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

SNL’s ‘DJesus’ is a pacifist compared to Tim LaHaye’s lethal Death Jesus February 20, 2013

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”:

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)

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  • BaseDeltaZero

    They (both) don’t deserve moral consideration – at least not on the level of moral actors – because they are not sapient, which is the closest we can get to measuring that supernatural property.  Though there’s potentially interesting point there RE: Seperation of Emotion from sapience.  Personally, I think something like emotion would resolve itself in any event, but anyways.

  • Turcano

    It doesn’t really apply to them, either; Objectivism was a cult even in Rand’s own lifetime.

  • Turcano

    Somebody needs to convince PZ Myers to build one.

  • Lorehead

    Well, Peter Singer argued that the relevant criterion was sentience, rather than sapience.  It’s not clear to me, anyhow, that newborn babies do have more sapience than adult chimpanzees, we don’t consider mentally retarded humans (as opposed to actually brain-dead ones) unworthy of moral consideration, and my moral intuition tells me that torturing dogs is wrong.  On the other hand, I do care more about humans than about nonhuman animals.

    I also note that, when Singer’s own mother developed advanced Alzheimer’s, he continued to support her.  He admitted that this went against the ideas he’d promoted as an academic philosopher, since she was no longer sentient.

  • Lorehead

    That might work as a joke, or even a meme (a term Dawkins popularized), but read in context, the passage talks about things that are a lot more interesting to me than yet another contradiction in the Bible.  If you just want a go-to verse to make literalism look ridiculous, why not 1 Corinthians 7:25, “Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy.”  Is this verse, which says it’s not divinely-inspired, the literal Word of God?

    Really, you get the same kind of oscillation from any believer in an interventionist Deity: events, especially ones such as religious wars,  in their view are largely determined by supernatural forces.  As a result, believers  sometimes explain events as happening by God’ will, and sometimes give naturalistic explanations.  And assigning success to God and failure elsewhere is a rather common frame.

  • Makabit

    Have they noted that three chapters later, the problem is resolved?

    (Oy. Atheist…well, clobber texts is probably wrong. “Dumb-ass giggle texts”?)

  • I don’t believe animals have souls, but then I also don’t believe humans have souls.

    That said, treating harmless animals (e.g. domesticated pets as well as livestock) humanely and decently is something that’s just what you do. Even animals that represent threats or are unpleasant shouldn’t be tortured: if you must kill them, do it swiftly.

  • Remember the place of horses in history. The horses are not being punished with their deaths; the owners/riders are. The punishment is not the death of a living thing, but the destruction of property.

  • arghous

    For some reason, what bugs me most about this scene is the ‘goats’
    acknowledging Jesus before being swallowed up by the earth. I’d like to
    think at least some of them would tell this Jesus what they really
    thought of him, once they realized there would be no mercy.

    It’s from the verse that says “Every knee shall bow.”  No, not that Voldechrist curses us, but rather once dead the scales drop from our eyes, and we see just how totally, awesomely wrong we were to reject him, and we realize much too late that Jack Chick was right, that nobody could possibly reject him because of reason or lack of evidence or love for another, non-effed up god, but because of pride, and thus of course we’ll be forced to conclude that VC really is Just and not at all a Bad Person, so we can’t have anything to reproach him for.

  • The_L1985

     The more I learn about Thomas Aquinas, the more revolted I am that the Catholic church thought he was worthy of sainthood rather than posthumous excommunication.

  • In fairness, that quote is not found in any of Thomas Aquinas’s extant writings, as Will Durant acknowledges in “The Story of Civilization.”