The Applicant
AUTHOR: Michael Thompson DATE: 2/21/2005 08:48:00 PM BODY: Here I go up against Nick the Twit, for a second week. This biweekly instalment is "The Real 'Culture of Death.'" Our heroic Mr. Woomer takes, aw, who gives a shit?

If you want to have a better understanding of the United States’ cultural and political landscape, take a look at Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s wonderfully macabre 1562 painting “The Triumph of Death.”

Calling the right a bunch of Renissance nut cases? Well, they're better than you!
The imagery in “The Triumph of Death” is grim and hopeless, but it’s also dazzling and loaded up with symbolism.

It's better symbolism than any protest leftie wimps put on!
Basically, the painting depicts a marauding army of skeletal ghouls on a killing spree: People are herded into a giant box, where some unspeakable fate awaits them.

Like Saddam's Iraq?
Meanwhile, the stragglers are hunted down and broken on the wheel, strangled and drowned; they have their heads lopped off and their throats slit.

Sound's just like Saddam's Iraq or any dictatorship.
To some contemporary viewers, “The Triumph of Death” might be viewed as a bleak allegory about the annihilation that awaits each of us and the inevitable extinction of humanity.

Well, it's better than a "Worker's Paradise" like under Lil' Kim Jong Il.
To other contemporary viewers — particularly many of those on the religious right — “The Triumph of Death” must have a meaning substantially similar to the one it had for its original viewers more than 440 years ago.

Your point is???
In 1562, serious people believed in sea monsters and published learned treatises on witchcraft, sorcery, astrology, demonology and alchemy.

And idots like you would be in the stocks. What a wonderful time!
It was a time when the Spanish Inquisition was proceeding along just swimmingly and the Roman Catholic Church was still heavily invested in the execution-by-immolation business.

Joan of Arc was about 100 years dead at this point. And Henry VIII was rebelling against the Pope.
In other words, the mid-16th century in Europe was ripe for the eschatological fantasy Bruegel expressed in “The Triumph of Death.”

You enjoy insulting the views of the dead, don't you?
Obviously times have changed dramatically

Yeah, no more public humiliation as a punishment, and anyone can get their hands on the press.
. . .but the antiquated, sado-apocalyptic mentality that manifests itself in “The Triumph of Death” continues to thrive in 2005.

Did the President just declare himself Eternal God-Emporer??? I don't think so.
We know this because the religious right’s two pop-cultural milestones in 2004 — the finale of the “Left Behind” series

Anyone read this????
. . . and the release of “The Passion of the Christ”

Not quite. "The Passion" is a telling of the suffering of an excessively important man in Western history, through one man's vision. It isn't apocalyptic. It tells of what many, including myself, belive is the last, best hope for the souls of men, and the suffering he took for all, including you. My goodness, I feel like I just reguritated something from Sunday school.
— are overflowing with the same sado-apocalyptic frenzy Bruegel portrayed in his painting.

Who cares? I've got a PRT to pass.
The “Left Behind” series, written by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, is as popular as it is poorly written (the books have sold 60 million copies to date).

How many complete sets of the series is this?
Consider this perfectly demented passage from “Glorious Appearing,” the final book in “Left Behind,” that features approximately 80 pages of messianic ass-kicking that makes Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill” films look like “Full House”:

"It was as if the very words of the Lord had superheated their blood, causing it to burst through their veins and skin … Their innards and entrails gushed to the desert floor, and as those around them turned to run, they too were slain, their blood pooling and rising in the unforgiving brightness of the glory of Christ.”

Taking quotes out of context. Just a guest, you're a Militant Atheist, Nick, aren't you?
Then, of course, we have the tremendous commercial success of Mel Gibson’s tasteless gay S&M flick . . .

You know people who liked it with either interpetation? Or are you one of those, "diversity is good in theory, but keep them away from me," types?
. . . “The Passion of the Christ,” featuring the handsome young Jim Caviezel stripped naked and brutally beaten within an inch of his life. Even when viewed in the most charitable light, the movie is nothing but a particularly bloody medieval crucifixion scene set to film;

Are you calling crucifixion clean? And it ain't medieval. It's Roman.
[I]ts worldview is wholly pre-Enlightenment. No doubt many of Gibson’s supporters see this as one of his film’s greatest assets.

