Episode 101

Let's talk about reincarnation, end times prophecies, and the shapes of our stories today. Kendra helps us to think deeply about how the shape of time informs the shape of our story and the ways that we make meaning in the universe. 


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produced by Zack Jackson
music by Zack Jackson and Barton Willis 



This transcript was automatically generated by www.otter.ai, and as such contains errors (especially when multiple people are talking). As the AI learns our voices, the transcripts will improve. We hope it is helpful even with the errors.


Zack Jackson 00:04

You are listening to the down the wormhole podcast exploring the strange and fascinating relationship between science and religion. This week our hosts are Zack Jackson, UCC pastor and Reading Pennsylvania and I am most productive when everyone else is asleep at night,


Ian Binns 00:22

Ian Binns Associate Professor of elementary science education at UNC Charlotte, my most productive time of the day, sadly varies. Because of my ADD, I cannot pick a particular time and say that's it. It just says that it happens. And when it does I get really frustrated if people get me out of that moment, because it takes hours to get into it. So, yeah,


Kendra Holt-Moore 00:51

Kendra Holt, more assistant professor of religion at Bethany College in Lindsborg Kansas. And I used to be able to say, I was most productive at night, because I am a night owl, but the older I get, the more that varies. And I also don't feel like there is a particular time that works best if you just let the Spirit lead.


Zack Jackson 01:15

Just tired all the time. Yeah.


Kendra Holt-Moore 01:19

Constant exhaustion, and just snippets of bursts of energy. So why high? You ask?


Zack Jackson 01:38

I was asking, I was asking it very hard in my head. Anticipating that why, why Kendra answer? Why, why?


Kendra Holt-Moore 01:48

Why? Why ever? Why? Well, let me tell you, I have an answer for you. Oh, thank God. So we, we thought that today, we would talk about shapes of time, who. So shapes of time. So just to kind of start out so whenever I teach students, typically it's in like a world religions or an intro to religion class this semester. It was a world religions class, but when I'm having a conversation, in a classroom with students about different, you know, religious traditions, and how, like, what are some of the things that we can compare safely without sort of centralizing religious traditions. And one fun conversation I like to start with somewhere near the beginning of the semester, is to talk about shapes of time. And what I mean by that is, you know, cyclical versus linear conceptions of time, or, you know, some might argue also, like spiral shapes of time. And so the way this looks when I bring it up to my students is I, I typically use for my examples, Hinduism, or Buddhism, and Christianity. And I draw up on the board, just, you know, a simple like circle, and a simple, like, horizontal line, as just like two examples of shapes the circle and this horizontal line. And I talked about how, you know, time is something that we sort of take take for granted, as it's just sort of permeates everything, but we don't, we're not always like thinking about how our understanding of time, you know, like, really impacts us necessarily, or maybe I shouldn't speak for you all, but I don't always think about how time itself is like impacting my day to day, except when I'm trying very hard to get something done. And time is just slipping away that moment, or I become conscious of time, but on a grand scale. It's something that's sort of taken as just the way things are. And the way that we think about time, is I think we kind of it's easy to sort of assume, that are sort of grand notions of time and how time unfolds, that that there's nothing too complicated or like interesting about that necessarily. And, and so when I draw up this like circle and line on the board for my students, one of the conversations that I'm trying to get started is how we across like, religious and cultural traditions, we actually have very different understandings of, of of time. Time and by time I'm not not talking in this moment necessarily about like, scientific like theory of relativity, you know, kind of technical explanations of like space time. But like, cultural and social understandings of like what will happen, what has happened, what is happening and what will happen to us socially and culturally. And, and so, the circle on the board then is what I offer as like a Hindu or Buddhist example of cycles of time with regards to reincarnation and how, you know, the human soul if we're talking about Hinduism, but not not really a soul, if we're talking about Buddhism, but the the person, and the person's existence, moves through a cycle of time that is stuck in this cycle of reincarnation, of, of birth, life, death, rebirth, and that this is, the circle is, is known as samsara, if you're using a Hindu terminology and conceptions of time in samsara, is a cycle that you want to get out of. So samsara is like the way things are, from a Hindu or Buddhist perspective, in terms of thinking about time and how we exist in time, but samsara is not desirable, there are ways that you can build up better karma and be reincarnated in a way that is better or worse, contingent upon, like what kind of karma you built in your current life. But ultimately, the goal in in that version of cyclical time is to get out of the cycle to be released from the cycle. But the cycle can go on and on and on. And you can have, you know, hundreds and hundreds of reincarnations, and there's no like you, you have to there are certain practices and things you have to do in order to be released from the cycle. And, and so, you know, one of the we can put this in the show notes, but there's an article that has like some helpful kind of visuals, but I want to just kind of talk about, like, the way that this cycle of time for Buddhism is represented. And it's the Buddhist wheel of life. And you there are a lot of different I mean, if you just Google that, like, you'll find all kinds of really colorful, vibrant images that come up of this wheel of life. But the wheel of life, you can see like there are different realms, in the Buddhist wheel of life. And those are sort of the possibilities for how you reincarnate into the cycle of samsara. And so you can see like, why now, hopefully, like there's this distinction between like a cycle versus linear time, because there's not, there's not like one specific end goal that is clear to you, from the perspective of your current life, if you have the cyclical notion of time. I mean, yes, like ultimate release from it, you can see that as an end goal, but like the reincarnation cycle, it means that you, you will, again, experience what you have already experienced, you will again, experience birth, which is something that you already have experienced in the past, you will again experience you know, life insofar as you have experienced it, and you know, death will happen again and again. And again, it's not a single kind of destination point until you have achieved the right tools and practices to get out of that cycle. And so you can kind of think about like, how that might inform a person to like navigate through life itself. The other so like the linear line on the board, I uses Christianity, but I think it also applies pretty well to like the Abrahamic traditions in general of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, but I use Christianity in particular, because there's so much that has been written about Christian like apocalyptic. You know, eschatology, which is a fancy word meaning, like, study of in things, or you know, like end of time, and, and another, there are some images that we can also share, I think in the show notes of this version of Christian eschatology called Christian dispensationalism. There are different ways to kind of label this to like you may have heard Christian primo lineal dispensationalism, post millennial dispensationalism, however you slice it, it is a mouthful of a thing to say dispensationalism. But there are images, we can share that kind of show that in this version of Christian eschatology, it's not how everyone sees the end of time. But in this version of Christian eschatology that's popular in, especially some circles of like, Christian, like fundamentalism, types of theology or, you know, like some evangelical theologies, there are seven dispensations of time, and that time moves in a linear fashion. And a dispensation is just like a stage of time, I think that's the way I would describe it more simply because dispensation is also kind of a buzzy word. In this context, but there are, you know, like stages of time, that kind of unfold in this linear fashion, but the point is that we're not moving in a cycle with this conception of time, we're moving towards an end point that is the apocalyptic end of time. And after the end of time, eternity unfolds forever and ever. And it just kind of goes on in this linear, like, one, one way, there's a path a direction, and we move in that direction. And it's kind of inevitable, like, you can't really stop it from unfolding it's going to happen. And, you know, the some of these dispensations for Christian dispensationalism you have, like, the age of innocence, and that's, like, you know, Adam and Eve, you have you go up through like, 234567. But if the, I mean, I could like list all of those, but I'm, kind of move quickly. I'm timing myself this time, so that I'm not going like way over.


