Reflecting on Brett McKracken's relevant post on "Why We Like Watching the World End"

I just enjoyed reading Brett McKracken’s “Why We Like Watching the World End” and I felt that my comment was going to get long so I thought I’d finish it here.

I admit that I feel two things when I watch a movie like Armageddon, I am Legend or any movie that either has Nicolas Cage worrying and running or Morgan Freeman narrating and preaching.  The first is, “Wow, it’s so cool how they trashed New York City.  It’s almost as bad as what Philly sports fans do when they win something”.  And two, “We really should consider moving to South Dakota because whether it be terrorist, nuclear, natural disaster, or the killer-bee invasion, we’d among the first to die here in north jersey.

Brett offers reasons of why we enjoy watching thee movies like pointing out it’s part of human nature to be curious of such destruction.  He also discusses the reminder of justice and compassion which I appreciated him saying.  I don’t think everyone watches these movies to see people perish.  We also watch to see hope emerge in the midst of the worst case scenarios.

But I fear there’s another reason why some of my fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord like to watch, talk and imagine these end of the world scenarios – spite.    It seems to me that those of us who have been raised with a dispensational theology want to see the world be punished.  I mean if you think the freeze scenes of The Day the Earth Stood Still were cool, imagine how cool it will be to watch consuming fire engulf the heathens while we safely watch from our raptured cloud with “real” surround sound.

To be honest, it grieves me when I hear my fellow Christians speak gleefully about the destruction of the earth.  While it is impossible to imagine the specifics,  I believe God will judge and redeem all of creation.  It always feels as though that person is saying, “Burn in hell, suckers! You should have listened to us when you had the chance! Bet you wished you had been ready now, huh?”  As the old songs goes,  “And they’ll know we are Christians by our spite, by our spite, by our spite …”  I hope God forgives me for jumping off that cloud because I do not believe that is a trajectory bound for His Kingdom.

Back to why we like watching these types of movies and I am including zombie, horror and chic flicks here.  Because these scenes don’t normally happen, we get to watch them consequence free.  As Brett mentions, i think there is a fine curiosity that is normal to imagine.  It’s human. But as he also says, that feeling after witnessing  countess  people perishing should motivate us towards compassion and mission.


  1. I’m not big on death-and-destruction movies partly because they’re too real. I actually had to leave the theater when the Titanic sank in James Cameron’s movie. I couldn’t bear to watch it, knowing many real people did die on the Titanic.

    But I think your point about enjoying movies consequence-free is a good point. (In fact, I just wrote a rough draft of a post that alludes to that idea in relation to books!) I’d go a step further to say that our love of these movies is an issue of control. We don’t have control over “terrorist, nuclear, natural disaster, or the killer-bee invasion” in real-life, and it’s often easier to watch a fantasy version of them in which humans triumph over disaster in three hours or less than it is to trust God to take care of us in the midst of real tragedies.

  2. Shannon!
    I walked out of Titanic too but after three hours, I had to use the bathroom – felt like I was going to die.

    Point taken on the issue of control.
    In a way, sometimes we take movie-watching too seriously but the content not serious enough.

    Thanks for posting, see you around.

Speak Your Mind