Taking God Out of the Apocalypse
By Tal Brooke
1 There is a global plague from the accidental release of a new biological weapon for which there is no cure as billions are dying;
2 There is a catastrophic natural disaster creating a new wasteland or ice age and the human race is dying out;
3 Everyone worldwide has gone sterile, the human race can’t reproduce itself and watches helplessly as it dies off;
4 Superior aliens invade and exterminate the human race to take over the earth and its abundant resources;
5 World War III causes planetary destruction from some superweapon and its effects are irreversible;
6 Superintelligent machines have taken over civilization by eliminating or totally controlling human existence.
These themes of hopelessness go on and on. In most cases, the remnants of humanity are waiting to die off and have been reduced to poverty, under police-state oversight. The “entertainment industry” has poisoned the public well yet again with misdirection and fearmongering, true to its private mandate starting a century back of changing the direction of culture by eliminating Christianity and traditional morality.
Recent movie audiences and TV viewers in the millions have become obsessed with the apocalypse as filmmakers keep finding new and interesting ways to depict the end of civilization, while leaving God out of the picture. Audiences continue to lap it up. There’s no limit, apparently, to the number of times one person can watch civilization reduced to ashes.
Big media are resetting the life-expectation switch with godless themes of the inevitable downsizing of life and the need for answers from the experts.
Unlike Christian Apocalyptic Biblical warnings—in which Christ returns to intervene at critical mass to abolish evil and destruction that is out of control as God’s elect are being exterminated—secular and New Age apocalyptic themes are truly hopeless.
Included among the all-time top films in audience numbers and reviewer acknowledgment among the secular apocalyptic genre are The Road Warrior, Planet of the Apes, Soylent Green, The Andromeda Strain, War of the Worlds, The Terminator, Children of Men and The Matrix. We’ll take a closer look at some of these films. Bottom line: God is left out of the picture, but there are exceptions, like Denzel Washington playing a modern prophet Eli, in The Book of Eli, which is surprisingly powerful and refreshing. With Eli a rarity in these times, godlessness is the point among insiders who have been pushing the cultural direction. Christian-film attempts to penetrate culture are underfunded, inferior, shallow caricatures that end up being anti-evangelism. Their credibility is doomed at the starting gate in one film disaster after another, turning millions off to the Christian message.
Now and then the system “outs” itself by revealing the magician’s secrets, operating behind the curtain of deception. A good example of this is the post-apocalyptic movie The Matrix.
The Matrix resembles a huge computer game as the entire world is simulated. It seems to be operating normally and life goes on seamlessly as people go about their daily affairs, flooding streets, sitting in cafes, talking in restaurants and commuting between home and work.
But we soon sense something is terribly wrong. The few who have broken this illusion are trying to get through to one man, a hacker codenamed “Neo,” by manipulating the imagery of this artificially generated reality. Neo, the hero played by Keanu Reaves, soon suspects something is going on beneath appearances. As those already awake try to get through to him, things happen in his world that don’t make sense. One woman trying to reach him walks straight up a wall and across a ceiling after appearing in different contexts. Neo has already seen this woman at a party, where she gives him a wake-up pill, among numerous efforts to break through to him. The efforts have gotten his attention, and he is ready to wake up to reality.
Opening his physical eyes for the first time, Neo sees the very-real pod in which he sits swimming in a kind of amniotic fluid.
Neo looks off into the distance and sees identical pods, as far as the eye can see, in a terrible gray cavern with machines overhead. He reaches behind his head and feels a thick cable plugged in that has been piping in the illusory computer-generated world within which he and countless millions have been immersed. This is The Matrix.
He realizes he’s been living in an artificial womb his whole life and has never left it. The machines are harvesting the living energy of countless humans in similar wombs, all kept in thrall by the same illusory world Neo had believed was real.
His whole world is an artificial reality shared by millions through a massive computer network. The illusion melts away, revealing a grim reality. People are no more than cultivated bio-units, being used by the computer network. They have no dignity or meaning in this dark mechanical world.
The few awakened share with him the true nature of the simulated reality. It allows them to bend physical laws and gain them superhuman abilities. Fatal injuries within the Matrix, Neo is warned, will also kill one’s physical body, and Matrix-generated agents such as Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) are powerful, sentient programs that eliminate threats to the system. Neo’s skill during virtual combat training lends credence to the belief Neo is “the One,” a man prophesied to lead the insurrection of enslaved humans against the machines. He grows ever more powerful in combating Agent Smith.
