“Children of Men” explores a wide variety of issues that deal directly and indirectly with notion of apocalypse. At times, this film directly relates to elements found specifically in the book of Revelation and other points, generally referring to the New Testament. At times the Christ figure is blurred between Theo, the main protagonist and Key, the first pregnant woman the world has seen in over 20 years. While Theo starts the film as an uninterested bystander in a world now plunged into violent war, he ends as the central figure that helped usher in the dawn of new world. In a world ravaged in fear, the government in England stands as a picture of how Revelation portrays mighty Rome and her abundant power. Illegal immigrants are ushered into camps and systematically killed. Even the so-called revolutionists are trapped in political power-struggles, killing off their own leader to try and take down the mighty empire that enslaves their daily life. However, when Theo and Key meet in the barn and the revelation of her pregnancy is made known to him and the audience, the plot of the film begins to take shape. Will this child, supposed to be a boy throughout the film, be the messiah that the world need in order to bring peace? Taking a different spin than the gospel’s write it out, it’s as if the film is saying to the audience, “For I bring to you good news of great joy that will be for people. For unto us today, in the country of England, a child is born.” Key stands as a picture of Mary, both in the gospels and in the book of Revelation. People are trying to either kill her or control her. She is seen in the movie as constantly fleeing. The moment when the army is fighting it out with the revolutionists in the all but destroyed building the sweet cries of the little baby hush everyone there. As Key and Theo walk through the halls, people are floored by the infant and even the military orders their men to cease fire. They gaze upon the child, holding their arms out as if they have seen the Christ. Immediately after the baby is out of harms-way, the war continues as if nothing had changed when in reality the New Earth was about to be revealed. Throughout this film, it shows what the ending of the world probably will look like. Not in the sense of infertility driving the world into disarray, but how the world will destroy itself. Nation will war against nation, no one will be safe and the government will have total control over its people, even though their own walls will be breaking down around them. “Children of Men”, perhaps not the best acted or written film of all time still does justice to the notions and ideas of apocalypse and especially of how fear of the end of days drives apocalyptic discourse. It shows all the different types of people one would most likely find if the world really was plunging into its final days. The characters include the powerful, the political, the military, the uninterested, the righteous, the repentant, the evil-doers destined for their own demise, the martyrs, and the ambivalent. The likelihood of humanity ending at some point is high. Whether it is through the destruction of our own planet, millions of years passing before an eventual astronomical event occurs, or even the possibility of divine intervention, no one can deny that there is a life-span to the human race and the planet which we occupy. This nagging internal knowledge is what drives the entertainment world to creating movies such as “Children of Men” and subsequently perpetuates humanities interest and development of apocalyptic thought.
Eugene Gallegher’s essay on the Branch Davidian sect explores the nuances of David Koresh’s interpretive system. Gallegher points out a triangle in which Koresh models his specific hermeneutic of biblical interpretation in the form of a triangle: Text, Interpreter and Context. Gallegher admits that this system, even though fundamentally flawed is quite ingenious. David Koresh, a cult leader to most of society, was a man a man that fundamentally interpreted the whole of Scripture (and life’s events for that matter) as completely centering on the book of Revelation. Furthermore, not only was his interpretation on Revelation generally, but chapters 4 and 5 particularly. He considered himself to be the Lamb of God, opening up the seven seals. The fundamental problem with Koresh’s hermeneutic is the fact that he looks at Scripture through this vacuum of Revelation. Gallegher implies that even with this problematic approach, it strengthened Koresh’s power over his students. In moving from the Text itself, he as the Interpreter found himself in it. In a sense, one could argue that he presuppositions about what the text said guided and lead him to his conclusions. Koresh lacked any sense of objectivity while engaging the Bible. He further vindicated his own interpretation of the Text and of himself (Interpreter) by viewing Revelation only in the Context of where he found himself in Waco, TX. Because Revelation repeatedly discusses and draws on images of the persecuted faithful, when the BATF and the FBI engaged in a standoff with him, it further supported Koresh’s claim to fame. At this point, even in hindsight, it’s hard to see a different outcome than the tragedy that took place at Waco. Koresh, by tickling the ears of his blindly faithful through endless manipulative and isogetical study of the Bible, must have known that a blood bath would undoubtedly ensue. The interactions between government agencies and the Branch Davidians were ridiculous on both sides. Perhaps the side of the government was even more ridiculous. In dealing with an extremist religious sect, the more they are persecuted, the more they hold to their beliefs. Why? There is no stronger element in the human psyche other than that of devotion. These people believed Koresh was the Lamb of God, the Messiah, the Christ. The government knew they believed this. In trying to subvert Koresh’s authority, they were also trying to destroy the faith and lifestyle of people who devoted all of themselves to Koresh’s teaching. There is no way this event could have been solved with any amount of violence or the possibility of it. Even today, there are still Branch Davidians out there that are waiting for their Messiah to come back and rescue them. They are still (if not moreso) firmly committed to Koresh’s teachings. Why? Because the persecution spoken of in Revelation is something they truly believed happened to them. In undergoing “persecution” and enduring it, it is unlikely that a person would look back and change their minds, thinking instead that they (but more importantly their leader) caused this tragedy to take place. If they were to believe that all they endured was for nothing, it would shatter their understanding of God and their Messiah, Koresh. Gallegher and the stories of Waco survivors show just how dark life can get merely through one man who took a simple-minded narrow view of Scripture and twisted it to meet the desires of his own selfish and deceptive heart.
