The rapture is coming — again. A new television series, “The Messengers,” premieres at 9 p.m./8 p.m. Central today, April 17, on The CW because “the wheels of Revelation have begun to turn.” The end is near, and “angels” or Messengers, have appeared.
The Messengers are five select people, men and women, unknown to the others, who are gifted with the ability to heal others. Then there is “The Man” (Diogo Morgado), who wields death and destruction even though he looks like a totally hot guy.
As I watched the pilot — where most of the action takes place in a Texas hospital, at a space observatory station in the desert filled with military tanks and personnel, and a Christian church with the pastor liking his income and the son spewing out hellfire and brimstone — I could only think that this is what a Christian zombie movie might look like before society, American society, caved in on itself.
Everyone wants to get in on the Christian audience.
We have had two film versions of the rapture novel “Left Behind,” and now the same theme is being created for the smaller screen.
I remember posting on Facebook that I didn’t watch “The Walking Dead,” a post-apocalyptic show that pits survivors and zombies against each other. One Facebook friend responded, “What? And you call yourself a Catholic? Because the themes are very Catholic.” This may be true, but I have seen it twice, and I just don’t like the violence.
In “The Messengers,” we are once again getting not only explicit violence, but also the theology of “the rapture” — again. This does not come from mainstream Christianity, Catholic or Protestant. It emerged in the early 19th century in England through the Plymouth Brethren sect and made its way over to the fundamentalist preachers of the American South and beyond. True, the Book of Revelation does inspire great visuals in one’s religious imagination, but it is not to be taken literally. “The Messenger” inspires fear, but the Book of Revelation was meant as consolation for early Christian communities. For Catholics who complain that the church does not have teaching on the end times, please refer to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
If you want to watch a television show with a dramatic take on biblical themes and theology in the tradition of awesome literature (think Flannery O’Connor), try “Rectify” on the Sundance Channel. The first two seasons are on Netflix, and the third is in production.
As for “The Messengers,” if it makes it, perhaps it will show mercy and that the American military cannot win against supernatural powers. Time will tell.
[Sr. Rose Pacatte, a member of the Daughters of St. Paul, is the director of the Pauline Center for Media Studies in Los Angeles.]