Neo learns from the others who have been freed that the human race is under a cyber-dictatorship, which began after a global war in which the machines won. This is a shockingly hard reality to accept, but one that offers a doorway to freedom.
Neo realizes he is freed at great cost. He cannot return to life in the pod. Others might want to crawl back into their shells and not even deal with it.
This battle of for independence of the awakened few extends through numerous less-powerful film sequels, becoming increasingly far-fetched in this powerful illusion, what Hindus call Maya. The Matrix series is still unresolved and may have petered out.
On the viewer end of the apocalypse genre, we ask is the public is developing a deep-seated desire to watch society crumble, freeing them from the confines of modern life?
Whatever the reason, there’s no denying the public appeal of the apocalypse films, and those films set after the apocalypse, when survivors are forced to scavenge dangerous, ruinous landscapes—survivors who must navigate the fallout of a worldwide catastrophe and use all their wits in order to live, such as The Book of Eli.
The Book of Eli
The Book of Eli is a 2010 American post-apocalyptic action film starring Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis and Jennifer Beals. The story revolves around Eli, a nomad in a post-apocalyptic world who is told by “a voice” to deliver his copy of a mysterious book to a safe location on the West Coast of the U.S. The history of the post-war world is explained along the way, as is the importance of Eli’s task.
Eli was apparently blind before the global war. After finding the Bible and hearing God’s voice, he regained his sight until his task was completed (finding a safe place for the Bible). This is why he did things only a blind man would do, such as read Braille. His eyes seemed normal at the start of the film and clouded by the end.
Thirty years after a nuclear apocalypse, Eli (Denzel Washington) travels on foot toward the west coast of the former United States. Along the way he demonstrates uncanny survival and fighting skills, hunting wildlife and swiftly defeating various desert bandits who try to ambush him. Seeking water in his journey, he arrives in a ramshackle town rebuilt and overseen by Carnegie (Gary Oldman), the local overlord and crime boss. Carnegie, ambitious for power, dreams of building more towns and controlling the people by using the power of a certain book. His henchmen scour the desolate landscape daily in search of this book, but to no avail.
Arriving in town, Eli barters with a store owner and repairman to recharge his portable music-player’s battery. While waiting, he goes across the street to the town bar, where a gang of bikers attack, but he quickly kills them all in a breathtaking display of physical power and speed. Realizing Eli is a threat, Carnegie, the town heavy, asks Eli to stay, making it clear the offer is non-negotiable. After Carnegie’s blind mistress Claudia (Jennifer Beals) gives Eli some food and water, Carnegie orders Claudia’s daughter Solara (Mila Kunis) to seduce Eli, but he turns her down. While killing time, she finds his book. Unperturbed, Eli offers to share his food with her, and before they eat, he says grace. The following day, Solara repeats the prayer, but Carnegie overhears them and realizes Solara’s words relate to the book he has been seeking. He soon forces Solara to tell him if Eli was reading a book, and realizes Eli’s book is the one he wants—a Bible, possibly the last Bible on earth.
Sensing danger, Eli sneaks out of his room. Carnegie’s henchmen’s bullets seemingly just graze Eli as he excapes, as if he’s being protected. He shoots most of Carnegie’s men and hits Carnegie in the leg with a shotgun blast. Solara leaves town to lead Eli’s escape to a cave that is the town’s water supply, hoping she can accompany him on his travels. Overnight, Eli leaves her briefly trapped to continue his mission alone. Solara escapes and is soon ambushed by two bandits who try to rape her. Eli reappears and kills them. As they continue on, Eli explains his mission. He says his book is the last remaining copy of the Bible on earth; all other copies were intentionally destroyed following the nuclear war 30 years ago. He says he was led to the book by a voice in his head, which then directed him to travel westward to a place where it would be safe. The voice assured him he would be protected and guided on his journey.
