December 20, 2009

Slice of PIE: Alternate History and Christianity

In this time of the celebration of lights, plastic Nativities and over-buying at Barnes & Noble, I was exercising my imagination. What if Jesus was never born and Humanity didn’t have to worry about all that “Christianity” stuff, instead exploring its TRUE potential without the baggage and hatred that is, according to some, Christ’s only contribution to world history?

This is a situation some atheists hope and work for and a few have written about. The exploration of this question is admittedly only a tiny slice of a minor branch of a huge body of science fiction called Alternate History. Even so, we’ve seen several recent “blockbusters” in film and print that take the speculation about alternate historical events to new levels.

No matter how you cut it, the movie INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS is a science fiction alternate history movie in which Jewish nationalists and American GIs assassinate Adolph Hitler and his staff in 1941. The “alternate history” is clearly illustrated by the spelling of the second word of the title – no American would misspell the word if they could help it, being that it’s been a standard epithet since 1830. While they don’t go beyond the assassination, it’s relatively safe to say that WWII would have wound down early and not dragged out to 1945 and perhaps even avoided the US use of the atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

STAR TREK (the 2009 reboot) is another voyage into alternate history – only in this case the history is in the future. In this world, a Romulan incursion from the far future destroys Spock’s homeworld, Vulcan, making its people an endangered species, which never happened in the “real future” of the STAR TREK we all know and love. The ramifications of THIS alternate future will be dealt with in the next STAR TREK movie, set to come out in 2011.

Kim Stanley Robinson, in his 2002 award-winning novel THE YEARS OF RICE AND SALT postulates a past where the Black Death killed not only 99% of Europe’s population, but Christianity as well.

A new SF anthology titled THE AETHER AGE postulates a past in which Egypt and Greece never waned and Christianity never happened.

Popular Christian writer Bill Meyers explores the same theme (without explaining why Jesus was not born in Bethlehem two millennia ago despite the fact that the Old Testament is extant) and decided to come “today” in America.

As Americans, we are enamored of poking around in our past and future. We love to explore “what if”. Christians get into the act by postulating the same. Even so, I think such diddling may be dangerous. While it’s clear that certain events of the past (or the future) are malleable and may or may not have had long-term impacts on our present (there’s a school of thought that says that even if we change past events as we know them, some OTHER event will occur that will bring about the present we know; ie: assassinate Hitler and some other dictator will rise up and serve the same purpose), I'm not sure what purpose they serve other than entertainment. This may or may not be "enough" for you, but I'm pretty sure it's NOT enough for me.

Even given that, there is ONLY one Son of God who could take away the sin of the world. No one else could do that. No one else could become God Incarnate, Jesus Christ. No one else could take on the sins of all Humanity and pay the price for them. As it says in a Bo Giertz’ HAMMER OF GOD it is all “Jesus only”. No matter what the past or present did or brings, Jesus came to Earth to redeem us and it is that blessed fact that we celebrate during this season!

While we have the freedom to play around with alternate histories, it's clear that God caused only one history to happen: this one.


Amy said...

you are such a great writer big brother!

Michael said...

there is ONLY one Son of God who could take away the sin of the world. No one else could do that. No one else could become God Incarnate, Jesus Christ.

I, sir, disagree. I also believe that the bible disagrees. Jesus' physical body is quite dead. Jesus' soul resides in Paradise, which appears to be one-way from earth toward Heaven. For there to be the second coming, a second Christ would have to be born. Now the question becomes what defines an individual as a Christ?

My personal philosophy is that, as is separate from religion, the term "god" refers to the abstract ways we approach life. The term "devil" refers to the concrete/relationship ways we approach life. This is why, for example, the Christ had to be born of a virgin - his life couldn't have required a relationship with anyone but the abstract concept of God.

The rejection of concrete relationships and embrace of abstract concepts is the primary theme of Jesus' life. It ultimately was summed up with Him telling others to stop focusing on their relationships to their sins and start living their life based on the essence of God's Truth.

On a more serious note, regarding Inglorious Bastards, have you seen any of the wonderful parodies that are out there?

GuyStewart said...

THanks sis!