Zack Jackson 11:59

So it's like innocence. No innocence. Gods here, Gods there. Now it's Israel. Now. It's now it's Jesus. Now it's Yeah, yeah. Yeah, it's also inherently kind of anti semitic. Yeah, in that dispensationalism, leaves Jews behind, but go on.


Kendra Holt-Moore 12:17

So yeah, you have like innocence, stage one, stage two conscience, stage three, human government, stage four, promise, stage five, loss, stage six, Grace, stage seven kingdom age. And there are, you know, specific things that happen in each of those stages that kind of map on to biblical stories, and the stages that map on to like the time of Moses, and, um, you know, just like the time of Abraham. And all of these stages as they unfold, it's like, sort of this like, progression of like God's plan for time. And the way that that ends, is with this seventh dispensation, the kingdom age where Jesus returns and rains on Earth for 1000 years, and, you know, brings peace, and, you know, after that time is kind of over, there's like the final judgment, the white throne judgment, and then time ends and eternity begins. And that, that's kind of the the ending of this, like premillennial dispensationalist. Christian theology again, sorry, for the long buzzy terminology. But the point is that this version of time, is, is is different, like it's, it has that linear shape to it. And one of the things that I think is kind of interesting about this understanding of time, and it's, there's this like piece of inevitability. And it's not the only version of like, like, this is, I think, kind of a common kind of trope in like apocalyptic literature and thought is like, the apocalypse is coming, eventually, like, it's inevitable. And that means that you can't fight it and in some ways, believing in the inevitability of the apocalyptic moment of end of time can make some people sort of lean into that and welcome that end of time moment, if it means that the there sort of conception of time will actually like, ultimately benefit them. So for example, in like this Christian dispensationalist, Premillennialism version of the entire time. Christians who hold this, believe that they'll be gone there'll be sort of taken away by God out of out of the earth out of time so that they don't have to experience the violence and trauma of the apocalypse at Self, and that they will be, you know, held close, near and dear and safe with God and protected from the end of times. And so what this means is you have Christians who hold to this kind of eschatology are, I think more likely to say things like, well, let's just like let it all burn, because we're not going to be here anyway, like, only the unsaved will be sort of judged and condemned, but you know, Christians will be safe. So any violence that happens ultimately, it's, it's not going to affect us in the end and this kind of eternal way. And, and so I think the kind of extreme response through that kind of lens of time is, it can doesn't always have to, but it can lend itself to apathy, and even like a condoning of, you know, destruction and violence. And this is me sort of using that as an example, because there was actually an article that was published very recently in the Atlantic about this language like cautioning against the language of a new civil war that's like impending in the United States. And that the whole article is pretty interesting. But there's this line that caught my eye. And it says, you know, a several paragraphs down. And I'll just kind of like read the couple of sentences for free all that says, quote, There is a very deep strain of apocalyptic fantasy in fundamentalist Christianity, Armageddon may be horrible, but it is not to be feared because it will be the harbinger of eternal bliss for the elect and eternal damnation for their foes, on what used to be referred to as the far right, that perhaps should now simply be called the armed wing of the Republican Party. The imminence of Civil War is a given and quote, and, and that caught my eye because it's really talking about a shape of time. And, you know, like, the question that kind of arises from that, for me is like, what, what are practical implications in our behavior? When we think about, like, what our own shapes of time are? Do we have notions that lead us to an inevitable end? Is that something that we experienced over and over again? And like, is that just sort of philosophy or theological pondering? Or does that kind of impact us on this, like, deep on the ground level? And, and so that, that was, that was kind of where, where my mind was going, when I think about this, the shape of time? That's kind of why I have to start us here. No, well,