Eventually, Eli and Solara find a lone isolated house along the road but fall into a trap. The old couple inside aren’t who they appear to be. George and Martha, who invite them in for tea to poison them, are cannibals. Eli and Solara realize this and leave just as Carnegie and henchmen arrive, having tracked them down. George, Martha and many of Carnegie’s men are killed in the ensuing shootout. Eli and Solara are captured. When Carnegie threatens to kill Solara, Eli surrenders the Bible, but Carnegie shoots him anyway, and leaves him for dead. Solara escapes and drives back to help Eli fulfill his mission. Rather than chase her, Carnegie returns to town, as his sole remaining vehicle is low on fuel (he has yet to discover the Bible he has is unreadable and useless). Solara finds Eli, and they drive on a long journey until they reach the Golden Gate Bridge, then row in a small boat from the shore to Alcatraz Island, where they find a group intent on preserving what they can of literature and music. Eli tells the guards he has a copy of the King James Version of the Bible. We find it is in his head. Once inside, Eli, now revealed to be blind, begins to dictate the Bible from memory to Lombardi (Malcolm McDowell), the group’s leader.
Meanwhile, back in town, the Engineer opens the locked Bible. To Carnegie’s dismay, it is in Braille. He orders Claudia to read it to him. She pretends she’s forgotten how to read Braille, telling him his leg wound has grown infected. His men have begun to run amok. At the San Francisco sanctuary of Alcatraz, Eli dies, but not before he finishes reciting the Bible. The printing press at Alcatraz begins producing copies of the Bible, and Lombardi places one on the bookshelf. Solara, though offered sanctuary, chooses to return home, taking with her Eli’s sword and other possessions.
In the Bible, the high priest Eli was blind. In the film, Eli is at least partially blind. He tells Solara, “I walk by faith, not by sight.” The Bible, of course, was in Braille; he appears to have a heightened sense of smell; and perhaps most significantly, at the end when he starts quoting the Bible, the camera moves in slowly toward his face, zooms in on his eyes, and we see they are “clouded over.” On the journey, Eli seems to function far too much like someone who can see. He shoots down a bird with a bow and arrow, takes on half a dozen brawlers at once, can pick off people from 50 yards away with a pistol, and so on. It seems his eyesight is going as he approaches the end of his mission. (The film’s worldwide earnings are $157 million and counting.) Is Eli a real prophet in a post-apocalyptic world? Probably. It has a powerful pre-evangelistic message among the few, leaving a large door open for God.
War of the Worlds
This classic film in two versions that are 50 years apart is a true cultural time-machine with amazing contrasts between eras. The first War of the Worlds movie came thundering down on my young mind with the force of a giant meteor, and to this day remains one of the most compelling movies I’ve ever seen.
I recall standing in line with my father at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, eagerly waiting to enter the afternoon matinee. I was 9 and the film had been re-released, a rare treat when long summer afternoons on the East Coast could be hot and tedious. Anticipating this landmark film that had just come to town, I was excited and expectant. As we sat down in perfect middle-row seats in a half-empty theater, I was ready for an enthralling cinematic thrill-ride.
When the curtain came down after two hours of intense drama and special effects, I sat stunned and intensely affected. It took a while for me to even get up from my seat. I had things to think about for a long time. After all, I’d now seen the classic H.G. Wells novel put to film at an age when films used to haunt me. That night, as I lay in bed looking through the open window into the night sky, I searched the heavens in quiet awe, far too energized to go to sleep at the regular time.
The backdrop of the film was small-town America, like Rehoboth Beach, where we used to spend summer holidays away from Washington D.C. before going abroad in the diplomatic service. The film captured a more innocent America and as such remains a cultural archive of an America whose gradual disappearance I have deeply lamented. I have seen the film many times since that initial viewing as a boy.
In the opening scenes of the 1953 version of War of the Worlds, a fiery object in the night sky—one of the Martian cylinders disguised as a meteor—comes down in the distance. In the foreground stands a lone church in a small southern California town—a foreboding juxtaposition.
Soon the main characters collect around this event—honest, straightforward people who live in easy familiarity and trust. There is a square dance that ends when all electrical devices suddenly die. Even wrist watches are frozen. Could this be from the meteor?
Late at night, three witnesses charged with guarding the meteor see a huge metallic top slowly unscrew. As a snake-like deathray looms above them, they approach it waving handkerchiefs as a sign of peace. They are vaporized.
Soon, a handsome young scientist appears at the crater. Police and others are on hand to keep an eye on it as it cools. The scientist is soon joined by an attractive local girl. She announces she’s waiting for Dr. Forrester and divulges her knowledge about him. The handsome scientist, played by Gene Barry, is indeed the famous Dr. Clayton Forrester, and humbly introduces himself. She is taken aback. Pretty and engaging, with a type of feminine dignity common in earlier eras, Ann Robinson plays Sylvia Van Buren, niece of the local reverend, a man held in high esteem in the community.
