Earth’s Revenge

colson2 If you watch nature shows, you may notice how often writers use terms like “nature’s wrath” and “nature’s fury”—even though we no longer believe that earthquakes, storms or lightning are caused by angry gods. Or maybe we still do. The headline of a recent New York Times article read, “On Screens Soon, Abused Earth Gets Its Revenge.” The story was about upcoming films that depict the planet’s efforts to “even the score” against the human race. In these films, the “victim” isn’t a person or group of people—it’s “the environment.” And the “enemy” is, you guessed it, us! As the article pointed out, this plot line isn’t limited to films with an obvious environmental message like the 2004 release The Day After Tomorrow. For example, if you say Transformers to parents, they’ll think of a cartoon series. The only thing they would expect a Transformers movie to advocate would be the purchase of yet more action figures for their sons to leave scattered around the house. Yet in the film version Earth is devastated, not by robots like in the Transformers cartoons, but by “environmental change.” Likewise, whereas the original “Creature from the Black Lagoon” was a kind of evolutionary monster, the updated version is the product of big pharmaceutical companies’ desecration of the rain forest. Then there’s the upcoming film The Happening by the writer-director of Sixth Sense and Signs. In it, nature, under siege from humanity, sets out to reduce the number of people. Things like wind and flowers become deadly weapons in the hands of our hacked-off adversary, Mother Earth. Now, horror as punishment isn’t new. In books and movies, the threat coming from the monster was often the personification of our guilty consciences, the result of our own folly and pride. But now, it’s personal. A vengeful Earth insists in “culling the herd,” whether by freezing, drowning, or poisoning humans. Only after it has reduced our numbers to a level where it no longer feels threatened by us will it relent in its punishment. This should sound familiar. Hardly a year goes by without some environmentalist saying publicly what others say privately: The world would benefit from a drastic reduction in human population. If we won’t control our population, nature will do the job for us. What also should sound familiar is the way that Earth is spoken of as if it were alive. It’s in keeping with the “paganism-lite” that permeates much of our culture, especially our pop culture. Like the real thing, paganism-lite treats nature and natural forces as if they were sentient beings with a will. Intelligent people will use the word Gaia, the name of the Greek earth goddess, without a hint of irony. Of course, real pagans would sometimes engage in human sacrifice to appease these angry gods or supernatural beings. The proponents of paganism-lite aren’t ready to go that far. At least not yet. That’s why, instead of sacrificing people in bogs, they make movies about angry bogs. Instead of trying to appease Poseidon, they depict Manhattan under twenty feet of water. Because reducing human population is one thing—reducing studio profits, that’s quite another.  
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For Further Reading and Information
On Screens Soon, Abused Earth Gets Its Revenge,” New York Times, 12 March 2007. “Schatzing's 'Swarm' Takes Film Form,” Variety, 8 May 2007. Regis Nicoll, “The Scourge of the Earth,” The Point, 15 May 2007. Regis Nicoll, “Some Inconvenient Truths: Global Warming and Al Gore's Film,” BreakPoint Online, 16 March 2007. Rev. Robert Sirico, “What Stewardship Means: Balancing Preservation with Development,” BreakPoint WorldView, 17 May 2005. Anne Morse, “Want to Save the Environment? Have a Baby!,” BreakPoint WorldView, 10 October 2006. BreakPoint Commentary No. 070516, “Last One Off Earth, Turn Out the Lights: Modern Desperation.” BreakPoint Commentary No. 070507, “Soothing Lies: China and Forced Abortion.”


Chuck Colson


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