Melancholia is a two-part film that follows a family’s experiences and reactions when a rogue planet passes by and ultimately hits earth, completely obliterating it.  There are a few apocalyptic themes in the movie, which range from fairly obvious to more subtle.  The most obvious theme is the destruction of the world.  A rogue planet crashing into earth is very different from what happens in Revelation, but its thematic implications find parallels in the biblical book.  It marks the end of the world as the characters know it.  Their physical existence ends, and their earthly comforts, which are rather luxurious, become nothing, similarly to the earthly possessions of those experiencing the events of Revelation in the bible.  John stresses that physical things will not help fend off the Last Judgement, as the poor/those who suffered on earth will be rewarded in heaven, and the rich/those who lived comfortable lives, not believing in God, will be doomed to hell.  However, the connections to Revelation can’t be carried too far with Melancholia.  Lars von Trier didn’t really make the movie with Christian apocalypticism in mind; he based it off his experience and struggle with depression.

Quimby’s introduction discussing, among various topics, the three types of apocalypse can be used to interpret Melancholia through an apocalyptic lens.  In the opening paragraphs, Quimby addresses the theological and non-theological approaches to apocalyptic discourse.  The film falls into the non-theological category, as it looks at an end to the world that is based on an astronomical event, instead of on one originating in heaven and the characters struggle with their own personal emotions in the face of impending doom.  However, the fears associated with theological apocalypse are very similar to those identified in non-theological apocalypse and Quimby stresses that they cannot fully be separated.  Non-theological apocalypse often derives from theological discourse, adopting its language and imagery to explain widespread disasters or suffering.

One aspect of the movie I found especially interesting was the different responses of each character to the inevitable destruction of earth and, subsequently, to their impending deaths.  They demonstrated what I think to be the basic reactions of humans when faced with dying.  One took control of his own end, committing suicide instead of waiting for disaster to kill him.  One displayed outright fear and desperation to stop death, while another accepted the end with a calm demeanor, as if acknowledging nothing could prevent the inevitable.  I would imagine if the events of Revelation were to actually occur, humanity would display similar reactions based on their beliefs and trust/distrust of the higher powers.

Children of Men and the Perpetuation of Apocalyptic Thought

“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.

Exploring the Antichrist Narrative

Keeping Landes’ concept of “semiotic arousal” in mind (in the way Brasher interprets its meaning), reading Amarasingam’s essay about “Baraknophobia” becomes an exercise in seeing America’s history as a series of events unfolding into whatever you want to read into them. Brasher says, “Once the apocalyptic lever is tripped in the human mind, almost any random event can become fodder for the widening maw of end-times significance” (164). So when we have in our minds how the narrative will develop, and there is a group of people in opposition to the current leader, anything that leader says or does is fair game for interpretation and incorporation into that narrative. For instance, Amarasingam discusses three points made on a popular video concerning Barak Obama (110). One of these points is that the Antichrist is prophesied to be a “stern-faced” king, and that Obama obviously fits this prophecy. I agree that Obama could benefit from learning a wider range of facial expressions; however, I fail to see how this becomes a red flag for the end-time. In fact, the other two points Amarasingam outlines stretch the validity of the argument even further into fallacy than does noticing how Obama scowls a lot.

Amarasingham says, “On the Internet we can be different people, experience things we could never hope to experience in real life, help in the creation and perfection of collaborative knowledge and engage in participatory media” (113). Just like Amarasingam did for his article, and David did in preparation for our blog prompt, I too typed “Obama” and “Antichrist” into Google to prepare for tomorrow’s class discussion. The fact that we three did the same exercise illustrates participation in the disseminating power of the Internet, as we simply typed some keywords and were given (in my case) about 1,300,000 results to sift through. Additionally, “the ease with which blogs, forums and Web sites are created has given rise to an alternative media” (114). The speed at which ideas are cultivated on the Internet is astonishing, and any idea is fair game for the Internet, whether or not the “evidence” for these ideas is valid. The first website* on my list when I did my search claims that Obama is not the Antichrist, and that many of the “facts” used to prove that he is are simply not found in Scripture. Amarasingam says, “Disparate threads . . . are seamlessly and effortlessly woven together into an elaborate tapestry of paranoia that is nearly impossible to disprove” (114).