Ian Binns 18:09

says while you were talking about it, especially the last part, and I mean, y'all know, I don't have the theological background that you guys do. So a lot of times the words that are used in cotton, what are you talking about, but they may me just all of a sudden just reminded me of the Left Behind series? Yes, that was written the book series, right. And so


Kendra Holt-Moore 18:31

that is a great example, and that you have given us and reminded us that is Christian premillennial dispensationalism. Yeah. So now, translation, aka left behind,


Ian Binns 18:43

right, well, and I find it fascinating. So what's interesting is that I actually got into Reading this series in like 2000, it was when I was in the Peace Corps. And so when I was in the Peace Corps in Jamaica, and the main office in Kingston, I was had a library that we could go and just get books from and blah, blah, take with us back to our home and everything and and so I think that was the time I started getting into this series, because I saw it and I was calling God sounds kind of interesting. And so I started Reading it. And I was not very strong in my faith. Want to take that back. That's actually when I first started a Bible study, but it was a different time in my life, right? So I was 23 years old, 2223 different time of my life, different things going on. And I now that I looked it up, and just looked up left behind again to remind myself some of it and I'll be honest, I did not finish this series because I found it to be this is just my opinion. Some of the writing you know, again, I was not familiar with the language, the terminology that was being used and the description that you just provided Kendra, but there were parts of the books I found as I was going further for the series that I would skip hold sections because it felt like it was Reading the same thing I read in the book before, right? Like these long sermons from a character or whatever. And so it but I, I'm curious how would I approach the series now at this point in my life and at this point in my spiritual journey, right and starting to have a better understanding of time and just religion in general and what the underlying me I mean, I get what the meaning was, but like, talk about dismiss, dismiss, what is the word again? dispensationalism.


Zack Jackson 20:33

There you go. That word can you can approach that book series straight into the recycling bin if you'd like. Yeah,


Ian Binns 20:38

I don't think we have them anymore. I think like I ended up buying several of them and got rid of them.


Zack Jackson 20:42

That's Yes, pre trim these Corinne. Aspen's pre trib, premillennial dispensationalism is what that is essentially, with the millennial in the millennial and the pre millennial post millennial mid millennial that has to do with in Revelation talks about how there will be 1000 year reign of Christ. Before then Satan is allowed to return cause havoc, and then the final judgment. And so then the thought is the question is, when does that happen? So the pre millennial is that that hasn't happened yet. And that there will be this great time and then there'll be blah, blah, blah, then there's post millennial that's like, hey, no, that's where we are. Right now that this this kingdom age? Is is the millennial reign of Christ that the the age of the church or maybe that we're almost there. And then the trim part of that is not the trip. Yeah, the is the trick Great Tribulation, as in tribulation, right? The seven year tribulation that is foretold in Daniel and in Revelation. And at what point would the people of God be raptured out of it, so that only the unrighteous should suffer? There's some interpretations that Oh, before the tribulation, all the elect will be taken out. And that's what left behind is, there's some thought that it's midway through taken from a couple of phrases from Daniel, and then there's some that everyone will have to live through the whole thing only until the end, will then there'll be judgment on it all. And I mean, I was steeped in this stuff, my seventh grade Bible teacher had a timeline on the wall of the n times, with like, how many months in between events would happen, you know, the, the two witnesses would show up here, one of them would die, and then they'd raise and then there'd be, you know, the Antichrist would rise and he would have a mortal wound, and then he'd be healed. And then he'd be like, all along the way. We knew what the mark of the beast was going to be. And when it was going to happen, it was actually supposed to start happening on y2k. But then apparently, enough, people prayed and God delayed God's hand. Or so that's what they told me when it didn't happen. But it's, it's ironic to me that this group of people has latched on to second temple apocalyptic literature, which is this period of time, it's like a 300 year period, during the Second Temple of Jerusalem, where this genre starts to arise. They've taken that and applied it directly to this sort of straight line timeline that you're talking about Kendra, that, you know, this thing hasn't happened yet. But here are the signs to know when it's going to happen and what it's going to look like. And that goes from A to B to C to D onward until the end, it's a straight line. When that is the exact opposite of the way that second temple apocalyptic literature is written and met to be read. If you look at Daniel and parts of Jesus's little Apocalypse on the on the mountain and and the book of Revelation, and you know, all of the ones that didn't make it into the the Hebrew and Christian canons, they're all using coded language for things that are happening in the moment. Now, there's a great, great part in Daniel, in which they're talking about kings of the north, and kings of the south and marriages that between them and wars between them. And it's very clearly talking about the battles between the Seleucids and the Ptolemies. And like, historically, we know this, this is lining up exactly what it is until the desolation of the abomination of desolation. And then there's a straight war and then God comes down with his angels and saves the day. Which we know didn't happen, at least not in any kind of final sort of a way. So then, what do you do with that? Well, that's how all of them are written. They're all written with this great symbolism of things of awful apocalyptic sort of images. And, in the end Godwin's, and I say apocalyptic that word means to reveal to pull back the curtain. And so what that whole genre is doing is it says hey, You see these things happening in real life, but I'm going to pull back the curtain and show you the spiritual realities behind them. So you think Rome is this unstoppable force, but hey, pull back the curtain, and it's actually just this ugly dragon. And the ugly Dragon is going to be thrown into the pit of fire. So these books were meant to be read by people who are currently suffering, so that they can put themselves in the story. And then see that in the end, God rescues them. So in a way, second temple apocalyptic literature is like a green screen, in which generation upon generation upon generation can stand in front of it and put themselves in the story. So the, the beast from Revelation is originally Nero. And then, you know, it might be Domitian. And then it might be valerian. And then it might be Stalin, you know, like, you can put you can make the beast, any number of things, as it has been, I mean, Martin Luther said, that was the pope at one point. And, you know, for all intents and purposes, for him, it was, because that's the point is these, these, these prophetic visions are cycles of things that they're true because they keep happening. And then the point is, you get to put yourself in it, and then you get to see that God is faithful, and that you'll be brought through it at the end. And so to take that kind of genre of literature, and then to take that, that circle down that spiral, and to just stretch it out and say, All right, this is what it means. This is the start. And the end of the end times is just a It's such, it's so dishonest, and disingenuous. And it's it. It does violence to the Scriptures themselves.