Stephen Moore’s chapter, “The Quadrupedal Christ” explores the relationship between humans and animals and the issues surrounding the image of Christ in the book of Revelation. Moore points out quite rightly that in Revelation, it is the only time in all of Christian writing where the metaphor of Jesus as the Lamb of God is not just metaphorical but actual. He is one who is “like the Son of Man” and yet glimpses back and forth between mainly human and particularly animal. Furthermore, Moore notes that is not just the Christ as a bifurcated human-animal, but is a triad of three essences, “divine-human-animal triad that bleeds into each other profusely”. Revelation, unlike other writings blurs the lines on how one is supposed to look at Jesus. Most scholarship agrees that in revelation particularly, no one renders John’s usage of Christ as the lamb metaphorically. Rather, in reading Revelation the reader is supposed to imagine this divine-lamb like creature with a curious set of horns and eyes just as it is. As to why people have traditionally read it this way is an interesting concept, especially because most people who have read this book throughout history make metaphors or images out of most other situations and characters in its story.
Moore also points out that in the entirety of the book, the lamb does not speak. It stays in the image of a slaughtered beast that forever lives. Another section in Moore’s chapter discusses the relationship between the way humanity looks at the slaughtering of animals differently than it does that of their fellow race. For example: the slaughtering of animals today, especially in the U.S. would if it were compared to humans on the same scale would not even come close to what Nazi Germany accomplished under the Third Reich. Generally today, people relegate cattle, sheep and the like as animals that die for our behalf but are not murdered for us. The difference being that humanity possesses a certain soulish quality that other animals do not. If one relates this back to Revelation they encounter a disturbing truth. The Christ, slaughtered and sacrificed in a similar way animals are today is the only means by which John shows his audience that humanity can obtain salvation. It was through cruel acts of savage men and spilled blood of the righteous God-Man-Lamb, forever in Revelation holding in part to his animality that the salvation of God has come to the world. Whether or not John intended to make this ecological comparison (most likely he did not), it is striking when one meditates on the Christ as an animal and not just the God-Man.
The final thing that should be noted in Moore’s chapter is the relationship between calling the sacrifice of an animal murder or not. Typically, we carnivorous bunch would not label the death of an animal to feed our hungry bellies as “murder”. However, if we relate that logic to the Christ-Lamb in Revelation our logic fails us. This Lamb-Christ is obviously understtod to have been murdered, and yet is pictured just as much (if not more so) as an animal than it is a human being. That being said, Moore makes the reader at least ask the question, “Is my eating an animal, or rather slaughtering one order to meet my own desires be considered murder?”
Stephen Moore’s chapter “Raping Rome” took a closer look and gender identity and gender representation regarding the book of Revelation. He starts out by taking a close look at Roma, the Roman goddess that represents the empire. She is presented as a woman who represents the epitome of masculinity. She is clothed with military might, usually holding a short spear and often seen as standing on top of shields that are represented as the armies that she conquers. Moore points out that Roma in all of her splendor was at the height imperial devotion and worship, having temples and statues made and dedicated to her. Even when she was compared and contrasted to other Roman gods/goddesses, Roma is typically shown to be a woman who is controlling and mighty, while those pictured with her are the subordinate and effeminate ones. However, Moore’s chapter centers on the idea that in Revelation, John takes the masculinized woman and degrades her to nothing more than a slavish whore. John takes a woman dressed as a man and turns her into a woman dressed as a man dressing her back into a woman.
