Battle the Angels

Over the weekend I finally got around to watching Battle Los Angeles. Now, I’ve never been a fan of war movies, but I do have a soft spot for aliens, so I decided to tough it out and see who won. I knew the historic event upon which the premise of the film was based took place in 1942, before flying saucers captured the American imagination. The official Air Force story suggests that old nemesis to our control of the air: weather balloons. Considering that Los Angeles was blacked out and ground forces lobbed 1,400 artillery rounds at the things, I wonder why the balloons at my daughter’s birthday parties never managed to last the night. In any case, the movie runs with the premise that aliens have taken over the city of angels and the U. S. Marines are the ones to get the job done when it comes to taking out aliens. (The Air Force, one expects, is too busy chasing weather balloons.)

Gratuitous aliens and science fiction action may be merit enough to get into this blog, but there is actually a more compelling reason. Back in my teaching days, I tried to demonstrate to students how deeply the Bible pervades our culture. When I taught those long summer and winter term courses, sometimes lingering four hours into the night, I would break up the inevitability of my lectures with a few movie clips to show them just how often the Bible shows up in films. Sometimes the cameo appearance is a matter of fleeting seconds, but when directors pay attention to every detail of a scene, we can be sure that Bibles don’t just show up by accident. Battle Los Angeles is no different. As our platoon is being air-lifted into the alien hot zone, one of the soldiers (I couldn’t figure out which one, since most of them get dispatched in fairly short order) is shown reading the Bible. The camera hovers there a second before pulling back to show the pre-battle chatter.

The viewer is probably supposed to be reminded that there are no atheists in foxholes, as the saying goes. Or it is a sign of how serious this is: before the big guns come out, bring on the Bible? In our culture the Bible has that kind of role. I recently read of a Catholic astronomer who was seeking alien civilizations in order to convert them to Christianity. The premise is as intriguing as it is arrogant. Human beings can be tenacious when it comes to matters of belief. In Battle Los Angeles, however, we speak with our guns and our missiles. But first we read our Bibles. Without wishing to ascribe to much intentional subtlety to the movie, this might be the underlying paradigm. Once the battle begins in earnest, the Bible never comes back into play. It is human ingenuity that wins the day, and perhaps the aliens are being taught to pray.

2 thoughts on “Battle the Angels

  1. Lionel Andrades

    Wednesday, March 21, 2012

    The Theology of Religions being promoted by various liberal groups omits Ad Gentes 7 which says all need Catholic Faith and the baptism of water for salvation ( to avoid Hell ). Vatican Council II like the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus is saying that all Jews, Protestants and Orthdox Christians need Catholic Faith and the baptism of water for salvation. Protestants and the Orthodox do not have Catholic Faith.

    The Theology of Religions being promoted by the liberals omit the teaching of Vatican Council II which says that there is exclusive salvation in only the Catholic Church. This has been the traditional teaching of the Catholic Church for centuries.

    The Center for Christian Jewish Learning in Boston College, which has the support of Jewish Left professors and allies presents its political version of Vatican Council II . -Lionel Andrades

    Christian M. Rutishauser


    From a historical point of view, the new understanding of the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people was the catalyst for the Second Vatican Council to elaborate a declaration on the non-Christian religions. This is not a mere accident.

    Lionel: Nostra Aetate does not state that Judaism is the ordinary means of salvation or that Jews do not have to convert into the Catholic Church.

    Nostra Aetate says that ‘the Church is the new people of God.’

    The Jewish-Christian relationship does, even from a systematic point of view, play a paradigmatic, critical and corrective function for a Christian theology of religions. It has a character sui generis, for Judaism constitutes the Other within Christian self-identity. The Jewish-Christian relationship helps to formulate the meaning of the particular in the discussion of the universal Christian claim of truth and salvation when facing other religions.

    Lionel: According to Ad Gentes 7 Judaism is not a path to salvation. Jews, and all people need to convert into the Church. Similarly Dominus Iesus 20, the Catechism of the Catholic Church 845,846 and other magisterial documents repeat the Biblical message that Jews need to convert into the Church for salvation.

    Furthermore, it prevents a theology of religion from sliding into abstract, non-historical and purely speculative definitions. Normally, Christology and especially the theology of Incarnation guarantees it, but they have to be linked themselves back to the messianic idea of Judaism and the history of salvation where the Church itself recognizes the unrevoked covenant between God and Israel.

    Lionel: Catholics believe that Jesus made a new and eternal covenant with his death and Resurrection. This is the clear message in the New Testament.

    Only a theology of religions that recognizes the lasting challenge of the Jewish faith for Christian identity will have overcome anti-Judaism at its roots.

    Lionel: Vatican Council II , like the dogma Cantate Domino, Council of Florence 1441 says Jews need to convert for salvation. ALL need to convert.

    The Letter of the Holy Office 1949 to the Archbishop of Boston referred to ‘the dogma’ the ‘infallible’ statement. The infallible dogma says all Jews in Boston need to convert to avoid the fires of Hell.It affirmed exclusive salvation in only the Catholic Church and not the theology of religions.

    The theology of religions was rejected by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the Notification on Fr.Jacques Dupuis 2001 during the pontificate of Pope John Paul II. It is now being enforced politically by the Jewish Left.

    Jewish-Christian Dialogue; Theology of Religions
    Jewish-Christian Dialogue; Theology of Religions
    Full Text: PDF


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