Kendra Holt-Moore 26:54

It also sounds a little bit like, I don't know if you necessarily intended it this way back, but like the, it seems like people when they're in the moment, especially with this dislike genre of like apocalyptic literature, being in it. The those like apocalyptic tropes, like they, it feels linear, because it's like, the cycle that you are experiencing, but you don't see it as a cycle. And, you know, obviously, like we've kind of used the premillennial left behind type eschatology is that but like, the, it's kind of easier to identify the genre of literature as a cycle, if you're sort of using hindsight to see that this happens again, and again, and again. Is that Is that how you would characterize


Zack Jackson 27:48

that's a really good insight there. It doesn't feel like a cycle while you're in it. But I think that's the power of once you realize that it is. So then, you know, everything looks bleak right now in the world. It does. And it seems like the cups, the bowls of judgment are being poured out upon us all. So then to be able to keep turning through the book of Revelation to get to the part where death itself, hell itself is thrown into the pit of fire and destroyed. And then every knee boughs and every tongue confesses, and all things are made new, and there's streams of living water and to be able to get to that point. Is there some some comfort in that?


Ian Binns 28:35

Well, it seems like in and I want to go back to that series for a minute. That's right, the Left Behind series that, you know, you talked about zakat being kind of a way, he's I think this is what you were saying a way of it, almost, you know, it seems to me to the way it was written was to help people relate to it, right, and then see that there'll be saved at the end and those types of things. And that's a very generalization, overgeneralization, I guess. But it's interesting while Reading more about the series, the efforts to turn them into films, and how they keep trying to reboot it. And they're actually in the process of doing that now, of redoing the series again, to see if that gets get more attention to it, I guess, and to get more people on board, this particular series, I just find that fascinating of what it is they seem to be trying to do, and I'm part of that part of me will be curious to see how will they try to connect or will they tried to connect it politically? Right in some way that you know, I saw I remember in 2011, or something, I guess it was when Obama was running the second time. I think that was right. Yeah. Chuck Norris and his wife came out talking about that election and that proclaim that if Obama won reelection, it would begin the 1000 years of darkness Oh, yeah.


Kendra Holt-Moore 30:07

This is a political strategy because it works because it's drama. And it's like, you know, the religious affiliation of these stories. They're all encompassing, and it just moves people. And ah, yes, yes. The fact


Zack Jackson 30:24

that people think that this is the worst that humanity has ever been blows my mind like, have you read history? We used to murder people for sport. We're not. Yeah, there's not so bad things are not as bad as you think they are.


Ian Binns 30:39

Yeah. But it's just fascinating how they, they, you know, a percentage of the population kind of latches on to that messaging. And they're a powerful group of people, because especially when you talk about politics, you know, they vote, you know, you get them to vote. And that's how a lot of times, some of the bigger elections they win is because people know that if we can get the more fundamentalist, Christian and evangelical Christians out to vote that most likely they'll vote for the Republican candidate. And, you know, they go out numbers that can help. And so by tying in that argument that they use obviously didn't work because Obama won a second term. But I just found that so interesting that that was a perspective they were trying to use as a way to encourage people to vote is if you don't vote, if you don't vote for Romney, then the 1000 years of darkness will again,


Zack Jackson 31:37

evangelicals going if you don't vote for the Mormon, then that's outside years of darkness. Right? Which, you know, that's not a personal knock against Mormons, but just the those same evangelicals would not consider a Mormon, a Christian normally. But how do you come back from that, by the way, like, once you've gone totally nuclear, that the world is going to end and Satan himself will reign if this man gets elected? Like, how do you then say something about someone else? Like there's no higher? You can't go higher than that you've already gone nuclear. So


Kendra Holt-Moore 32:16

worse than the Antichrist, right?


