Apocalypse Now Small Group
For Lent — from February 25 (Ash Wednesday) to April 11 (Easter is the 12th)
All Saints United Methodist Church

COMMENTS

Apocalypse Now Links:
Introduction
Part One – Volcano
Part Two – 28 Days Later
Part Three – Children of Men
Part Four – The War of the Lamb
Part Five – Revelation

Part Two 28 Days Later

Showing at the All Saints UMC Ministry Center, 7 PM, Friday, March 6
CHANGE – THE FILM WILL BE SHOWN AT STEPHANIE AND JEFF NELSONS HOUSE -contact me at [email protected] for directions

Directed by Danny Boyle
Produced by Andrew Macdonald
Written by Alex Garland
Starring Cillian Murphy (Jim), Naomie Harris (Selena), Megan Burns (Hannah), Christopher Eccleston (Major Henry West), and Brendan Gleeson (Frank)

[All quotes and images are employed under Title 17, “Fair Use” law, and no portion of this study is for profit.]

Notes on 28 Days Later

Note (1)

Something to think about

History is a process. One of the theologians we are using to study apocalyptic stories is John Howard Yoder.

The usual way we think of history is as a chronolog of facts and dates and names. So when we hear the word history in this section or later, we need to bear in mind that we are not talking about history in the usual way, but in the same way as John Howard Yoder; because that is how the word is being used here.

Yoder in the same way as many theologians sees history as the actual, located process of human existence, a process with which theology must struggle. The idea that human society has the freedom to sin (and its corresponding burden of responsibility) is not compatible with the idea that God moves us around like were a puppet show.

Yet theologians like Yoder confident that God didnt write us like a stage play continue to insist that the process of human history is inextricable from the cosmic direction leading to a final, great attractor telos is the Greek word. What Yoders point of view says about discipleship is that it is active, and that discipleship happens historically in identifiable and unique times and places and forms.

Think for a moment about time.

We need to get philosophical for a second.

We can think of it as an unraveling universe the terminal entropy idea. Or we can think of it in synonyms: past equals regrets, future equals anxieties. Or as emergent forms that enter and leave like ghosts leaving no visible footprints.

One way that we can try (a heuristic device, again) is to plot time along one horizontal line, and form intersecting at any point along that line. The historical process is such that at any intersection there was or is a total form for the known universe. As far as we know, every instant along this time line is absolutely unique; yet the present never leaps over the past into something New. We are creatively unique, yet we are also all vestiges of a specific, located history (a process that includes past and present).

Existence is the Now the totality of forms at the absolute present.

^FORMS
^
^ >>>>>>>> TIME >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
^
^

So time and history move together, and never apart. When people take a birds eye view of history as process they frequently find certain apparently stable forms that bind together chunks of time. We can identify something called the American Civil War. We have time brackets for something called The Enlightenment. Others will date something called the age of industrialism, the Han Dynasty and so forth.

If we think of history as traveling in a kind of trajectory, we can also identify certain periods wherein some dramatic change actually alters that historical trajectory. The inertia of chronological time and chronological history is knocked off course by these transformative interruptions of what we can call thanks to the Greeks again kairos time. Kairos time irrevocably bends the trajectory of history. Kairos is also called Gods time.

These kairos shifts were recorded by people in the time of John of Patmos as marking the beginnings and ends of ages. Telos is the unfathomably distant point to which all things are being drawn.

The telos is further down the road than a mere age. Yoder says that the church is to be a community apart, an exemplary community, and a teleological community. Our particular connection to all other kairos periods is through our story, a story in which we believe and a story that takes place in a particular time and place because it is the story of God crashing through infinity to become flesh.

In our own day, and in our own lives, we do not always record time chronologically. We record periods between events, whether it was while Grandpa was alive, or during this administration, or when we still had the kitchen yellow. This is closer to a kairos conception of time than a chronological one, because the events are more prominent than metered time.

In 28 Days Later, we reiterate that we are using the heuristic standpoint of the Ecology-Personhood-Culture Triangle. With the introduction of time as something to observe in unpacking these stories, we put that triad in motion. In discerning the historical process now (and by strong inference, in the past), we have to be aware of the ways in which the past was dramatically, almost inconceivably different. Then, and only then, we can begin to try and understand the how of that difference.

I have made many trips to Haiti. Anyone from the industrial metropolitan cultures of the US, Western Europe, and Japan that spends even a few days living with Haitian peasants, far from the road, has glimpsed the different-ness the asymmetry of historys contingent forms. We were together once (about 50 Haitian peasants and me), sharing the same actual social space. Yet, it constantly occurred to me as I looked around, our universes in personhood, the experience of being an embodied individual were very distant from one another in place and time. Their ecology, their culture, and the personhoods that derive from that ecology and culture, are not miniatures or embryos of us.

The modernist perception of historical time includes the myth of progress. This progress is seen as the telos of history (making it an idol!). Contained within this ideology of progress is the notion that Haitians or whomever are just backward, under-developed, a more adolescent form of the our very own very adult culture, inevitably and with proper instruction from we adults becoming like we are.

Not actually the case. Everything those Haitians do the day-to-day actions that make them who they are are completely different. Yet we co-exist in 2009 as part of the same Now. Not so the past. If we are to see into 1st Century Palestine, for example, we may have to find a Haiti now to remind us how far we live from the people we study in the past. Because both are peasant cultures. The ecology is different way different for us.

No particular central point here just placing a few landmarks for later.

Quote from Sondra Higgins Matthaei, author of Making Disciples – Faith Formation in the Wesleyan Tradition:

Christian identity and vocation are shaped not only by Gods work in us and participation in our faith community but also by our culture and the events in the world in which we live. We are Christian in a particular place and a particular time. The way we see ourselves as Christian is affected by our cultural inheritance, including family of origin, the region or country of our birth, racial or ethnic identity, gender, class, and age. We are affected by the events of the world in which we live, especially those events that raise questions about what it means to be faithful disciples.

This was true in 100 AD, too.

*

Note (2)

The opening scene of 28 Days Later is a montage of newsreels of the most horrific kind of mimetic violence. The newsreel montages of police riots, lynching, and other disturbingly realistic mayhem we discover are being broadcast on multiple television sets to captive chimps in some kind of lab the plot leads us to suspect a bioweapons lab. The chimps biochemical reactions to the mimetic-violence images is used somehow to create an actual virus, to be named simply Rage.

The virus will soon escape the lab as you have seen or will see where it spreads in seconds from person to person, placing them in a total and irreversible state of vicious schizoid aggression. The episodic (mimetic) violence that was being portrayed in the newsreels of mob violence directed at the laboratory chimpanzees is no longer transitory. Its a biological uber-bomb that hits humanity like a nuclear war.

28 Days Later is a quantum leap from Volcano, the idealized apocalyptic with the Hollywood conventions. 28 is a Girardian nightmare mimetic violence transformed into an unstoppable biological epidemic.

Rene Girard is a Catholic theologian who calls the spirit of the accuser in a lynch mob a Satanic spirit. But in this leap from mimesis to biological catastrophe, we only get our first glimpse of the Satanic in the fact that the lab exists at all that anyone would engineer such a thing as a lethal hyper-epidemic. Satanic in that such a real application of science would be an attempt to substitute our own sovereignty over that of God.

I think you can steer clear of most trouble by never (1) retaliating, (2) dominating, or (3) humiliating. The central message of the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth was peace. Peace requires more than chanting peace. It implies a lot of do-s and dont-s. The dont-s are a good way to start. They are not easy just because they are dont-s.