, it might be hard to reconcile that book with the fantasy Jerry Jenkins wrote. Maybe his book is as bad as this writer describes it. How does that justify doing something even worse?
    I think everything SNL does is in poor taste. The episode about Jesus is possibly the poorest I have ever known about. I don’t see how anyone who had any respect for Christianity or even simple respect for religions of all kinds could have authorized it, produced it or performed in it. Correct me if I am wrong, but I am fairly certain we won’t see a similar production about Mohammed or Buddha any time soon.

  • hidden_urchin

    OK, I know it’s not NRA Friday (which sounds like a special discount at a gun range if you ask me) but when the flash-fiction bug bites one must write.  Also, we’re never going to get to Glorious Appearing so I might as well take advantage of the opportunity.

    James lunged at Adam and wrapped his arms around him.  He could feel wetness soaking through his pants but he refused to open his eyes, refused to look at the horror that he
    knew was around him.  He hugged his friend and prayed the most desperate prayer of his life, “My life for his, Lord. My life for his.”  He could hear the screaming of riders and horses and smelled what could only be described as the stench of the grave.  “My life for his,
    Lord.  My life for his.”  Adam twisted and writhed in pain but James held onto him as if his own body could shield his friend’s from the words of the Lord.  “My life for his, Lord,” he
    sobbed.  “My life for his.”  Adam’s skin grew hot and James added his scream to the others, “My life for his, Lord.  My life for his.”

    And, in His unholy wrath, the Lord heard.

    The screaming died and James was conscious that his pants, once wet with blood, were now dry.  He opened his eyes and looked around.  Horses were getting shakily to their feet, sides heaving.  Many of the riders were still curled up on the ground, now crying, and some, strangers and friends alike, hugged each other for comfort.  A blood bay gelding stood over one rider and nosed her gently.  The rider got up unsteadily and wrapped her
    arms around the horse’s neck.  She buried her head in its mane and sobbed.

    Then, the Lord spoke again, His words for James alone.

    “You would lay down your life for your friend?”

    “Yes, Lord.”

    “Why?”

    “Because you told me to.”

    “You follow Me and yet you ride against Me?”

    “Yes, Lord.”

    “Why?”

    “Because you told me to.”

    The Lord stood quietly for some time as the hosts of Heaven waited uneasily and the remnants of the forces of evil wept.  Then every person, every animal, every stone
    and blade of grass each heard in its own way the voice of the Lord.

    “Forgive me.”

    Edit: Formatting

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Morgoth’s role in the great plan of Eru is to turn evil, sow misery and corruption for millennia, and ultimately get stabbed and die?  What lesson are we meant to take away from that?

    I am unsure of the lesson we readers are supposed to take from that, but I know that Sauron took the lesson “Better to be seen as a God with a capital ‘G’ than to actually try to be one.”

  • Lunch Meat

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I am fairly certain we won’t see a similar production about Mohammed or Buddha any time soon.

    I’ll just leave this here: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2012/09/12/this-is-the-anti-muhammed-movie-that-sparked-deadly-islamist-protests-in-egypt-libya-yesterday/

  • http://www.facebook.com/mary.withers Mary Withers

    ‘Cause the Bible *says* they are horses.   

    Oddly enough, first time I read Revelation as a kid, in the stories of warfare, the hundreds of horses with their breastplates of jacinth (green stone) and their tails that spit fire, and the locusts with the sound of a thousand chariot wheels, flown either by men with long hair or by women, I remember thinking, “Wow!   John of Patmos saw some modern warfare through a rip in time!”

    A 1st Century shepherd — even a literate and intelligent one — would assume that any massing army had horses.   If he had a vision of modern warfare,  he just mistook the plates on the tanks for protective armor for the (nonexistent) horse inside.  ;->

  • Foreigner

    I don’t know why anyone would be looking for lessons in the Silmarillion anyway. Unless as an example to authors that they should damn well try and finish what they started.

  • stardreamer42

    It’s a stupid idea. If there is no afterlife, then this life becomes INFINITELY valuable, because it’s the only thing we have! When the only thing that matters is what we do right here and right now, when there’s no supernatural overseer with a whip standing over us, it becomes MORE imperative to be right and ethical, not less so. How can anybody not grasp that?

  • aunursa

    I could be mistaken, but I think she was referring specifically to the possibility of a Saturday Night Live production about Mohammed or Buddha.

  • Carstonio

    Now I have Ghost Riders in the Sky in my head…

     I’ve heard the claim that a vision that Ezekiel had could have been of a alien spaceship.

  • AnonymousSam

    To take Jerry Jenkins as representative of all Christians is just as bogus as to take SNL as representative of all non-Christians.

    I’m pretty sure that’s not what our Christian host was doing, or what the many Christian commentators here were doing.

    He claimed to base his work on the Bible, but like any fiction writer,
    his work is his own creation. I like to think that is what he would tell
    you if you asked, but I can’t say for sure, because I don’t run in his
    circles. Many, many people read his books, but if anybody preached sermons from them I am not aware of it.

    He claims this is exactly how it will happen. This is untrue, of course. Regardless, millions of people consider LeHaye and Jenkins to be experts on Biblical prophecy. The Left Behind movies are now part of the curriculum for at least one public school — as representative of Biblical prophecy.

    The SNL parody garners its humor from the fact that these people exist, that this is exactly what they claim Jesus is like, and yet they’ll find this horrifyingly offensive because it’s done out of mockery instead of fear and awe.

    Maybe his book is as bad as this writer describes it.

    Did you read the excerpt from the book at the very front of the post? You phrase this sentence as if it were a hypothetical, from-second-hand supposition when you can read it and see for yourself that yes, it really is that bad. It’s a Jesus who relentlessly marches across the plain and his quotation of the Bible causes people to suffer horrific deaths. Then, when the dust settles, he bodily condemns the survivors to Hell and the authors gleefully describe their screams of agony while the protagonists feel happy about it. This was also quoted in one of the front page comments.

    The parody may be tasteless content in itself, but then again, I think Passion of the Christ is even worse, being a narrative-lacking non-linear portrayal of a man being tortured to death, but I gather that people have differing opinions.

  • Foreigner
  • http://www.facebook.com/mary.withers Mary Withers

     And, conversely, many of the “goats” are surprised to find themselves headed for the lower floor, as they “did signs and wonders and miracles and prophesied in the Lord’s name.”

    Lord makes it clear:  “If you did all that and were still a nasty mean selfish crud, to hell with ya!”

  • Vermic

    Maybe his book is as bad as this writer describes it. How does that justify doing something even worse?

    Forgive me, but I feel that you may be missing the entire point of Fred’s post.  Fred is arguing that SNL’s skit is, in fact, not worse than Left Behind’s portrayal.  The difference is that SNL is presenting Badass Murder Jesus as a joke.  The entire joke is predicated on the understanding that this is not how Jesus would actually behave.  SNL’s very presentation of Badass Murder Jesus as a joke refutes the idea that they actually believe in this. 

    LaHaye & Jenkins are not joking.  They are presenting Badass Murder Jesus as how they think Jesus really is (at least in the world they have written, which likely — though not necessarily — matches closely to their real beliefs), and the slaughter committed by their Badass Murder Jesus as the “happy ending” to their saga.


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