Sunday, October 23, 2005

Remember those "Spire" Archie comics from back in the 80's? The ones that looked exactly like real Archie comics, until the last page of the story, at which time Archie (Or Reggie or Veronica or whoever) would suddenly start reciting bible scripture while weird light rays shot out from behind their head?
I always felt really cheated by those comics. Because believe it or not, when I was about 9 years old, I liked Archie and his gang. I looked forward to seeing how they were going to deal with their problems at the end of each story. Was Moose going to pound Reggie into hamburger yet again? Was Mr. Lodge going to have a heart attack when he sees what Archies done to his car? Would Big Ethel ever get a date?
"Doesn't matter," said the Spire Archies, "cue the weird light rays and bring on the biblical quotes. Everything is allrrriiiiight."
Thats how Christianity works in general. It provides a quick, safe and easy answer for people too frightened to live in an ambiguous world. Those of us content enough (or curious enough) to live with a little ambiguity in our lives are forever defending our right to do so to these people, as if we held the less tenable position.
I started thinking about all this last night because we rented the M. Night Shyamalan film "Signs," thinking that it might be a decent two hours of sci-fi. What it turned out to be was a filmic version of those Spire Archie comics.
Mel Gibson plays a priest who has lost his faith after the death of his wife in a car accident. He lives on a farm with his brother and his two children. Alien crop circles begin to appear, on the farm and all over the world. Fearing that this is the beginning of a full scale invasion, secondary characters begin to ask Mel to hear their sins, which he grudgingly obliges. When his brother expresses his belief in gods will (fate), Mel gloomily monologues for several minutes on how there is no god and we are all alone. Eerie, discordant music plays while Mel makes his speech, as if he has lost his mind or something.
But over the course of the film, Mel will gradually gain back his faith (horray!), and with it a single minded belief in God's will. With his new found faith, and a little help from his dead wife, he defeats an alien home invader that threatens to kill his son, and watches as the aliens miraculously vanish from the earth. At the close of the film, Mel's barely conscious son peers groggily up at him and asks "Did somebody save me?"
"Yes," Mel says. "I think somebody did."
Cue the weird light rays.