After the Army appears and quickly builds a bunker near the meteor site, the reverend, trying for a non-military solution, attempts to offer peaceful greetings. The Martian death machine hovers menacingly as the minister approaches it, its huge cobra-like death ray crackling and surging. From the bunker with the others, the audience looks on as he waves a white handkerchief. He is blasted into ash. Sylvia screams and runs outside the bunker as others look on helplessly at her uncle’s death, stopping her just in time.
The sheer technological power of the Martian machines is overwhelming as more meteors descend on the region. It is an invasion. Death machines emerge, hovering in the air and armed with an array of death rays. They are protected by an impenetrable force-field. The best weaponry that post-WWII America has to offer—tanks, howitzers, bazookas, even an atomic bomb—are no match against the Martian craft. People and guns are vaporized time and again.
The Army encampment outside of town knows the game is up and soon calls Washington, having seen a demonstration of their best tanks and weapons vaporized. Clayton and Sylvia are on hand along with military top brass in a special bunker and all suited-up to watch an A-bomb dropped on the craft. It is a dramatic demonstration. But the Martian craft emerge from the mushroom cloud unscathed.
After the bunker outside town is abandoned and the rest of the military scatter, Sylvia and Dr. Forrester are thrown together in a common mission. He takes her to his plane to escape before the Martian craft annihilate the region. It is a frantic ride of evading death beams as he flies dangerously low between trees. Finally he crashes in a field. They are both exhausted and run for cover.
Some distance from his crashed plane, Dr. Forrester holds Sylvia in his arms as she sleeps. Their affection is un-selfconscious and spontaneous. It is a thing of beauty, a rare diamond, in a vast cosmos. In the most convincing way we see how this most rare flower of human love is formed and know that it is something of unquantifiable value.
This innocent moment of their affection, he holding her in the field, is filmed and graciously preserved long before the strident voices coming from the war of the sexes, radical feminism and gay, lesbian and transgender groups descend on the national scene in vituperative power. And what a welcome break it is to have all these angry twisted voices, constantly haranguing the public forum of America (and given carte blanche by today’s media) off-stage and absent from the landscape of our perception in this earlier film. In today’s films the progressive quota is now obligatory (strange how market share is dropping as audiences resist Hollywood’s social toxins).
Nevertheless, against a backdrop of escalating conflict, we see convincingly how love and affection develop between this attractive man and woman as issues of mortal risk become inevitable. We see love between a man and a woman in their prime as a poignant statement about human worth and divine intent. On a lesser level, examples of honor, bravery and loyalty among the townspeople, out-gunned by this awesome enemy from space, show further examples of human worth.
As Sylvia wakes up, they try to evade the death machines. Clayton and Sylvia head for an abandoned farmhouse. She cooks them a classic farm breakfast. But soon a Martian war machine is nearby. They hide in the shadows of the damaged farmhouse as a surveillance monitor snakes about, its machine face glowing red/green/blue. (RGB had become the cutting-edge technology of the time, allowing this new generation of films to be in Technicolor.)
Note: David Sarnoff, founder of both RCA and NBC and a key player in Paramount, had just won a huge decision from the FCC in favor of his patented color technology, Technicolor, hence the highly visible RGB color signature tied to the alien craft in the Paramount production.
Meanwhile, Clayton and Sylvia successfully dodge the surveillance monitor. Soon it coils back into the craft like a huge metallic anaconda. Next a real Martian, a grotesque creature, enters the house. We see a long hand touching Sylvia’s shoulder from behind. She is aghast. It is a leathery, misshapen creature and the encounter brings mutual horror as both parties flee in dread. The couple knows that once the creature is back in the craft, it will vaporize them unless they find a means of escape, which they do.
Later, Forrester is separated from Sylvia in Los Angeles as crowds become desperate, stealing and plundering anything that drives along the densely crowded street. Sylvia is driving a school bus filled with her townspeople. It soon gets ransacked.
Clayton is at the Pacific Institute loading up on materials from the lab. The scientist leaves with a truck filled with vital scientific material, including items from the Martian death machine. This seems the last hope for a scientific solution. But the mindless crowd, heedless of the scientist’s warnings, plunders the truck as he drives along the crowded Los Angeles street. Having punched him to the ground, the hijackers drive off, leaving the scientist to fend for himself on the streets. We see the fallen human traits emerge—blindness, self-destruction and savagery, as we carry the seeds of our own downfall.
