The Gospel According to Spike

Since it always works out for characters in the Bible, let’s go to the well one more time.  Our discussion of Buffy last week focused primarily on sin and the psyche.  We talked about the interior struggle for identity and integrity that this bit of pop culture mythologizes so well.  However, there is another side to the show that highlights another aspect of our faith: apocalypse.  Many an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer centers on impending doom that Buffy and her Scooby pals must thwart.  Sometimes, it is run-of-the-mill doom – your crazed robot, your homicidal lunch lady, your beer-swilling cavemen – but at least once a season, it is End of Times doom.

At the end of Season 2, Angelus, the evil version of Angel, and his sidekick Drusilla plot to bring the demon Acathla into the world, which, not coincidentally, will destroy it.  Spike, another evil vampire, who looks like a cross between Billy Idol and James Dean, teams up with Buffy to stop them.  In making his pitch/plea for his life, Spike says, “We like to talk big, vampires do: ‘I’m going to destroy the world.’  It’s just tough guy talk.  Strutting around with your friends over a pint of blood.  The truth is, I like this world.  You’ve got dog racing.  Manchester United. And you’ve got people.  Billions of people walking around like Happy Meals with legs.  It’s alright here.  But then someone comes along with a vision, a real passion for destruction.”  Angel and Dru are the special kind of vampires who might actually do it.

We have a lot of special vampires running around in the world today.  Perhaps all of us are.  We care so little for the world that we neglect it, abuse it, exploit it.  We do the same to other people.  All of God’s creatures are just tools for our use.

There are certainly a lot of biblical precedents for this attitude.  Right from the beginning, in Genesis 1.28, we are told to fill the earth and subdue it.  It is there for our control and use, as if the earth were nothing without our presence.  By the time we get to Paul’s Letter to the Romans, it would seem that there is nothing good about the world at all.

In fact, it is our bodies themselves that are the problem.  The flesh is weak.  Paul tells us in Chapter 8.1-11 that, “To set the mind on the flesh is death.”  And, “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”  It’s no wonder we are so confused about bodies.

The flip side, of course, is that we retreat into a bland spirituality that seeks escape.  Paul contrasts the flesh with the Spirit.  We are to live in the Spirit.  The Spirit is life and peace.  It sounds nice.  We may not want to destroy the world, but we will not mourn its passing – or ours.

And yet, God, according to the stories, made the world.  God called it good, in fact.  And God, according to the stories, became a creature like us with a body that breathed and bled.  And when all is said and done, according to the stories, we will have bodies again.  God, I suspect, agrees with Spike: “It’s alright here.”

Please join us this Sunday, 11am at Kidd Springs Rec Center, as we try to unravel our complex attitudes toward our embodied existence and place them in a broader framework of sin and salvation.

Grace & Peace,

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