Tucker and Dave vs Evil and the Theology of Fear

tucker daleAn interesting movie was made back in 2010 called Tucker and Dale vs Evil. It is a definite B-movie and I’ve only seen it free on streaming, like Netflix, so it is easy to see. As someone who has watched a great deal of horror and dark comedies, the title and description interested me. I watched it one night and laughed. It was clever and original. I can only recommend it to those that would enjoy a movie mocking the college/teen horror flicks.

The setup of the movie goes like this: a couple good ole boy rednecks (Tucker and Dale) decide to go up to a cabin for a vacation. On the way, they stop at a convenience store where a group of young college students has also stopped on their way to another cabin. These college students see the rednecks and instantly surmise that they are serial killers. A couple simple coincidences reinforce this idea, and the college students leave the convenience store glad to survive the encounter.

Wouldn’t you know, the rednecks and college students have cabins close to one another on the lake. Tucker and Dale are nice and simple guys, and as they try to meet these college students, their interactions cause even more fear in the college students, and for the rest of the movie, the college students find creative ways to kill themselves running and reacting to their assumption that Tucker and Dale are serial killers.

I love this movie. It is incredibly insightful. Yes, it is a dark comedy made to be silly and stupid and funny, but like another one of my favorite movies, Idiocracy, it makes an important statement.

Tucker and Dale were NOT serial killers, and as the movie continues, they are horrified at the deaths and try to help. But because these educated college students worked with their original assumption, they interpreted what they saw through that assumption. These educated college students were educated enough to kill themselves. They were killed by their own fear.

We live in a culture where more access to information through the internet has ironically led us to have more surface relationships, less real community, and more blanket assumptions based on less facts. We’ve become more divided and closed minded about our tribal positions while being more “educated” than ever before. This happens with every group, but the most accepted group of people to make assumptions about and demonize are the “conservative Christians.”

Conservative Christians are uneducated, bigoted, stupid, superstitious, mean, racist, tyrannical, hate science … and the list goes on. It is the one group it is acceptable to call names. You are educated and cool and progressive if you completely demonize and dismiss this group of people.

We have a current president, supposedly highly educated and tolerant and open-minded (debatable on each point), who said about people in certain areas that voted against him that they were holding on to their “God and guns.” Not possible that they disagree with his policies that trap people into poverty and are based on a lack of science, history, and logic. It must be that they are stupid. Yeah, that’s it.

Of course, we must dismiss that most of the current universities were begun by people who believed conservative values, in education, in the progress of humanity as the image of their Creator. Or that “conservative” Christians have been responsible for countless schools and the rise of education in places that others would never go around the world.

That is not to say that conservatives or Christians are not capable of horrible things. Every human is. But they also do not possess a monopoly on them.

The greatest crime among many in our media is not killing or stealing to get ahead. The greatest crime is to be a conservative Christian. Anything is acceptable except that. Anything.

And so our educated culture runs from the identity and perception with such zeal that they run into buzz saws and axes and creative ways of killing ourselves, all in the name of not being like those we demonize. Any help that conservative Christians attempt to give is interpreted based on that filter and only confirms the perception.

Fear does interesting things. They’ve done studies on the brain, and fear and stress lowers our IQ. Making decisions based on fear is more about survival than progress. Despite how intelligent we try to make ourselves sound, the root of fear is the same and the result is the same – death and destruction, like those college students with Tucker and Dale.

If we believe the wisdom of God, then he tells us that he has not given us a “spirit of fear” but “power, love, and sound mind.” God is good and wants the best for all, and if fear is a root of death and destruction, then God would want to give us something greater and more beneficial.

So what is the solution? For all of us, whether Christian or not, whether conservative or not, let us not look at another and assume because they have perspectives we do not agree with or like, no matter what the issues are, that they are immediate enemies and unworthy of input. When we make those immediate judgments, it says more about our character than theirs. And each individual is worthy of that chance to be a friend as a created person loved by God, no matter who they are.





Seeing the Kingdom in Suicide Squad

suicide squadSuicide Squad was released a few weeks ago. It has been a hit with fans and panned by critics. Certain aspects were controversial, but overall, as a writer and comic book lover, I enjoyed the movie despite it’s plot and production problems. This post, however, isn’t to weigh in as a formal critique. Instead, I will explore why it has become so popular as it is rooted in the purpose of the Kingdom. I will try to avoid serious spoilers.

Suicide Squad began in the comics. As comics became darker with Frank Miller and Alan Moore and others through the 80’s. The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen proposed the realistic concept that our superheroes might not be as moral or pure as we may have thought. That influenced everything from Superman to Batman, especially in DC, where the heroes were more “heroic” even in their personal lives, although it did affect Marvel, as well.

By the 90’s, more adults were buying comics, and so the writing matured. The heroes turned darker and the villains were humanized. What if our heroes were to turn evil or get out of control? So the gubmint in the comics decides to form a team of villains they could control.

Hence, the Suicide Squad. When the movie was first announced, the comic fans were excited. We loved the idea when it came out, and since Harley Quinn became such a popular character, seeing her in the movies for the first time appealed to us.

