26
May
11

disaster porn and cultural obsession

Last weekend was supposed to be the end of the world or so claimed self-declared bible scholar Harold Camping who continues to fail miserably at his attempts to identify the exact time [to the hour] of Judgment Day’s arrival. He has now switched the date to October 21st – I mean, who takes this guy seriously?

Yet, as a culture, let’s not be too harsh with Mr. Camping. We too have our own obsession with the idea of Judgment Day. Don’t we? From the Discovery Channel’s popular programs on Nostradamus and his disaster day predictions – to the Mayan calendar 2012 – to the vast array of Hollywood anti-Christ, apocalyptic, destruction of human race themed blockbusters [‘disaster porn’ as some have called it] – our western world’s lust for devastation seems insatiable. Apparently the German people have a term for it: ruinenlust [love of ruins].

Our fascination can be traced way back. For example, in the 13th century Thomas Celano wrote a poem about Judgment Day called Dies Irae. Four centuries later the lyrics become the most famous movement of Mozart’s Requiem.“Day of wrath! O day of mourning! See fulfilled the prophets’ warning, Heaven and earth in ashes burning!”
  Sound familiar?  Today this music shows up everywhere from The Seventh Seal to the X-Men trilogy, the musical Rent, and even in a commercial for AXE cologne.  What this has to do with smelling good – I don’t know.

Here’s my point. It seems Mr. Camping isn’t the only person fixated on the notion of Judgment Day. If we are quick to condemn his obsession with it, as a culture we might want to reflect on the reason for our own.

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1 Response to “disaster porn and cultural obsession”


  1. May 26, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    Interesting point. It’s fascinating to see how obsessed we get with apocalyptic thinking, given the number of times human societies have faced horrific disasters. In fact, I guess those regular reminders of fragility explain why we’re so interested in the End of the World…


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re: the random-ness

Husband. Father. Senior Pastor of Parkview Community Church in Glen Ellyn, IL.

Ok...so you've located the place where I put down my random thoughts. The key word here is random: music, sports, art, food, books, news, spiritual musings, weird stories, etc. I'm especially interested in how everyday experiences of life intersect with the ancient stories of Scripture. Thanks for reading.
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