I'm not a supporter, but a man who rejected the very Enlightenment Constituion, you are very judgemental.
The violence in “Glorious Appearing” and “The Passion of the Christ” is purposely gratuitous and over the top. Both works are ghastly catalogs of torture, gore and death.

And every thing in the world would be neat and clean, if we could all just get along and play nice.
Jesus’ smackdown in “Glorious Appearing” is basically a litany of exploding people and horses, rivers of blood, bloody mud and … well, you get the point. In “The Passion,” Jesus is flayed alive and (literally) torn to pieces by a succession of ever-more-horrific torture techniques.

Well, the Romans were not that nice of a ruler. They were very much a do as we say, or we kill you all, innocents included, type of conqueror.
The secular analog of books and movies such as “Glorious Appearing” and “The Passion of the Christ” is almost as repugnant. The careful taxonomy of perversion — child rape, necrophilia, torture, murder

I don't think Jesus committed any of these.
— that emerges over hundreds of pages in the Marquis de Sade’s “120 Days of Sodom” comes immediately to mind.

Ah, comparing them to a perverted Frenchman. It's an insult to them.
But at least de Sade never claimed he was doing the Lord’s work, and his admirers are limited to a few students of avant-garde literature — people took their children to see Gibson’s high-budget snuff film.

Now, you like these?
I’m not suggesting that every conservative Christian necessarily embraces the sado-apocalyptic worldview that informs “The Triumph of Death,” the “Left Behind” series and “The Passion of the Christ,” but it’s definitely widespread.

I don't, but would I fit in with your view of the Right? I don't give a damm about gay marriage, I swear frequently, and I do have a sense of humor.
At the very least, there’s a huge subculture (multiple millions) of people fantasizing about the End Times around the corner.

This makes me want the world to end. Letting people like you near ballot boxes.
If the sado-apocalyptic worldview weren’t so dangerous to democracy and an open society . . .

No, Fellow Traveller. Any form of dogmatic belief, including that stupid Marxist "Inevitable Process of History" shit is.
. . . it would be easy to laugh it off as just more irredeemable stupidity from the religious right.

No, it's a view that doesn't mesh with yours, dumbass.
The problem is that sado-apocalypticism is an essentially nihilistic doctrine.

Why do you still keep getting it wrong? For many of these people, it's about a hope there is a better world ahead, and those who do evil will be punished in the end.
The only thing that ultimately matters to these people is the salvation of themselves and (maybe) others.

Saving others is a big thing. Why do so many big Evangelical Churches have huge mission programs? It's about saving others.
They hold a set of principles that basically say “in the final analysis, this world doesn’t matter.”

Isn't that postmodernism, where nothing matters?
Life, death and suffering don’t matter. Nuclear proliferation doesn’t matter. Environmental degradation doesn’t matter. Political instability and human-rights abuses don’t matter.

Actually it does. Many churches are massive support ground for these issues. I don't think theres a problem with millions beliving the End is near. If not, we'd have even bigger problems.
These people might raise a fuss here and there about, say, abortion or gay rights, but in the end, the only thing worth caring about is what an invisible man in the sky thinks about them.

Actually, that's a lot closer to the Islamic Fascism common in Saudi Arabia.
The sado-apocalyptic worldview belongs to a bygone era — the only place we should have to encounter it is in centuries-old paintings such as “The Triumph of Death,” which hang in museums.

A lot of conservative Christians like to claim that those of us who support abortion rights and voluntary euthanasia embrace a “culture of death.”

Actually you do. Killing innocents is an A PRIORI WRONG. There are things that are INHERNTLY good and evil. Killing inncoents is one.
Before they start flinging that one around, maybe they should take a look at the brand of contemptible, long-obsolete nihilism they preach, read and watch.

Ah, so the old fallacy, "Since you are imperfect, you can't criticse me!" routine. Fuck it, you really need to look around. Dr. J.J. Ray would LOVE to have a talk with you. Take a look at his monographs. I hope you don't get lost!
My thoughts and papers- updated irregularly. These are only my opinoins, do not apply these to anyone or the U.S. Government, who I do not represent.

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