Ian Binns 32:18

What do we do? Yeah, it's just seems like such an interesting way to live. And as I said, in fact, they're trying to redo this series again. And they're using the actor Kevin Sorbo. Who did, Hercules, right. No,


Zack Jackson 32:37

yes. And then every low budget Christian movie since then.


Ian Binns 32:41

Yep. And so and he is someone the right has, you know, latched on to and he that's he's found his niche. And so he's gonna star and direct in the new movie, I will only


Zack Jackson 32:52

watch it if Lucy Lawless is in it, as well as Xena Warrior Princess, not as anyone else.


Ian Binns 33:00

Yeah. Doubtful. It'll happen without


Zack Jackson 33:03

a man can dream.


Ian Binns 33:15

This right, anyway, sorry. I know, I keep going on tangent. But I just found fascinating.


Kendra Holt-Moore 33:19

I didn't know that I didn't realize that they were trying to like reboot the


Ian Binns 33:24

and this is from last month. Hmm.


Kendra Holt-Moore 33:27

Okay. Well, there you go. So I was, you know, talking, talking through this, you know, the shape shapes of time. And, you know, I kind of our plan for today's recording with my husband, Chad. And he told me of a helpful kind of connection that might be familiar to, to many of you, but there is a piece Well, first of all, there's a writer, he was an American writer, Kurt Vonnegut, who recorded I think it was kind of like a short lecture, but also published in several places about his early writing his like, I think it was his thesis on the shapes of stories. And so I just, I think that's a really interesting kind of connection here, as we're talking about the shapes of time. Like, are we really just talking about the shapes of stories, and Kurt Vonnegut had this whole sort of, like, charting out of different shapes of stories. And so, you know, he was like, writing and publishing has like a lot of novels and was thinking about, like, the structure of a narrative. And I think you can find, you know, his, his lecture online. I think it's like a 30 minute piece, but, you know, he talks through how, you know, when you're talking about like, any kind of job of story, there's like this stair step ladder where you're climbing upward things are going swimmingly. You know, the lovers, they fall in love, and they're like having a grand time. And they're, you know, giving each other flowers and walking, holding hands through the park. And, and then something happens. And this stair step ladder going upwards, suddenly crashes into a, you know, a desolate trough. And that trough, there's this low point, and then you have a low point that requires a creative solution, and then you start moving up on the incline again, and you know, maybe it flattens out, there's a plateau. And then maybe there's like another, a deeper crash, a deeper trough. And then the end of the story can maybe resolve coming again, out of the trough back up into an incline, that just keeps going up and up and up, and you have like your happy ending. And you know, I'm doing some heavy like paraphrasing of this shapes of stories, not something I had seen of his before. But like the point being that you can draw on like the same way that in my classes I draw like the circle and horizontal line to represent time qurbana gets it there's like a bunch of different shapes that you can put up on the board, variations of these shapes to you can have this staircase that goes up and then crashes down and then rises back up again, you can have something that looks more like a wave that bounces up and down, and up and down, and up and down, and up and down and just has, you know, twists and turns. And you can have a story that's just maybe it is a single horizontal line. And it's maybe a boring story where there's just nothing happens. And it's just plateau from beginning to end. And I you know, there are like shapes of stories that we are drawn to, and why are we drawn to those stories? Why would we prefer a story that has the, you know, peaks and valleys versus a story that's just a flat plateau all the way through? Is there you know, an excitement that comes with different shapes of stories? And like, why do we crave certain kinds of resolution at the end of a story. And it just is like, I think a really interesting and kind of perfect, like frame that Vonnegut's sort of offered that I think really maps on to the way that we think about these like big conceptions of time out of our cultural religious lenses, and that it seems that we, like we crave order, we crave orderliness. In the midst of you know, seeming chaos, that we want to feel like we have control, we want to feel a sense of meaning. And, and so, you know, I think like one way to sort of put put these shapes of time or shapes of stories and bring them together is that that's part of what's being offered to us. And you know, for better or worse, because the shapes are different. And they mean different things to different people. But I think the motivation of latching on to certain stories, is that sort of comfort that and like sense of belonging that we derive from particular shapes. So I don't know. I'm curious what what y'all think about that?


Zack Jackson 38:39

Yeah, reminds me of the end of the gospel of Mark. Which, yeah, Mark was written in the style of a Greek epic, which they don't all have perfect, happy endings. And the earliest manuscripts, it ends with, you know, the, the women come to the tomb, they find that it's, it's empty. There's, there's an angel who's like, Hey, check it out. He's not here. He's gone. He risen Hallelujah. And it ends with Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone because they were afraid. And that's how the book ends. But that only lasted like a couple 100 years, because then people added on to the end of it. And so all of the later manuscripts and like the ones that are like King James is based on the Latin Bibles, they all have this other lesson versus that's all like wrapping up the story, you know, the, like the end of the Lord of the Rings, where it's like, alright, well, then he appeared to two more of them. And then he appeared to everyone. And then he said, Go into all the world and preach the gospel. And then he said, I love you. I'm happy. I'll see you later. I left lunch in the fridge and everything got wrapped up in the end, and it was like they could not stand for the story tonight. And on a high note that it had to end there, or else they just felt weird about it.


