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Rejecting God Is Justified?

Posted by spritzophrenia on July 21, 2010

Why should you love God if she forces you to live through pain and doesn‘t keep her promises? I watched The Rapture last night. It’s the story of a bored, hedonistic woman who finds faith, and eventually loses it again.

Some reviews claim The Rapture is the best movie of 1991, and that lead actor Mimi Rogers deserves an Oscar. I’m not sure about that, but I did find it compelling. It’s an independent film, and I had to ignore the intermittent “made for TV” ambience. However, this film is not trying to convince you to follow a particular religion. Sure, the concept of “the rapture” is a common christian idea that true believers are caught up to heaven when Jesus returns. From my experience the ethos portrayed in the film is a fairly fringe kind of pseudo-Christianity, but I don’t think that’s the main point. The Rapture is asking bigger questions about belief in general, some of which will sit very well with atheists. One commenter wrote they’ve seen the film 10 times and they’re still not sure what to make of it.

Edit. The Rapture is not an easy or pleasant movie experience – don’t get it for a romantic first date.

The video below contains scenes from the movie, I’m not sure why the Foo Fighters soundtrack, but it’s a great song and worth watching for that alone. You can download the movie on BitTorrent if your local DVD store doesn’t have it.

Also see 10 Must-See Spiritual Movies.

15 Responses to “Rejecting God Is Justified?”

  1. ‘Why should you love God if she forces you to live through pain and doesn‘t keep her promises?’

    I’ll be contentious…we take responsibility for our pain – no one’s fault. Any one, thing, entity cannot promise anything, eh?

    Will rent.

  2. Iain said

    I’m looking forward to watching it! I love that actor who plays the cop, and it will be interesting to see the others in their youthful stride as actors.

    I’ll also have a look down your 10 Must See… post to see if anything catches my eye.

    Just a random thought on “spiritual movies” in general, which maybe I should have put on your other post. I’m not sure what to think about the idea of spiritual films. I mean, I think that often people don’t have a clear concept of what they even mean when they say spiritual. I think a well done spiritual film could poignantly and sensitively get to the heart of issues important to humanity, but a badly done one could (visually) put flesh on an idea that is stupid, false, or damaging. Largely I would be hesitant about a genre which has such an inherent risk attached. I don’t know if I’m making any sense here…

  3. gardenbuddha said

    The gods of religion say “Believe this or you’re going to hell”. This is a mafia fear tactic, not the way of love, and why I reject your gods.

    • Hell is indeed a very hard belief to swallow. When I was a christian I came to the point that I rejected the idea of hell. There are a reasonable number of christians who don’t believe in hell, my friend David was a pastor in a denomination where they believed most orthodox christian stuff, but not hell.

      • gardenbuddha said

        The concept of hell is a central tenet of christianity. How can they remove a central tenet and still call it christianity? You can call a cat a dog but it will never bark.

        • Well, I guess they felt it’s not a central tenet. They believe the passages about hell are better interpreted as ‘annihilation’, ie unbelievers simply don’t exist any more after death. Much as we all won’t, if this universe is purely material.

          I’m not here to justify their position, and i welcome disagreement here. I certainly came to the point of view that a loving god could not be moral if there were people being eternally tortured. Maybe I should blog on this topic some time?

        • gardenbuddha said

          I agree with you that a “loving god could not be moral if there were people being eternally tortured”. That’s an interesting idea that non-believers will simply cease to exist. I hadn’t heard it before.

        • This might help – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annihilationism

          It’s a more humane view, imho.

  4. gardenbuddha said

    Ask a believer, christian, muslim, whatever, why they are one and more than likely they will say they love god. But scratch the surface and I think the reason will be that they are afraid they will miss out on heaven. I believe the fear of hell is still at the core of most people’s “religion”. Maturing spiritually leads to the rejection of such shallow gods.

  5. Iain said

    Wow. Okay. Well I just (literally just) finished watching The Rapture.


    I found the repeated urging to love God to be REALLY sinister. It creeped me out! The whole time there was this urging to love God as though the sword of Damacles was hanging over their heads. God was never seen, only vaguely hinted at. Suffering was clearly present (as was the theme of the movie), but any kind of “humanity” (so to speak) to God was not. It held a very high christology. Too high, IMO, and the notion of “a god who risks” and an incarnate, suffering deity (as found in Christ) was entirely missing.

    Scary spokesmen for God, cultish and secretive adherents abounded, murderously insane delusions seemed the order of the day (even on the part of the protagonist), and the main theological message seemed to be “Love God Or Die”. Such a message seems to undermine the very notion of love itself.

    If I had a gun, and I was a powerful head of state, and I said to a citizen, “You *must* love me for giving you the precious gift of living within my society (OR I WILL KILL YOU)”, I don’t see how an affirmative response from them would be any kind of true example of love at all. I certainly would never believe that they loved me even if they said that they did. You can’t coerce true love, especially not through violence. Love must be earned, it cannot be forced.

    The final scene highlighted this problem especially well. As her child said, “Do you love God for giving you the gift of life?” with the threat of eternal damnation literally looming behind her words. What would they expect the answer to be? The best I could muster in that scenario would be a lie: “Yes. (please don’t hurt me)”

    The rules of relationship apply to God just as much as any person. Give me a reason to respect you and I shall respect you. Give me a reason to love you and I shall love you. Try to force me to do either and you will instead force me to do neither.

    • Yes, cultish is right. Perhaps I should have been more clear it’s not a “pleasant” movie to watch.

      • Iain said

        I would still recommend The Rapture to my friends. It’s a very thought-provoking movie. Also, I agree that, at times, the ambience was “made for TV” but the acting was generally of a good standard.

  6. So, I finished ‘The Rapture.’ Lord. I mostly found it cliché and in your face. Most of my articles tend to debunk ideology. I write about the insidious virgin/whore dichotomy which is so prevalent in this film. I saw ‘Breaking the Waves’ several months ago, because of your recommendation. It was just gut-wrenching – I still can’t shake it off. While a virgin/whore thing exists there too it is more deep to me.
    I agree with you and Iain that it was ‘cultish.’ The mythology here reminds me of fairytales.

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