Clayton’s mission now focuses on finding Sylvia, if she is indeed still alive. He’s already seen remnants of her bus on the streets of Los Angeles where his truck was hijacked, and he is worried.
Now comes another cardinal insight about the America of that era. Where do people go for safety and solace? Where do they go for comfort and hope? Answer: The church.
The young scientist knows if he wants to find Sylvia, a devout believer, his best chance is to search the churches. He finds three of them. Each scene is touching. Then he enters a large sanctuary and spots Sylvia tending to someone in a pew. Clayton Forrester and Sylvia glimpse each other, rush desperately and embrace. The world is on the brink of ruin and each precious second together is beyond value. But there are needs even greater than theirs.
It becomes increasingly clear that only One greater than man will be able to save the human race. God.
In the churches, the prayers are impassioned and ever more desperate, calling on God for a miracle of deliverance. There is every fear that the churches will fall like all the other buildings around. But for now, they are standing as though protected by an invisible hand as the terrible glare of the Martian rays ripple across the sanctuary through the stained-glass windows. Urgent pleas continue from the rector and the congregation for some miracle of divine intervention. Mankind is at the brink.
Suddenly there is a different feeling—a sudden quiet. The loud death rays can no longer be heard firing in the distance. The crowd tentatively moves to an open area outside the church to the street. The once-colorful lights of the Martian death machine across the street go dark as the craft falters in the air then crashes to the ground. A lone Martian arm extends through a portal. Dr. Forrester checks the pulse and finds it lifeless.
The famed scientist then looks up toward the sky and remarks in awe, “We prayed to God for a miracleC9” At that point the narrative voice that opened the film continues with the observation that the earth’s smallest creatures, its microbes, by God’s grand design, destroyed the invaders, Martians with no in-built resistance to the earth’s germs.
To my young mind, an important message had been given. People sought refuge in a place that uniquely represented God’s presence, the church. They prayed to Him in desperation and their pleas were answered as the machines came crashing down. God’s greater design had intervened.
As we left the movie theater, I tucked the message deep in my soul where one day in India, I would kneel in a South Indian hotel room and call on this very God for salvation after a two-year mystical quest in India (the focus of my book Avatar of Night).
But a fully godless version of this film was on the way, produced by a Hollywood 50 years later, now out of the closet with its godless anti-Christian agenda, viewers in the palm of its hand in the long culture war. It’s important we note the difference as we look at this version of War of the Worlds, this side of the new millennium.
Spielberg’s War of The Worlds of 2005
Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds 2005 is a rough ride through an ugly world, a much-darkened America since the first film in the wake of fifty years of social change. Its people are alienated, cynical and mistrusting as they exist in a chaotic ethnically diverse soup. Unlike the dignified language of the first film, obscenities and trash-talk begin from the start. Tom Cruise, as Ray Ferrier, cusses out his punk son Robby, who is also a trash mouth and so it goes with various random encounters on the street. The language embodies the new bottom-line realism. True to Spielberg’s propensity, spectacle and not the characters is what drives the film, which is presented in the metallic gray tones of photo journalism.
Unlike the humble and winsome scientist in the 1953 film, the male lead played by Cruise is brash, egotistical, alienated from his kids, his ex-wife, and just about everybody else and is ready to take on the world. This isn’t to say he doesn’t exhibit courage—he does—but it reminds you of the impossibly contrived courage in other Cruise extravaganzas such as Mission Impossible.
Protagonist Ray Ferrier (Cruise) works in a New Jersey shipyard, operating a crane that moves huge shipping containers (Spielberg in interviews talks about incorporating post-9/11 terrorism fears). After his shift, Ferrier/Cruise races his souped-up car through nameless ugly neighborhoods of New Jersey across the bay from New York City. As he pulls into his drive, his ex-wife and her new husband are impatiently waiting to drop off the kids for the weekend. Ray’s home is a small, depressing New Jersey rowhouse that’s rapidly becoming a slum. It sits under a towering freeway with a token backyard identical to all the other trash-filled overgrown yards lined up and fenced in. The kids, in this typically dysfunctional family, are already bored and resent being stuck in a messy bachelor’s pad for the weekend without all the conveniences of their new home. Life’s tough.