Moore shows that this is profoundly offensive to the goddess. The queerness of gender portrayed by the goddess does give insight into the Roman understanding of gender identity. Moore explains this through the term “virtus”. He says the virtus is a grammatically feminine noun which is utterly representative of masculinity. He compares this to Roma, a grammatically feminine yet its ideology is profoundly masculine. In the amalgamation of genders, Moore shows that one’s understanding of gender is necessarily a binary view. While male is typically seen in the world as above female and one’s loss of masculinity is like climbing downward toward femininity, this helps explain what the goddess Roma represents. She, the mighty warrior is clothed in military garb to show her overcoming both sexes. She remains woman and yet becomes man. Essentially, as Moore notes, she is dressed in drag.
Moore then shifts gears and focuses on the book of Revelation specifically. He tries to make the point the John secretly loves Rome in all of his bitter hatred for her. By telling of her impending doom, he shows God and the Christ as essentially becoming a picture of the Roman empire. Just as Rome conquered and killed anything that stood in its way, so will God’s empire sweep the world with His will. He then finishes with a short discussion of trying to show Jesus as a mirrored picture of the goddess Roma. He says that Jesus is in essence androgynous. He interprets a passage of Revelation in such a way that the words in Greek could be translated as showing Jesus to have breasts. If Jesus is interpreted this way, it would indicate that John has a secret love affair with the Roman goddess and trying to fight against it. Moore’s interpretation here is somewhat far-fetched. In thinking that John has this obsession with Rome and that questions of gender comparison is in the thought process or even an influence of John’s writing is somewhat presumptuous. It felt as if Moore was trying to see something so badly that he projected his would-be conclusion into a text that is not making many social comments about the gender-ness of Roman ideology. Furthermore, his interpretation of Jesus as a mirror to Roma entirely hinges of his translation of a few Greek words. Without that translation, his argument lies dormant.
For as rosy of a picture as the Roman political powers wanted to show Rome to be, it simply was not the case. Forms of resistance to Roman authority were highly varied and practiced by all sorts of cultural sub groups. Firstly, philosophers were exiled and murdered because they offered complex ideas about democracy that would potentially subvert the power that the Roman emperors wielded over the subjects. Also, prophets, seers and diviners were treated similarly. For example Tacitus (69 ce) prophesied the eventual demise of the state of Rome, leading people to believe he was correct. Besides ideas from philosophers, prophecies from diviners or seers, or other non-violent acts of resistance, there were also forms of violent unrest. These acts of violence could range from public unrest (protesting) to outright violence in the form of riots. Augustus is even known to have withheld food from these rioters as punishment for their unruly behavior. Furthermore, violent acts of resistance also took other forms. There were pirates on the sea and bandits on the land, who would usually rob the Roman elite of their wealth, thus robbing them of their “power”. The Jews also had their own forms of resistance to Roman authority. For example, the Jews staged a sit-in at Pilate’s house when he received images of Caesar. After five days in the sit-in, Pilate ordered the soldiers to kill the protestors. However, when they showed their willingness to be martyred, Pilate withdrew the command, probably knowing that if in fact he created martyrs out of them it would only subvert the Roman authority more. Augustus and other emperors required a daily sacrifice be made twice in their names. Lower priests stopped this sacrifice in a non-violent form of demonstration against Roman authority. Josephus considered this action and the foundation for war with Rome. Lastly, resistance took its form in writing. From Jewish and Egyptian people, they wrote similarly about how Rome’s control and power over them was merely a period of God’s punishment and that eventually he would destroy Rome and lead his chosen people to rule. This is not unlike the narrative that John establishes in the book of Revelation later on. These acts of resistance are interesting due to the fact that the Roman authorities constantly and fervently tried to show Rome as a place of peace, freedom, affluence and happiness. For as much as Rome did in fact dominate so vast a population, it was never without its struggles to maintain its power over its subjects. In fact, given the amount of resistance that documented, it is fair to assume that there was a large portion of the empire that was unhappy with the way they were governed.