We can see this in the “empire narrative” of identification markers for the Antichrist. Earlier I mentioned a video claiming there is a prophecy of the Antichrist that says he will be a stern-faced king. Obama is not a king—he is a president—but, through the concept of semiotic arousal, the word king simply means to point to a man in power; therefore, Obama still fits into this prophecy. This careful wordplay is seen all over the Internet. Furthermore, Amarasingam points to a video by Alex Jones, who claims that Obama is the “perfect Trojan horse” and that his humanitarian efforts are a cleverly disguised attempt to turn America into a “paramilitary, domestic security force” (109). These threads are picked up and placed wherever readers feel the need to put them. Most often, the right-wing/apocalyptic mentality is quoting Christian and Jewish scripture to point to how Obama is (clearly?) either the Antichrist or an agent of the Antichrist. This is the mode of divine apocalypse, which is the “discourse of religious fundamentalists” (xv).

Quinby also says, “Apocalyptic time presumes a unity by a moment of origin and a moment of end” (xvii). In order for the Christian apocalyptic discourse to work, the identification of the Antichrist is essential. Through Internet blogs and forums, this identification can be discussed. Knowing who the Antichrist is will put the rest of the Christian apocalyptic narrative into line and it will allow the faithful to be assured that Christ—the true Christ—is coming soon.



Veronica Lueken

Brasher points out that prior to the age of mass communication, apocalyptic messages could take decades to disseminate (165). Today, the Internet allows for apocalyptic fervor to be transmitted instantly, and to a vast audience. I have explored the websites dedicated to Veronica Lueken and Our Lady of the Roses; these websites function as tools for disseminating the prophecies received by Veronica Lueken that urge people toward salvation through prayer, penance, and atonement (and veneration of Our Lady of Roses). The Lady warned Veronica, “Know that the light, the voice of truth, will be dimmed in your world, so great is the darkness of the soul!  Mankind shall go through a crucible of great suffering!  The Father plans to chastise those He loves.  It will be in this way that many shall be recovered.” One of the specific impetuses for the impending cataclysm delineated by Leuken is the practice of abortions in the United States.   Lueken’s apocalyptic vision is charged with specifically Roman Catholic values as well, necessitating, according to Lueken, partaking in the Eucharist and reciting the rosary to achieve salvation. Lueken is said to have a duty, because of her Catholic faith, to spread word of these prophecies. On many of the site’s webpages are opportunities to donate money to “help spread Our Lady of the Roses’ messages to the world.” Veronica Lueken’s biography describes her as an ordinary woman who became extraordinary in 1968 through the apparitions she began receiving. The site authors legitimize her as a mystic through the physical suffering she experienced through her life, noting that Our Lady called her a “victim soul” charged with saving the Church.

Brasher notes that the Internet has created a platform on which popular Marian devotion has been able to flourish; it has not been so widespread since the Middle Ages. The site authors assert the legitimacy of the Bayside Prophecies within Roman Catholic practice, despite several bishops attempting to ban their dissemination. One aspect of the website that seems to align the Bayside group with Medieval popular Marian devotional practices is the practice of selling items “recommended” by Our Lady—amulets, CDs of the prophecies, home protection kits, etc.   Rather than a “vengeful virgin,” however, the apocalyptic Mary of the Bayside group is in many ways a fount of mercy—a protectress, intercessor, and powerful healer of the sick (the website offers a vast multitude of testimonies on these subjects). The official Roman Catholic Church, rather than dismissing apocalyptic Marian fervor, has chosen to control and defuse it through a more peaceful rhetoric.


The Hal Lindsey Report

At first glance, the Hal Lindsey website appears to be a news site.  Apart from its title as “The Hal Lindsey Report”, the sleek appearance and layout puts it on the level of major news outlets, like the New York Times or BBC.  There are numerous links to stories about current events, especially regarding Iran, nuclear deals, and Obama.  There is even a designated area for Breaking News.  However, once you start reading the story headlines and the news sources, the Christian slant becomes very obvious.  “New Fern Discovery Pokes Holes In Evolutionary Theory” and “Muslims Have Infiltrated Washington DC” are just two of the several stories that are obviously geared toward those who share Hal Lindsey’s beliefs.  Their source website, Christian Headlines, again demonstrates the Christian focus.  Interestingly, though, the website provides links to news stories that are from mainstream sources like Reuters and the Boston Herald that are not intrinsically Christian.  They appear to be selected as examples of current geopolitical events that either largely support Hal Lindsey’s and his followers’ views, or illustrate examples of evils in the world.  At the top of the home page, there are multiple links that lead to other pages of the website.  Under the one called “Links” the site lists numerous outside news sources, which, again, lists Christian based sites along with non-religious ones.

