A Lesson from ‘The X Files’

Back in the day, Chris Carter’s The X Files was one of the most successful series on TV, and certainly one of the most honored. It won all kinds of awards. And now that you can watch old TV shows on your computer, Patty and I have been watching X Files episodes.

If you want to know why Christianity is in trouble in America, check out our pop culture.

Last night we watched a 1999 episode called Millenium, a crossover with another series produced by Carter and canceled for the 1999 TV season. Anyhow, in this entry, the bad guys are resurrecting dead FBI agents who committed suicide because they wanted to be resurrected. Yeah, it’s complicated.

In a brainstorming session, Agent Mulder (David Duchovny) figures there must be a lot of necromancy going on. Necromancy is the art of raising the dead and getting them to do your  bidding. Mulder describes it as an ancient feature “of the Judeo-Christian tradition.” Uh, not exactly… Necromancy is mentioned in the Bible. There shall not be found among you anyone… that useth divination… or a witch… or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord…  (Deuteronomy 18:10-12) It is not part of any Judeo-Christian tradition.

Besides which, all this Scripture-spouting necromancer can really do is make the corpses into zombies.

But my point is, here is a popular TV show, an icon of our popular culture at the time, making use of Christianity, or rather abusing it, for the producer’s own ends. It went on then and it still goes on today. Our “entertainment” industry hardly ever touches on Christian faith except to mock it, distort it, or condemn it.

The X Files frequently touched on Christian themes, Chris Carter sucking it into a mish-mosh of New Age twaddle, UFOlogy, and pagan superstition. It lent “gravitas” to the show’s mythology. I should add that The X Files would have been totally ridiculous if not for the consistently superb quality of the filming, the acting, the background music, and the locations.

For whatever the reason, we Americans have for a long time been using our popular culture to undermine our faith.

If you answer by saying, “Oh, it’s just entertainment! It doesn’t really mean anything,” I think I would have to answer, “But everything means something.”

Study our “entertainment” closely and see if you don’t agree with me.

14 comments on “A Lesson from ‘The X Files’

  1. My boy, now seventeen, has always told me, ” It is just a show.” And my reply is,” We have too much real filth in our world already without making entertainment about it.” For that he has no answer, but happily swims in it for the simple reason that to get along you must go along. That is the degeneration of today. Dave

    1. In all his shows, Chris Carter handled Christianity as if it were just another “belief system” along with Islam and Greek mythology and Native American paganism, UFOlogy and New Age, yatta-yatta. He just throws it into the pot with everything else.

      Which is about par for the course for our civilization, these days. We don’t think about anything! And eventually everything is only a show.

      If your son is not careful, he could wind up having a totally impoverished mind. And you can tell him I said so.

  2. Uninformed interpretations of the bible seem to be all but ubiquitous, but your point about pop culture drives it home. A lot of people don’t known any more about the bible than what they see said about it in TV shows, movies, etc. Most people that saw the episode about necromancy probably took the comments at face value and have disregard for the Bible because of it.

    As a civilization, we are sinking fast.

  3. Far more than just ‘entertainment’ or ‘shows’, Hollywood has for many years been planting subliminal messaging into their productions – from full-length movies to television commercials. There have been studies done that show after only a couple of minutes of watching television, our minds slip into a state almost like a waking coma and critical thinking ceases, thereby rendering us open to suggestion. That’s why it’s called ‘programming’.

    1. Bingo!

      Television is a perfect teaching tool and it’s been teaching badness for a very long time. All In The Family publicized racial slurs and bigotry to people whom had never been exposed to such things. Behaviors considered marginal are quickly accepted, once they are portrayed in TV, which often places objectionable behavior in a positive context.

      The next thing you know, the objectionable behavior has become socially enshrined and possibly even a badge of independence. When I taught music, I was amazed by how the kids would all be using the same expressions, telling the same jokes or acting out the same skits, most of which had come from Saturday Night Live. Put an interesting lyric in a song and people start inserting it into their everyday speech. None of this is wrong in and of itself, but it shows the power of entertainment.

      The only antidote comes at the user level, which is to say, we don’t have to watch or listen to something, just because it’s on TV or radio.

    2. I had a friend who wanted to be like a character in M*A*S*H*. He did this by wearing the little hat and insulting all his friends at every opportunity. People didn’t like it. His wife warned him he was going to get punched out if he didn’t stop, “and you’ll deserve it.”

      I don’t bother with him anymore.

    3. How incredibly shallow, to base your personality on a theatric character. TV, movies, radio, theater, etc, are not real! In real life, Hawkeye Pierce would have been peeling potatoes in Leavenworth, right next to Trapper John and BJ Hunnicutt. That’s if they were fortunate; smart off too many times in a war zone and you may not live to tell the tale.

      If you watch a movie about a thief that never gets caught it’s not because he’s smart, it’s because the person that wrote the script willed that the thief never be caught. If people behave immorally without consequence in TV, movies, radio, theater, etc, it’s because the script says they can, but has nothing to do with reality. If the lyrics to a popular song flaunt authority without consequence, it’s because the lyricist wrote it that way. TV, movies, radio, theater, etc, are fantasy and nothing more.

      Remember Mr. Ed, the talking horse? He was a beautiful horse, but he could only speak through special effects. My point is that everything on TV is equally unbounded by reality. It may give the appearance of realism, but everything that happens in TV, movies, radio, theater, etc, is what the script writers and producers want the audience to see.

    4. P R O G R A M M I N G — yep. And tons of us are waking up to this very fact. Just in time, as assaults on our faith have ramped incredibly the past five years alone. Be sober, be vigilant. Good advice!

    5. I read about hypnotism and realized that TV operates in much the same way. Keep people’s attention by dangling the prospect of something novel just around the corner, distract occasionally in order to keep people from having time to formulate thought of their own and you can captivate quite a large share of the population.

      The amazing thing is this, take away the commercials and much of the effect disappears, at least with dramatic content. Comedy relies more on pacing so the effect remains to some degree, commercials or not.

  4. For these reasons and more, I rarely watch any movies any more. Most of them offend me, turn me off, and I just can’t be bothered. There have been some fairly good Bible story movies made at times, but even there, the producers just can’t resist sneaking in something ugly, not in the Scripture. Disgusting.

    1. Amen! Most movies include immoral behavior of some sort and it’s usually referred to as normal, positive, etc. Contemporary movies seem to be mired in endless sequels of violent stories with gratuitous special effects. Who wants to see this stuff? Why would I want to pay an exorbitant sum to see yet another Batman sequel? Has Hollywood forgotten how to come up with a new story?

      TV is insipid sit-coms filled with sexual innuendo and “Reality” shows I wouldn’t let a goldfish watch. TV News seems to be an endless parade of actresses, apparently chosen on the basis of appearance, acting out the role of serious news presenters. Apparently they’ve figured out that most men won’t question the word of a beautiful actress. 🙂

      Most bible based movies have disappointed me. “Noah” was much more apocrypha and Hollywood, than it was biblical.

    2. Was that the one in which Russell Crowe prattled about Global Warming? Not to be confused with the one in which the Ark was accosted by pirates… commanded by Lot.

      I wonder if Joe Collidge writes some of those scripts.

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