Kendra Holt-Moore 40:07

I love that as an example, because it's like you go from a story shape that kind of trails off at the end and this sad sort of dangling like downward slope of trembling and fear to like the sharp upward incline of happiness and resolution, very different, very different emotional responses to


Zack Jackson 40:27

the last chapter of Ecclesiastes does the same thing. Where it's like some some later editor was like, this is just this needs, this needs a pick me up at the end, nobody's ever people are going to finish this and just be upset. So we need like, a happy ending, tacked on to the end of the bow on it. Right. And then they did the same thing to I Am Legend. Anybody ever see that? The book, the short story ends totally differently. It ends with this great like Twilight Zone esque reveal. And it's like dark, and it just ends. But Hollywood was like we can't do that we have to have a resolution, we have to have some kind of happy ending, people have to leave the theater feeling good in some way, shape, or form. Like they didn't just Well, anytime


Ian Binns 41:14

you think about with storytelling, you know, as we've already said, that having that nice ending is what people human nature is what we want, right? We want to build a wrap up something type deal. And so, you know, John, my son, John and I are right now watching the Marvel Cinematic Universe, then release order. And so he came, you know, maybe a month or so ago, he was just like, Hey, Dad, I really want to my friend watched Black Widow, I want to see Black Widow. And I said, Okay, that's great, but we're not seeing the others. It's not gonna make you're gonna miss some things. Oh, yeah. So what are you ready to start watching these? And he's like, oh, yeah, absolutely. So we started and we're watching an order of release, not chronological order. And so it makes me think about, you know, he and I were talking the other day, and yesterday, he was kind of trying to make sense of how they're all connected. We've gotten all the way through phase two, we just started Civil War last night. Captain America Civil War, right. And it makes he was talking about how they're all connected and stuff like that. But are they really like Captain America? The second one is really a sequel and what that means and, you know, part one, part two, and it made me think about Avengers. The third and fourth one, right. So Infinity War the way it ends, and then you have in game and and it was kind of pitched as a part one, part two aspect of things because Part One does not end. All happy go lucky as part two does at least the ends were things more wrapped up part one ends with a major cliffhanger. Right. And you think about films like that, like, for example, the last two Harry Potter movies, the four books seven. You know, they're both the Deathly Hallows, but it was part one, part two, part one did not end on a high note as part two debt. And so it ended with something that you're just kind of like, well, what and so but you knew it Part Two was comment. So the story wasn't over yet. Is my point. Right? And we love it for the story to be over and happy, as you said, and I think the two examples you gave from Scripture is just fascinating. I was not quite aware that they did that with Ecclesiastes, but I didn't know that. That's how Mark changed is that here was the original version, then they added on some things too, which I've always found really interesting. And to me, that was take that as a what does that say about the Bible? Right, you know, and those types of things, but anyway,


Zack Jackson 43:51

most people want to believe that things are gonna work out well for them. And when we are in a storyline, we put ourselves in that story. And we, you know, we then want the characters to come out on top, you know, unless you are a person who is just super pessimistic, you know, you know, somebody like, like, I don't know, Adam, who picked out Pan's Labyrinth for his movie early last year. And that movie ends spoiler alert, with like, a dead child. And yeah, it's like, oh, that's an awful ending. You know, something like Requiem for a Dream that just ends with awful tragedy. Some people like that, and I don't know why. Honestly.


Kendra Holt-Moore 44:47

I think it's like I think some, some of those stories can be really cathartic. Like, it's not that they're happy, but they reflect Something that you experience. And I think, like the cathartic experience of watching something that's super, super sad. I think what that gives people to some extent is a feeling that you're not alone and experiencing like deep sadness or trauma and that there's like a path. I mean, I guess if the story ends in, you know, death, I'm not sure that that maybe is a different message. But some of the stories that are really sad, there's still kind of a way forward through healing. And healing is really hard. And not, you know, it's not like a simple, straightforward, like, wrapped up in a bow type of process. And it's just, I think there's something that's comforting in seeing that being reflected in all its like ugliness and darkness, that kind of counter intuitively facilitates a kind of healing or a feeling of being seen. But that's a very different kind of story that I think then, you know, what we've been talking about with the sort of nice resolution that is happy, but it's, yeah, it's a different shape, with a different kind of purpose, I think. And then there's also the kind of, you know, like, storytelling problem, where people don't want the story to end. And so the story just like drags on and on and like, you think of like, a TV show that is, like, 10 seasons too long. And it's like, why didn't you just have a plan to do this? Well, in three seasons, phrase, and on and on, and on, and on, and on, and on and on.


Ian Binns 46:46

We gave that up a long time ago.