In the middle of the home page, the video of Hal Lindsey’s most recent report occupies the majority of the space, easily available for quick access.  I only watched about 5 minutes of the February 27 report.  Hal Lindsey delivers his interpretation of current events like an anchor, sitting behind a desk with a Mac tablet, sheets of paper, and what is likely a copy of the Bible.  In the first 5 minutes of the video, Lindsey discusses global climate change, and attacks agencies, such as NASA, for deliberately providing false information and hiding the truth from the public.  According to Lindsey, the agencies are promoting propaganda, not science.  Following the first segment, a disembodied male voice announces that viewers can financially support The Hal Lindsey Report by calling 1-888-RAPTURE.

The video archives go back to 2009, offering free viewing of all his reports.  The older videos are much shorter and show him much less like an anchor and more like a casual speaker.  The website also hosts an online store offering opportunities to purchase DVDs, CDs, and apparel.  Options for donating, subscribing to the newsletter, or submitting prayer and praise requests can also be found in the store.

I had a difficultly taking Hal Lindsey’s website seriously, due to its specific agenda being presented like a news outlet.  In her article, Brasher discussed popularizing and marketing the end.  I definitely identified such instances on Hal Lindsey’s website.  The online store selling DVDs and CDs of Lindsey’s teachings could be interpreted as spreading his Christian ideas, but the undertone of monetarily profiting off religion was certainly present.  Additionally, the commercial-like tone of the video segment announcing the toll free donation number did not make my impression any better.  Hal Lindsey is popular with many people who truly believe in what he has to say, but I could not get beyond the sense of commercialization on his website.

Cascadia Forest Defenders: Film Screening


Wrenched the movie
March 5 @ 8:30pm
University of Oregon, Willamette 100
Donations requested

“Filmmaker ML Lincoln’s documentary Wrenched reveals how Edward Abbey’s anarchistic spirit and riotous novels influenced and helped guide the nascent environmental movement of the 1970s and ‘80s. Through interviews, archival footage and re-enactments, ML Lincoln captures the outrage of Abbey’s friends who were the original eco-warriors. In defense of wilderness, these early activists pioneered ”monkeywrenching” – a radical blueprint for “wrenching the system.” Exemplified by EarthFirst! in the early ‘80s, direct action and civil disobedience grew in popularity. With tree-spiking, forest occupation and high-profile publicity stunts such as the cracking at Glen Canyon Dam, this group became the eventual target of FBI infiltrators, leading to the arrest of various members.”


Earth First! and Quimby

Members of Earth first! Describe themselves as ecomilitants; their prototypical slogan embodies the ideals of combat and warfare: “For Earth first! It is all or nothing: win or lose. No truce or cease fire. No surrender. No partitioning of the territory” (Foreman, 349). The apocalyptic-militant mentality, or rather, what Quimby calls “regime of power” is palpable in Earth first!’s discourse. Members say they are creating a biocentric paradigm, a new-world view; this defense, of course, is reactionary. Much like our Prophet John’s was in the NT in relation to Roman Imperial Rule. The sense of urgency in Earth First!’s “regime of power” steamrolls and further fuels their perception of the current destructive anthropocentric, or human-ego centered paradigm. This “new world view” is also consistent with Quimby’s theory of “regime of power.” Humans are destroying the earth (in a more pessimistic sense), and by the evil of their hands, the earth is now headed toward a certain end. Earth first! Members believe it is a moral imperative to fight back. By assigning a value-judgment to the destruction [read: evil] (reinforcing the us vs. them motif inherent in the apocalyptic mentality), members are able to justify their actions as rightful and good: “locating evil also [sic] presumes the possibility of salvation or an escape from evil” and further, Lorentezen says, “the fact that we are in the midst of an unprecedented, anthropogenic extinction crisis and consequently many ecosystems are presently collapsing, provides the essential underpinning and rationale for militancy. Without this claim there is no basis for urgency” (147). This is the “regime of power” that Earth first embodies, firsthand. Fueled by their deep-seeded belief of the inevitability that the earth should end at the hands of technology created by humans, they crusade, mercilessly, for their cause. No doubt, their motives are noble, but their entire discourse (philosophy, tactics, strategies) employ the quintessential apocalyptic discourse. Even as a secular entity, they have “bought in” to the enigmatic and cyclical mentality of apocalyptism. Just like John, actualizing the Romanized, gendered and hypermasculinized imperial discourse of his day to out-man the man (Imperial Rome), so too, does Earth fist! engage in this same kind of subversive discourse practice with its oppressor: technological destruction.

