Gary DeMar of American Vision made in interesting comment in a speech on American Christianity. I paraphrase, but in effect he said:
Say what you will about Mohammedism, at least it presents itself as a faith for adults. That is probably its biggest draw. You won’t see anything like “Veggie Tales” ever in the Muslim religion.”
Though I liked Veggie Tales for my children, that is where they should remain. (One could argue that such presentations teach even children to treat sacred things with an attitude of irreverence; but, since I own such films, I am not the one to make it.) Yet the flippant attitude of those films seems to be infiltrating the Christian culture. As a whole we are blurring the lines between entertainment and education; sacred and profane; humor and blasphemy.
As Gary DeMar said in another context, “It is now time to produce a series called Meaty Tales.” I would have thought that the Creation Museum, at least in its bid for legitimacy, would try to steer clear of anything which could be construed as “childish” or “frivolous.” I would have hoped that at least their films would be a start in the direction of DeMar’s Meaty Tales. For the most part this was the case. The displays were mature and the various videos throughout the Museum on aspects of “creation science” may have been disputable in terms of facts but at least were professional in manner and presentation.
Even the Dragon Theatre film, though it reminded me of Chariots of the Gods in terms of approach, was still at least trying to treat the topic of Dinosaurs living within human history with some class. Such was not the case with the film that was designed to be shown at the completion of the tour: Men in White. The film, though trying to present the creationist side of the origins debate, was hampered by the overall silly approach taken with the topic.
Men in White went for Veggie Tales irreverence and cheesiness. The Special Effect Theater that shows the film featured a young woman sitting at a desert campfire and pondering her place in the universe. In front of her and the audience was a panoramic movie screen. On the screen, two angels, Gabe and Mike in white overalls with glowing wings and halos arrive to answer her questions.
Already I started to groan. First, the angels in the Bible are Gabriel and Michael. Calling them “Gabe” and “Mike” seemed as irreverent to me as calling the Apostles Peter and Andrew “Pete” and “Andy.” It seems so disrespectful.
Even worse was how the Angels were presented. Though they had wings of light, they dressed in white bib overalls and long sleeved t-shirts. Even worse, they talked and acted like smart-aleky, teenaged surfer dudes. One even had a frizzled goatee. For the first part of the film, I felt I was watching a repartee between angelic versions of Dumb and Dumber. I guess it was done in this style in order to entertain the audience, but I question the approach. By the time the “angels” got to their creationist arguments against the stereotypical hostile teacher, the entire silliness of their previous antics caused me to drop any credibility from anything else they said. If teenagers talked to me the way these angelic messengers did, even if I knew they were angels, I frankly would tell them to just shut up and be quiet as well.
The entire film should be reported to the Anti-Angelic Defamation League. For Biblical Literalists, Ken Ham’s group do not treat the topic of angels very literally.
The Bible does say in Hebrews 13:2 that many have “entertained Angels unawares.” It does not say “were entertained by angels. One could make a good argument that the “angels” in this verse are actually “messengers” or apostolic letter carriers as apposed to supernatural beings, framed as it is by references to very earthly brothers (v. 1) and prisoners (v. 3). However, assuming that the messengers of this verse are what we normally think of as “angels,” how do “angels in disguise” appear in Scripture.
The basic reference is the three messengers who visited Abraham in Genesis 18. Three men appear to Abraham and announce that he will have a child in a year’s time. Most theologians say that these three men were God and two angelic messengers. For all appearances these beings appeared as men. However, their demeanor was adult; their conversation was direct and to the point. There was no wise-cracking or frivolous action on the part of these angels.
What they said did prompt some laughter (verse 12), but it was their content and not their manner of presentation that generated the mirth on the part of Sarah. They acted like dignified visitors and not the three stooges.
The story is completely different when the angelic “mask” is off, so to speak. Then humans have the reaction of wanting to fall on the ground and shake with fear and trembling rather than with laughter. Ezekiel and John both had experiences of seeing God’s throne and talking with angels (awares!). Ezekiel spent most of his time on his face when encountering these beings, so fierce and frightening was their appearance.
And out of the midst came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had the likeness of man. And every one had four faces, and every one of them had four wings. And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf’s foot; and they sparkled like burnished bronze. And they had the hands of man under their wings on their four sides; and the four of them had their faces and their wings [ thus ]: their wings were joined one to another; they did not turn when they went; they went every one straight forward. As for the likeness of their faces, they had the face of man; and the four of them had the face of a lion on the right side; and the four of them had the face of an ox on the left side; the four of them had also the face of an eagle. And their faces and their wings were separate above; two [ wings ] of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies. And they went every one straight forward: where the spirit was to go, they went; they did not turn when they went. (Ezk 1:5-12. CGV)
If a being like that appeared to me, I would probably spend some time face-first in the dirt as well. In Revelation, when one of the Angels finishes his message to John, the writer also wants to fall to the ground in deference and respect. The Angel responds:
Don’t do it: I am a fellow slave with you and with your brothers the prophets, and with those that keep the words of this book (Rev 22:8)
Note, it does not say it is alright to laugh and giggle at the angel or his words. Even when Sarah was caught in her laugh, she tried to cover it up in her embarrassment. She did not encourage it with the glee that is apparent in Men in White. What embarrassed Israel in the Old Covenant appears to be pounced on with glee in our present cuture. I don’t think John (or Gabriel or Michael for that matter) would be amused.
The unfortunate fact is that Men in White represents a major missed opportunity for Ham and the Creation Museum. Imagine the impact, with today’s computer generated graphics, of presenting the angels as they appeared in Ezekiel’s vision or in John’s. The impact could have been enormous. Such a presentation would add to the credibility of the message that followed rather than detract from it. It could have been glorious in the full meaning of the world.
Instead, Ham settled for “cutesy” and “cool.” It was like giving a concert with a tin whistle when you should have had an orchestra.
I am assuming that the Men in
Bibs White is not a permanent fixture at the Creation Museum. Maybe there will be a better film next year.