Kendra Holt-Moore 46:50

But yeah, like, Why, what's the kind of motivation of that shape, and I think it's, it's like, related to the desire to want things to work out well, in the end. But I think people also want to keep experiencing that, that like, happy moment or resolution until, like, feel part of a story for as long as possible. When, you know, really, like all stories, they do come to an end or they at least change over time. And so there's like, I think, I think we all kind of have an impulse or like motivation to find like permanence in like goodness, or permanence and like stability. And that can like influence the way that we tell stories and sort of drag them on in hopes that we can be part of them for for longer


Ian Binns 47:54

well, and so if I can we talk about in the feeling of happiness, and just feeling good, you know, John and I, in this journey of Washington, these films together and we're having a great time doing it, you know, I mean, he's really getting into it, and we're having a lot of fun. But I remember sometimes he would talk to me about what was your favorite one and your least favorite and Babalon and I had told him that you know, we're not done with civil war yet. We're gonna finish it today. But that when I saw that film, I didn't want to watch it again. Like that even though you know the way it ends it's okay, it was still a you know, for two for what over 12 films or something like that so far up to that point. It's like all the heroes maybe they don't get along at times but they're still kind of on the same side and then all of a sudden you see in this one that wait a minute to the biggest characters are now on opposite sides fighting each other. And I struggled with that I gotta be honest watching that that was tough to watch because it made me sad and like oh, this is something I'm supposed to be able to just escape into and not worry and bola and all sudden this happens and and so that was tough. And so I like how they work with it later. But that is interesting to me. How you know so watching some of it last night I'm glad we're doing it. But even he was describing this morning so what do you think so far? And he's like, I like it. But I mean it's it's really good and the plots interesting but also don't like it because we've not gotten to the big fight yet. We stopped bright for that. And we had to because bedtime fight we had we'd have to watch the rest of the film. Right and so as I said, we'll finish it today. But he just was like, but I don't like the fact that they're they're starting to not really get along because he you know, we both love Iron Man and Captain America alright, and we just but all these characters you get attached to all of them. And so it's just interesting. What that how this all relates Hmm. So


Zack Jackson 50:01

yeah, superhero movies in general, kind of have the same shape as the New Testament. Where it's like, yeah. Which is like he does the shaped Zack. I will, I will paint you a picture auditorially Yes, please. So it begins, they all begin with humble origins, an underdog story of somebody with great promise and potential, who needs to go through a hero's journey in order to find their full potential. They discover their powers, they go up against the powers that be there's some some small successes, there's some small losses. And then there's the final, there's the big confrontation in which they lose. They always have to lose at least somewhat. They need to be beaten into the ground. You know, oh, no, Iron Man is falling out of the sky, because he's all frozen. And you know, Captain America shield is broken like that. You need to be broken in some way. But then, when all hope seems last look on the horizon. And there's no, no, that's Gandalf coming over helm steep, but I was really good to the same kind of deal, right? Then there's this dramatic resurrection. And then boom, there we are. There's the happy ending that death is no more Oh, oh, Death, where is thy staying? Oh, grave, where's the victory? You know that, how we have this final win. And then then the same cycle repeats again, with the early church and the book of Acts. And then we get through these letters. And then the book of Revelation does the exact same story arc of like this humble beginnings, and then these troughs, and then at the end, there's this great victory, and it always ends on a happy note. And all of the stories in the New Testament follow that same underdog hero's journey, sort of story arc.


Kendra Holt-Moore 52:09



Zack Jackson 52:10

which is maybe why, maybe why I like superhero movies? I don't know. Yeah, it all


Kendra Holt-Moore 52:15

comes together.


Ian Binns 52:18

It makes you think about the matrix as well. Right? We're recording this. So less than a week before the fourth Matrix film comes out matrix resurrections. And I think that's gonna be really interesting. I'm actually excited about I really liked the series there had issues with the second and third movie. But I still liked the storyline, and the, you know, what it stood for, and stuff I thought was very interesting. But that's kind of like a superhero. Movie, or series as you just described, right. Um, and also even like the, with Star Wars, and the three separate trilogies. Yeah. Right. They help kind of follow that same, same description that you just gave us about superhero movies. And so yeah, I think it's gonna be very interesting, how they, how they bring all that together in this fourth movie of the matrix. Series. I don't know


Kendra Holt-Moore 53:13

beaking of shapes and superheroes in the Bible. Zack, do you want to tell us about a dead Christian story our How's that for a transition?


Zack Jackson 53:34

That is a wonderful transition. Because I still don't have a theme song.


Kendra Holt-Moore 53:43

Tried it? Let's try to workshop that. Okay. Did Christian Story Hour? Do you want something spooky? Um, or like uplifting? Or like Halloween theme music type of you know, intro I don't know. I'm


Ian Binns 53:58

gonna make me believe


Zack Jackson 54:00

I'm kind of I'm kind of I'm kind of into the the sort of ironic theme music something chipper and cheery like a like a, like a Mattress Company jingle.


Kendra Holt-Moore 54:16

Oh, yeah, that's perfect.


