This is Jesus Christ’s week — his chance to be a star for an entire week in a country of weekend Christians. If we attempt to re-visit what Christ originally stood for, we get several stories. Most Christian churches will tell you that Christ is God’s only Son which he sent down to our worldly realm to redeem us from Adam’s sin. Historians will tell you he was a man who lived and died sometime in the First Century A.D. (just the facts). Others will tell you that Jesus is the main character in a story re-made from similar legends recurring in Antiquity.
The last class of versions of Christ’s story listed above is an interesting take. Even in the 20th Century, Jesus’s story as told in the New Testament is a story whose fundamental structure fits most alien invasion/redemption stories made since extraterrestrial visitation mania started in the early 1950’s: superior intelligence from outer space comes to “recommend” that humanity change their foolish ways.
In the 1951 film The Day the Earth Stood Still, for example, a flying saucer lands amidst waiting soldiers of the United States Armed Forces (presumably newly cocky from their victory from that Great War that had just recently been concluded). The alien pilot of the ship Klaatu emerges with a strange-looking object in hand that is bristling with antennas and other high-tech-looking protrusions. But a panicked soldier fires and Klaatu, slumps down wounded.
Klaatu, travelled hundreds of millions of miles from his home planet after his people who had been observing Earth for years noticed a bustle of disturbing activities — nuclear explosions and rockets hurling objects into outer space for the first time! We were no longer a species that could be ignored. Klaatu, it turns out, came in peace and the “threatening” object he held was a gift. Nevertheless he came with a stern message to humanity: “extend this violence [and your] Earth….will be reduced to a burned-out cinder”. He was referring to his peoples’ fear that the human condition — now equipped with nuclear and rocket technology — would eventually go on to infect the rest of the galaxy.
Klaatu, in fact, had the means (as most aliens do) to make good on his threat. The robot Gort, emerges from the ship shortly after shots were fired at Klaatu. In one sweep of a beam emitted from its “eyes” Gort swiftly destroys the guns and tanks of the soldiers surrounding their ship.
I won’t spoil it for those who want to see the film, but I think most will have gotten the point by now. Jesus Christ represents something that transcends religion and time and cuts across cultures. He and his counterpart characters in many other similarly-themed stories and legends represents the better part of humanity’s sensibilities — the one routinely drowned out by the far more seductive pettiness of the Human Condition. Perhaps if we focus more on what Jesus Christ — and Klaatu — represent and less on the regalia (and dramatised technology, in Klaatu’s case) that we tend to package such characters with, then we just might have a more meaningful Easter Season this year.
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