Even though the critics have tried to destroy the movie, it continues to be popular. Why? And how does this connect to the Kingdom?

While the writing has matured over the last 30 years, superheroes are somewhat difficult to relate to. They have superpowers we don’t have … and they consistently use them for good. It is inspiring and cool, but we don’t fully relate to it.

What we do relate to is criminals who want to do better but seem stuck in a cycle of selfish behavior.

And we relate to the reality of a large institution that will use us only if it can control us.

So even though the movie was severely problematic, it was wildly popular.

These are disturbed and decadent individuals, but their dreams were simple and universal – time with a daughter, a stable marriage filled with love, the return of lost loved ones. Redemption.

And yet their whole life, including their individual choices, are obstacles to their dreams.

These are the people the world turns to when the impossible needs to happen. They are forced to accept, but that control does not last. It cannot.

The villains are ultimately given the choice. The government can no longer control them. They could leave if they choose and not fulfill the mission. But these villains and misfits decide to do good, of their own volition. For the good of others. To save the world, they learned to work together.

It reminds me of the Kingdom. We have all made mistakes, have regrets, and lose hope. If we are honest, we are all misfits and villains. But we want to be heroes in the story. We want to do what is good and right for the right reasons. We want a chance for redemption.

Through the transformation of Jesus in the Kingdom, God gives us all that chance. The invitation is open to everyone, whether we feel we are beyond redemption or not, whether we feel filled with the devil or not. God extends his love to all, inviting us to come and participate in the power and mission to save the world from evil.

And then we join in with other villains, or former villains, to work together for good, for a mission. I pray we all find that team in our lives.



Why Christians Love Science More than Anyone Else

creationWe have developed, over time, this concept in our modern culture that assumes Christians who believe in a single God who created all that is seen (which is a very diverse group in and of itself, not simply the extreme Ken Hamm Creationist) are uneducated and ignorant and “hate” science.

To be clear, the issue is when these individuals question the scientific validity of cross-species macro evolution and evolution as a creative event. They are believers in a “flat earth” and “closed minded,” despite the evidence to the contrary.

While I will not excuse how religious authorities have suppressed certain movements either in the past or currently, I will say that some of the stories surrounding these issues are so exaggerated as to be legitimate propaganda tools more than reasonable and balanced explorations of how the very preponderance of education in the west is directly due to Christian evangelical influence, not to mention how Christianity is more involved in raising the educational level and living standards of the poor throughout the world than any other group.

None of this is the general point of this article. I am not attempting to debate how right or wrong Christians are in their beliefs or even evolutionists. The point is to help people understand why Christians, despite the propaganda, love science more than any other group.

Christians follow Jesus Christ, the Son of God. God and His Son, together, created the world and the universe through an act of word and will. Not only do we follow Christ, we believe that we are born of the Creator. We do not only have an intimate relationship with the Father through the Son and the Spirit, we are born of Him. We were born again upon repentance and God is our Father.

So when we discover the design of this world, how things work, or when we see the beauty and the amazing things that we discover as we explore (Christians are, by nature, educators and explorers since knowledge and truth are paramount in Christianity), we smile in a sense of awe but also feel a personal connection to creation since our Daddy did it.

I am a creative person. I will not say what I create is good, for several reasons, but I write songs and books. I create series for church discipleship, make them my own. My point is this – my children see me create things all the time.

And it interests them. They feel a connection to what I create. “Daddy, is that your book?” “Daddy, did you write that song?” “Daddy, I like that song.” Whether or not it is quality work, my children feel a sense of pride in something their daddy made.

I have a friend on FB, and his father passed away not long ago. His father was a blues guitarist and made a record back in the 60’s. The record is rare and goes for $2k or more online, if you can find an original. He is willing to pay top dollar for this record. Not because it is good, even though it probably is … but because his father made it.

My grandfather wrote a book called Struggle in the Coal Fields, a book which is used at universities to help study the issues surrounding the coal industry and unions in the early 1900’s. I own a copy for one reason. He was my grandfather. I bought a copy for my father for one reason, his father wrote it.

Now if you go to my children and point to a book I wrote, and you say, “Your father didn’t write that.” Of course they will argue with you. They will say, “No, he wrote it. He told me he did.” They will point to my name on the cover. They will tell you how they see my character in every line.

(As an aside, it was interesting when people read The Living Stone, they continually said, “I could hear you saying all this.”)

One reason Christians have been at the forefront of science through history is for this reason, the discovery of the design of this world and the wonder within is deepened within us, further than someone who doesn’t have a relationship with God as their Father can understand. In effect, we love science more.

I am not trying to establish that Christians are more correct or incorrect in their scientific or religious assertions, only to help those who use name calling as an argumentative device to understand instead of demonize.

When we see a sunset that takes our breath away, it is personal for us. It is our Father who took our breath away. We see His hand in the way things work, in the good science can do. Ironic that a culture that increasingly accepts someone’s self-identity as legal reality, in fact celebrates it, despite all the evidence to the contrary, will so easily dismiss a whole group of people that seek to further love their Father.

Or perhaps not so ironic after all. Our Father told us about that, too.