Thursday, April 20, 2006

Heroic Ark? Left Behind? Whatever...

Douglas Rushkoff is an author, consultant & commentator who's recently written a book on innovation entitled Get Back in the Box. (Note: I'm not recommending this book - I haven't even finished it yet. And it's definitely got some slow parts.)

Anyway, Rushkoff is writing about the heroic arc in advertising & communication... explaining that the job of the storyteller is to "engage the audience, put them in a state of tension, promise relief and then - at the very last moment - deliver." He goes on to argue that heroic arcs, by their very nature, not only promote relief but also delayed gratification.

And it's in talking about that he wrote something that's been echoing in my head for a couple of days:

In extreme cases, like fundamentalist religious or political stories, the chaos of any given moment becomes an indication of some great impending apocalypse when justice will be done. I've seen cheeky bumper stickers that read: "In case of rapture, this car will be empty." The passengers are literally looking forward to that scenario. When we are addicted to stories with endings, we'd prefer Armageddon to no ending at all.

Rushkoff is not an evangelical Christian - which gives him an important perspective on our tendency towards "we're all gonna fly" boosterism.

I'm not saying that most Christians are longing for Armageddon - just that we can easily be perceived in that manner when we lapse into gloating about our eternal destination.

OTOH, I like stories with endings. The Bible is a story with an ending - nothing wrong with that. The problem is when we celebrate the wrong parts of the story - and, in my oh-so humble opinion, those of us in the evangelical church have more fun talking about the Rapture and "Left Behind" than we do about being fully present with God. (Which one is "sexier"? Sigh.)

Required reading:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

well written by both you and the author you quote. The tendency to gloat is one thing I have found that turns people off to Christianity, especially fundamentalism. After all, the Bible does tell us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Perhaps it's a bit presumtious to assume that our car will indeed be empty.

The whole rapture thing is shakey anyhow, when you figure that the whole concept of one being taken and the other being left behind are framed in the context that the days of Christ's return will be like the days of Noah and of Lot (Matt 24.) Well, in the days of Noah and Lot, it was the bad guys who were taken and the good guys who were left behind.