But the adrenaline ride soon begins and lasts till the final credits roll. Cruise enters a frantic survival mode; his son Robby remains resentful and antagonistic; the 10-year-old daughter Rachel (Dakota Fanning) is ever weepy and terrified as the story unfolds. Spielberg fills the screen with shocked and awed faces. Rather than invasion by falling cylinders, Spielberg introduces swirling clouds and explosive bursts of lightning that Ray and his daughter look at fearfully from the backyard.
True to Wells’ novel, rather than in hovering crafts of the first film, the alien craft tower in the sky, huge metallic tripods armed with devastating destructive power. It seems the tripods have been hidden underground for the right moment of invasion.
The first tripod emerges from deep beneath the city streets at an intersection as surrounding buildings begin crumbling into an abyss as though being swallowed by an earthquake. People run in terror. Cruise looks up and sees this immense tripod towering way up in the air. Among the first building to go is a church, sliced in half like a loaf of bread, its steeple falling off into the street. Clearly the church won’t be any kind of sanctuary in this 21st-century film.
On the special-effects end, Spielberg’s rendition undoubtedly has the benefit of fifty years of technological advancement over the first film. He has full access to all the digital and computer breakthroughs that can put any image conceivable on the screen.
Meanwhile, there’s the inevitable Hollywood hype as Cruise makes the media rounds pushing not only the film, but Scientology, as well Katie Holmes, his latest romantic endeavor. Tall elegant showpiece wife #3, Nicole Kidman, has already been forgotten.
Yet no matter what Tom Cruise does on the screen, we are very aware that it is Tom Cruise—trying to be intense, and/or emotionally authentic, and so on. We also know he is intensely self-absorbed and aware of every nuance of expression. Charged moments of “bonding” with the kids for “emotional authenticity” feel lifeless and hollow.
On with the plot. Near the beginning, after Ray’s son Robby takes his car for a drive without permission, he manages to get into a wreck and leaves it in the streets nearby. Cruise, betrayed once again, is furious. Enraged, Cruise as Ray runs off to find his abandoned car. That’s when the first tripod comes blasting out of the pavement. It is huge. Think of being ant-sized and watching a large man with an insect bomb spraying away. Those are the proportions and the mood. Crowds are zapped, turned to powder as their clothes blow off in the wind like snow. They are chased around like roaches on the run.
After escaping the first tripod, Ray gets the kids, finds a car that works, and drives frantically out of the neighborhood, heading into the country. His neighbor who refuses to get in is buzzed, turns to powder, and his clothes blow away as they drive off.
There are pivotal points on the road—and that’s really the rest of the film. The human masses move like sewage being sprayed down a storm drain by a fire hose, that’s the feeling. Cruise is avoiding the big choked-up freeways as he drives. At one point the son is driving, enters some town into a huge mass of people near the ferry. The van is rocked by the crowd, then hijacked. Cruise tries to keep the van when he pulls out a pistol, but someone else has a pistol pointed at his temple. Ray and kids watch helplessly as the van is driven off. Then the hijacker’s head is blown off. So it goes. Now they move slowly with the crowd on foot toward a ferry.
When they eventually board the ferry to head for the Massachusetts shore, a massive tripod emerges from the depths of the water, turns the boat over as Ray and his two kids swim to shore.
The next scene is worthy of Heironymous Bosch: On a bank several hills away, they crouch in the bushes and watch three massive tripods herding people scattering ahead in terror. The terrible sound of the death rays fills the air as bodies turn to ash by the hundreds and the clothes blow away. It’s obvious this will go on till the earth’s surface is scoured of all its earthly inhabitants. And nothing on earth looks like it can stop them.
Later, on another hillside, we see the latest U.S. weapons take on the tripods. F-16s, Cobra helicopters, tanks, and so on. Out of the dense smog emerge the tripods, still standing. The planes, tanks and helicopters are burning on the ground. It is here the son announces he wants to be on his own, and leaves Ray and his sister. Soon the two hide out in a country house, encounter a lone nut, then real live aliens who enter the basement. Ray and Rachel are detected in the house and soon end up in the eating basket of one of the tripods. Now the horror element ramps up. These creatures are into eating people. Blood and guts spurt out from the tripod. Cruise’s moment of heroism comes, once he and the daughter are trapped in the food basket, to be sucked halfway into the main pod. He throws two grenades as others pull him out. The grenades, of course, penetrate the force field, and down the whole massive tripod goes.