Zack Jackson 54:18

You got 805 80 to 300 M Pa. That kind of Well, welcome to part two of the dead Christian story our a part at the end of every fifth episode, in which I share with you one of my favorite stories from Christian hagiography. What is hagiography you ask? Well, I'll tell you. These are stories of dead Christians. And they are most of the time totally over the top. And I want you to take all of these with a giant grain of salt because they are not historically accurate and they aren't meant to be They are stories of heroes. And so that's what they're just meant to be. So just let them be hero stories, okay, and stop thinking too much about it because it's great. And I love them. This one comes from St. Lawrence. And St. Lawrence is the name of the borough where I live, which is named not at all after the actual St. Lawrence, but after a brand of stockings that the local knitting mill made in the 40s. But St. Lawrence, capitalism, right, it's too bad, because it's a great story. And I actually, this is the only dead Christian. That whose icon I own, I have, I have St. Lawrence in my kitchen, he holds my, my coffee scoops. And I'll tell you why in just a second, because it's great. So I'm going to take you all the way back to the mid to 50s. So this is like 200 years after Jesus. And Christianity is still kind of an underground sort of deal. But Christians in Rome, were starting to get maybe a little bit too powerful, a little bit too influential. You know, the whole thing was just kind of like back to Emperor valerian, he wasn't really having a whole lot of these Christians. So he issued an edict that all Christians in Rome must offer a sacrifice to Roman gods, or else lose their titles and land and standing. And anyone who persisted should be put to death. This was something that Roman emperors did from time to time, because they knew that Christians weren't going to do it, because Christians were stubborn. And they were in those days, kind of countercultural. pacifistic, anarchists, who loved to give the middle finger to the government. If you can imagine such a thing, that's what the church was like back then. And they were not, under any circumstance going to acknowledge of Roman God as any kind of God because they were like, it's Jesus, or nothing. Sorry, I'll die before I'll do that. And so the Romans were like, Great, then we'll kill you. So in 258, the Emperor valerian issued an edict that all of the bishops, priests and deacons of the Roman church should immediately be put to death, and all of their treasures confiscated because obviously, they would not make those sacrifices to Jupiter and such. So they started hunting down all the church leaders. And after they killed the Pope, and some of the most prominent leaders, their prefect of Rome, went after the arch deacon of the church, and demanded that he turn over all the treasures of the church. Now, deacons, for those of you who are not super into churchy stuff are the class of, of officers within the church who are tasked with feeding and taking care of the poor and the widows, the orphans, the lepers, anyone who has who has no social safety net in society. The deacons were the ones who went out and found these people and took care of them and help them so indirectly, they're also the people in charge of whatever finances the church has, which at those times was not a whole lot. But that was their job. And this fella named Lawrence was the first Deacon appointed of this church, and he was kind of in charge. So the Roman prefect went to him. And they were like, hey, Lawrence, so I gotta kill you. And I'm sorry about that, but I got to do it. However, if you turn over all of the treasures of the church to me right now, I might give you a head start. So you can get out of dodge, right? Because the prefect wants to take a cut, before he gives the rest of the Emperor. So he's, you know, he's trying to make it a little sweet for himself. So Lawrence is like, Alright, sure, I'm in, give me three days. At this point. I'm sure the prefect is like wait a second. What are these Christians? They're they're jackasses. So what, why is why is this guy on board, but whatever, I'm not gonna, I'm not gonna think too hard about it. I'm gonna get some cash money. So three days later, Lawrence shows up in front of the prefix office. And trailing him is a crowd of the dirtiest people, the widows, the orphans, the lepers, the poor, the crippled the sick, following behind him in this crowd, and he says to the prefect, Behold, the treasures of the church. Yeah, because he had taken those three days and had liquidated all of the church's assets and had then just redistributed them to the poor in Rome. So the church had no money after that. And he said, we are far more wealthy than your Emperor will ever be. So as you can probably Guess the prefect was not a fan. And so instead of beheading him, as they did with the Pope, and everyone else, he's like, I'm gonna make this guy suffer. So we strapped them to a grid iron, and put him over a bed of hot coals to slowly cook him to death. And after a while of excruciating pain, he said to Lawrence, what do you have to say for yourself now? And Lawrence looked at him, and he said, I'm done on this side, turn me over. And for that, they made him the patron saint of cooks. And so the icon I have of him in my kitchen is of him happily standing there with this big smile on his face, holding a big gridiron with like a bunch of garlic and onions in his other hand, as if he was like the church chef, because he's the patron saint of cooks. And somebody told the icon maker, go ahead and make me a picture of St. Lawrence, the patron saint of cooks. And they're like, Yeah, sure, I'll give him a bunch of food and stuff. Because apparently he was a chef. He was not a chef. He was cooked alive on a gridiron. He is also the patron saint of comedians, which feels a lot more appropriate. Because dude was a smartass. And I kind of love him.


Ian Binns 1:01:24

The patron saint of chefs, even though he was cooked alive.


Zack Jackson 1:01:28

Yeah, the patron saint of dentists also got her teeth kicked out. So the people who come up with these things have a sort of sense of cruel irony, I think. Yeah,


Kendra Holt-Moore 1:01:37

very much. So


Ian Binns 1:01:38

I would say so. Yeah. I love that.


Kendra Holt-Moore 1:01:41

Is there a like a closing like, outgoing theme music that that we'll have for the fit too, because I feel like it really needs that. Oh,


Ian Binns 1:01:51

well, maybe something about magical breasts this time though.


Zack Jackson 1:01:55

No magical breast this time. Just a smart Aliki Deacon who got cooked alive and then later turned into the patron saint of yummy garlic and onions.


Ian Binns 1:02:08

Yeah, that was, yeah, amen.


Zack Jackson 1:02:12

Amen. Okay. So the next time you're having a barbecue, pour one out for St. Lawrence, and maybe give the middle finger to the government hits what he was with St.


Ian Binns 1:02:24

Lawrence for being cooked alive. Hey, go. Thank you.

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