Left Behind (2014); Dear Mr. Watterson

I watched the 2014 Left Behind movie, starring Nicholas Cage.  Here are some thoughts:

  1.  I did not care for the movie.  Now, you may be thinking to yourself that I am the sort of person who would not like the movie—-progressive, an academic wannabe.  But that would be a false conclusion.  I enjoyed the first two Left Behind books.  I loved the audio series.  I liked the second movie produced by Cloud Ten.  I can find myself enjoying Christian apocalyptic thrillers, such as Tribulation.  But I did not care for the 2014 Left Behind movie.
  2. The first thirty minutes were actually pretty good.  Chloe Steele and Buck Williams were expressing their doubts about the existence of God, mostly focusing on the problem of evil.  Rayford Steele was justifying his wife’s religious conversion to his daughter, Chloe, who thought that her mom had gone off the deep end.  There was not much religious or philosophical substance afterwards, though.  There was a lot of focus on landing the plane.  I found that to be boring.
  3.  The actress who played Hattie was nice to look at.
  4. Until they were raptured, there was nothing really that stood out to me about the Christians.  They were not necessarily nicer than the non-believers who got left behind.  They were nice, but even some of the non-believers were good people who tried to help others.  That may be a point that the movie was trying to make: salvation is not about being a good person, but is about receiving God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ.  Nowadays, though, my theology and religious/spiritual life do interrelate with the question of what type of person I should be; at the same time, I am still a believer in humbly accepting God’s free grace.
  5. One thought that occurred to me as I watched this movie was: “Is this true?”  Of course, that is the question that the makers of the movie want the viewers to ask themselves.   I tried to recall to my mind the arguments for and against Christian apologetics and historical criticism of the Bible, and the arguments for and against the pretribulational rapture.  I recoiled from the thought of returning to fundamentalism, feeling that, with all of my flaws, I am still in a better place now than I was then.  In the end, I recalled a post that I wrote a while back about being ready for the second coming of Christ, and I settled on what I wrote there.  I believe that I have a connection with God, even if I do not dismiss atheist or unorthodox books as from the devil, or try to pressure or manipulate people into accepting evangelical Christianity.

This post was not as long as I expected it to be, so allow me to comment on something else that I watched that night.  It was a documentary about Bill Watterson, the creator of the famous and popular comic strip Calvin and Hobbes.  It was called Dear Mr. Watterson.

  1.  I was never much of a Calvin and Hobbes person.  I read it, but I liked Peanuts and Garfield a lot better.  Still, I was interested in seeing this documentary, for I enjoy comics, and it’s interesting to hear the story of someone who succeeded and made a difference in his profession.
  2. Someone who was interviewed said that he moved to a new neighborhood and did not know anybody, and reading Calvin and Hobbes gave him an anchor during that time.  It was something that he looked forward to and enjoyed.  I could identify with him there because there have been things that have helped me through periods of alienation.
  3. Bill Watterson was said to be reclusive and a bit of a loner.  Someone in the documentary said that, when Watterson could have been out there socializing, he instead stayed home and was perfecting his craft.  I hope that I, as a reclusive person, can succeed in my own way.  I also believe in trying to improve my social skills, but I try not to beat up on myself if I fall short.
  4. Bill Watterson was unusual in the sense that he did not allow Calvin and Hobbes to be licensed.  Other cartoonists did, which is why you see Garfield or Snoopy on lunchboxes, or advertisements, or as dolls.  Watterson, however, believed that this sort of commercialization compromised the craft.  It was interesting to watch Charles Schultz’s wife defending her husband’s decision to license Peanuts—-she said that he saw it as an extension of his art.  The documentary offered pros and cons about this issue.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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2 Responses to Left Behind (2014); Dear Mr. Watterson

  1. Esther says:

    Interesting linked post about being prepared for the return of Christ. As a Catholic, I tend to worry less about the Rapture, but I really like what Guardini says here:

    “Early Christianity was acutely conscious of the immanence of Christ’s coming. […] Even the book of Revelation, written at the turn of the century, ends with the words of expectation: ‘And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’

    Then gradually the feeling that His coming is immanent disappears. While the persecutions lasted (in other words, well into the fourth century), […] existence was so precarious that the unreality of earthly things was kept very much alive. Then Christianity became the state religion, the solid, accepted form of life, and the sense of general insecurity vanished […]

    Thus Christian existence has lost its eschatological quality, very much to its detriment, because with that loss the sense of belonging to the world becomes more or less self-understood. Christianity’s intrinsic watchfulness and readiness are gone. It forgets that the words ‘Watch and pray!’ (Matt 26:41, Mark 14:38) are meant not only morally, as a sense of responsibility to the divine will, but also essentially, as a manner of being. The Christian is never meant to settle down in the world.”

    In short, the eschatological character of Christianity (and of the Eucharist — with every celebration, we say, “We profess your death, O Lord, and proclaim your Resurrection until you come again”) helps me to hold loosely the things that I cling to, to see as transient the situations/institutions/etc. I perceive as permanent, to put my heart in what endures.

    “Bill Watterson was said to be reclusive and a bit of a loner. […] I hope that I, as a reclusive person, can succeed in my own way.” — I think that a lot of artists, writers, hackers, etc, are that way. In fact, I think it’s extremely difficult to do first-rate creative work without being somewhat of a recluse, at least at times.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jamesbradfordpate says:

    Soon, maybe next week, I’ll be writing a post about imminent eschatology.

    On your point about artists and writers, I recall Temple Grandin make a similar point: that a lot of inventors may have had a touch of autism.

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