Eventually the hellish journey ends when they make it to the door of the ex-wife’s house in Boston. By then the giant tripods have started to collapse because of the earth’s old nemesis that killed the Martians in the first film—microbes.
As the credits roll, the narrative voice of Morgan Freeman echoes H.G. Wells’ original lines about God creating the microbes. But Spielberg has something extra for the narrative voice to add to the story. Not content with God’s original casting as deliverer, the narrator closes with the additional lines: “By the toll of a billion deaths, man had earned his immunity, his right to survive among this planet’s infinite organisms. And that right is ours against all challenges. For neither do men live nor die in vain.” Spielberg’s portrayal of a depraved world that has turned from the things of God, and instead trusts itself to its own wisdom and technology, is sadly becoming all too accurate.
Indeed, the real ode in the 2005 film version is to humanism and not to God. I’m not sure what sort of world Spielberg’s survivors are going to rebuild. Certainly I wouldn’t want to be trapped in such a world.
It is also true that the second version of War of the Worlds is as much of an archive of the America of the present day as the first film recorded the America of the early 1950s.
What is sad in comparing the two versions is how much America has lost socially, spiritually and morally in the intervening decades. It has been a downward journey and America’s undoing has not even needed the Martians.
The Road Warrior
The Road Warrior (1981), listed by critics and audiences alike as one of the greatest post-apocalyptic pictures ever made, put Mel Gibson on the map as a superstar and is hailed by audiences and critics alike as one of cinema’s greatest action movies. The action picks up in this sequel years after the events of the original film, Mad Max, with Mel Gibson’s hero “Max” forced to face off against gangs running loose in the wastelands of Australia after civilization has been devastated.
The Road Warrior is far better than the original, Mad Max. An action tour-de-force, it quickly captured a devoted worldwide audience as Gibson’s character Max overcame a range of assaults by barbaric men of various types with quick thinking, determination and bravery, fulfilling the much-needed hero function in a civilization on a suicidal course.
With supplies of petroleum nearly exhausted in the near future following a major energy crisis and a global nuclear war, ex-Main Force Patrol officer “Mad” Max Rockatansky (Gibson) roams the now-depopulated and desolate desert in his scarred, black supercharged V-8 Pursuit Special several years after the events of the first film, scavenging for food, water and fuel. His only companions are an Australian Cattle Dog and a rare functioning firearm—a sawn-off shotgun—for which ammunition is very scarce.
After surviving all manner of attacks on the road, Max gets to a small oil refinery on Australia’s outback. He arrives to see the facility is under siege by a gang of marauders riding a motley collection of cars and motorbikes. The gang leader, known as “Lord Humungus,” a classic antihero, tries to convince the refinery’s defenders to surrender the facility in exchange for safe passage out of the area.
A group of defenders tries to break out of the compound, but the marauders capture, torture and kill all but one, who is rescued by Max. He makes a deal with the sole survivor: He will bring him back to the compound in exchange for a tank of fuel. The storyline continues through chaos and betrayal.
In the end, some get away from this refinery compound as Max acts as a decoy in a giant rig to misdirect the barbarians. Those escaping have the precious fuel in oil drums inside their vehicles. They cross the desert by caravan to begin a new life and Max becomes a loner and wanderer once again as the film ends in existential meaninglessness, setting up countless sequel films, none as good.
Little did the Hollywood elite realize that burgeoning superstar Mel Gibson would one day produce and direct direct The Passion of Christ (a huge success grossing $612 million), putting Christ center stage before world audiences.
The Children of Men
The Children of Men (2006) is a British apocalyptic film and is clearly in a league of its own in depth, quality and sophistication. It started out as a dystopian novel by P. D. James, published in 1992, and was given high praise by literary critics. Set in England in 2021, it centers on the results of mass infertility and social chaos—a projection of where things have been going in England. It describes a UK that is steadily depopulating and focuses on a small group of resisters who do not share the disillusionment of the masses. It is a skilled social commentary of where Britain has been heading long before Brexit and the escalating immigration crises and welfare system sinking under unpayable debt.
The film begins with a news report: The world’s youngest citizen has just died at 18, murdered by one of his fans, and infertility threatens mankind with extinction. All foreigners have been declared illegal immigrants and are rounded up by British military forces to be deported. A disillusioned bureaucrat, Theo Faron (Clive Owen), becomes the unlikely champion in the fight for the survival of Earth’s population. It is a compelling look into a world with diminishing hope, beset with poverty, social chaos, gangs out of control, guerrilla groups and a government that is corrupt and under a hidden elite (read: New World Order).