The “regime of truth” most associated with Earth first! Is technological apocalypse via devastation which  holds that human invention and technology are responsible for human and world devastation through threats of nuclear crisis, environmental degradation and “mechanized dehumanization” (Quimby, xvi). But, really, (I ask) isn’t it humans who should be held responsible for inventing the technology? Actually, it seems humans are the destructive crux behind all three regime of truths: divine apocalypse, technological apocalypse, Ironic apocalypse (In divine apocalypse, sin [or rather, human choice that allowed sin to enter the world] ultimately leads to the destruction of the world, in technological apocalypse, technology [created by humans] leads to the destruction of the world, and  In ironic apocalypse [humans, who invented linear time to make sense of the world, run out of what we have created]) thus, I would call the overarching regime of truth present in all three of these the antropocentic apocalyspe— but no one asked me.

Feminist members of Earth First! Claim that certain strategies and tactics first employed by the ecomilitarist group represent phallic masculinity in which the movement “preferring acts of individual bravado [sic], or mass organizing” demonstrate its radical ecological philosophy (Lorenzen, 150). Similarly, we saw something akin to this in two essays by Stephen Moore: Hypermascuinlity and Divinity and Raping Rome; the theses of both these, to one degree or another, suggest gendered underpinnings of hierarchy between the sexes, gendered rhetoric of male power and dominance and a misogynistic advent that reinforces its apocalyptic discourse. One Earth first! Member noted the inextricable tie between ecology and gender, “If we want to save the planet, we must address root causes like patriarchy and the destructive exploitative society…..we can’t separate it” (151). Subverting the aforementioned cause is the idea that “Mother Earth” (gendered female and anthropomorphic, no less) must be saved from the continuous savagery of rape that humans commit against her (again, reminiscent of Moore); But who are the ideal patron saints to conquer and to protect? Men— no doubt. The historic discourse of power, domination and hierarchy (the power dynamic ever-present in the us vs. them mentality) that is implicit in apocalypticism, is nuanced even in ecological movements such as Earth first!. Thus, the hierarchical power-relation prevails.


Gallagher: Syncretic and Cultist Forms

The closed system of interpretation identified by Gallagher consists of the text of Revelation, the interpreter, and the context. While the text remains fixed, the interpreter and the context are more fluid. The Branch Davidians formulated their concept of the divine around the image of a “majestic God seated on a throne and holding a scroll sealed with seven seals (199). “ This fixed text was the cornerstone of the community at Mt. Carmel, and provided a basis for Koresh’s “highly coherent [and] closed system of interpretation” (200). For David Koresh, Revelation encompassed all books of the Bible, and contained a singular message or truth. Koresh viewed the Bible as teaching through repetition, which is in turn how he encouraged his students to form a relationship with Revelation: through repetitive, marathon Bible Studies. Koresh’s message was surprisingly non-inclusive; it required an audience that was deeply familiar with the Bible and that was convinced of an imminent last judgment. Though this differentiates Koresh from most prophets, he did follow other millenarians in “renovating tradition. . . [and] so phrasing the new that it emerges as a more appropriate expression of what has always been agreed to be true (202).”

Though in reality it is the text itself that remains fixed, Koresh was able to cement his interpretation as the authoritative interpretation in the Mt. Carmel community. Koresh’s interpretive authority derived from his belief that he was destined to be a prophet and messiah; he viewed his role as not just a teacher of Revelation but one who would bring its prophecies to fruition. As such, he posited himself not just as interpreter but also as a key player in in the apocalypse. Koresh consistently championed the authority of the text over his interpretation, which only served to bolster his credibility. More important than his brushes with the divine (like his ascent into Heaven) were his Bible Studies that continually reinforced the “truth” of his interpretation.

The community of Mt. Carmel was steeped in the belief that significant transformation was on the horizon: they believed that for the first time the Bible was being interpreted correctly, and that judgment was imminent. This imbued the community with a sense of urgency and intense conviction. When the raid by the BATF occurred, this challenged the order of climactic events Koresh had expected to unfold. Thus, as the context of the Mt. Carmel community changed, Koresh adjusted his interpretation to accommodate the unexpected circumstances. Revelation’s message of ultimate vindication provided Koresh with a sense of comfort and certainty, and allowed him to read the deaths of his community members as martyrdom. The dichotomy of good vs. evil presented in Revelation provided Koresh and his community with a framework through which to view themselves as the persecuted churches, and thus created a situation in which Mt. Carmel viewed itself as engaged with the forces of Babylon. As Elaine Pagels has noted, this reductive and archaic view of the world renders negotiation effectively useless, much like the failed negotiations at Waco.