London is fractious with violence and warring nationalistic sects. There is the unexpected discovery of a lone pregnant black woman in hiding named Kee. Theo finds her and takes her on a desperate journey to deliver her to safety so she can deliver the baby. Theo learns from a friend to take her to meet a ship called the Tomorrow, a vessel belonging to an international group of scientists dedicated to restoring human fertility. In the final moments of the film, Theo, battling a lethal gunshot wound, is able to take her and her newborn out to a small boat to row to meet the ship. Theo loses consciousness just as the Tomorrow arrives and the film ends, the future of man hanging on a thread. It is not hopeful and there is no God in sight.
There’s an almost endless array of these apocalyptic, sci-fi and horror films being released under the guise of entertainment but spreading delusion to the masses one generation after another. They target each emerging generation for their vulnerabilities and weaknesses, as each one is successively less equipped than the generation before it. We approach the 90-year mark of John Dewey’s Progressive education in the public schools—a monopoly of behavior modification of the State school system, creating virtual droids divorced from common sense, real learning and moral accountability, wards of the state forbidden the Christian Worldview.
Waking Out of Spiritual Delusion
We are warned in biblical revelation that as time speeds ahead to history’s climax, strong delusion will capture the world. It will also fall upon the Church, perhaps with the kind of power seen in The Matrix. We are warned, “If it were possible, even the very elect would be deceived” (Matthew 24:24)—powerful and alarming words.
Why do people have a resistance to waking up? Because their world and everything they thought they knew changes drastically when they discover the truth, leaving them a moral imperative to reveal the truth to others—and this can be costly.
Many in our time don’t want to pay the price or have their lives interrupted, preferring to stay in their cultural escape pods, clinging to piped-in
Being awakened from under the power of spiritual delusion is like an alcoholic or drug addict being confronted by concerned family and friends in crisis-intervention counseling. The addict is usually the last to see the problem and the last to admit it. The most effective crisis-intervention counselors are former addicts who can’t be conned by smooth talk and clever rationalizations. They know the landscape because they have been there. They can help break the terrible hold of addiction if the person fully cooperates and truly wants to be freed. But the addict has to pay a price for letting go of something that has been the very center of their life for years. The addict is fearful of what life would be like without this familiar dependency.
Effectively exposing the various delusions of our time has some similarities to successful crisis intervention in which alcoholics and drug addicts are forced to confront their condition to be freed. It requires the willingness of the person to accept the truth and pay the price. If they are unwilling, the effort will be wasted. Conversion can be costly.
In successful efforts to end various humanistic, occult, mystical anti-God delusions, the false beliefs of those trapped in delusion melt away before their very eyes as they encounter the power of Christ. This was true with me in a hotel room in south India. My life changed radically in seconds, and my new life mission was to fulfill a calling of unmasking delusion and opening the eyes of others. I can imagine nothing else, especially as I see delusions become more complex and powerful.
Our hope in this ministry is to create messages in a bottle that we send out into the world. There is no better feeling than hearing back that some of these messages have created conversions and changed lives—and it happens!
Our hope at SCP is that some of the darkest, most rebellious among those younger generations deceived may awake from their delusions like Paul on the Damascus road and become powerful, fearless converts reaching out to the lost generations of our time in a language they can understand. That the new waves of converts would make the Jesus Generation of the ‘70s look lukewarm by comparison—radical converts who have seen the darkest regions after experiencing the bankruptcy of today’s most powerful delusions!
A life of purpose with God’s hand directing it is the only thing that will enable them and us to face what is up ahead in the present culture war.
We don’t know the future timetable, and most guesses have been far off the mark. But may God give us the wisdom, courage and grace to face what is up ahead in our time.
Tal Brooke is President & Chairman of SCP. A member of the Society of the Cincinnati, he has authored ten books and his work has been recognized in Marquis Who’s Who in the World and Who’s Who in America as well as The International Who’s Who of Authors. He has won three first-place EPA Awards in the nationwide contest. A graduate of the University of Virginia and Princeton, Tal Brooke has spoken at Cambridge (8 times), Oxford (4 times), Princeton, Sorbonne, Berkeley, the University of Virginia and the University of Edinburgh. He was converted in India.
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