When I was a freshman in college, Die Another Day came out, and I was beyond excited. As I’ve mentioned a thousand times before, I have an odd fascination with James Bond—he’s a relic of colonialism, patriarchy, and empire; I’m squarely against and actively working to dismantle them—but they’ve always stuck. And in 2002, my friend Steve-O and I got into his minivan, and drove to Cedar Rapids for a midnight showing of the twentieth installment in the Bond franchise.
It was supposed to be incredible. And in the very beginning, when Bond walks out in the gun barrel sequence, he turns, he fires his weapon, and the bullet goes into the gun barrel. I heard Steve-O mutter “Oh no,” after this, with good reason. The theme song, by Madonna, was awful. Oscar winner Halle Berry phoned in her performance as Jinx, the most stupidly-named Bond girl. And the plot was more focused on hitting a reference to every previous movie than actually making a new one.
This week, we’re starting a three-week stretch on some traditionally frightening and disconcerting texts. The twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew features three parables of judgment—the Bridesmaids, the Talents, and the Sheep & Goats—and the lectionary doubles down on all of this with passages that are used to promote the rapture, apocalyptic preaching, and a harsh, imperial, destructive Christianity. I don’t think control, fear and exclusion were the goals of the writers of the New Testament; I am certain that’s not how Jesus operates. What happens when, like with Die Another Day, we lose the story for the sake of self-reference?
Let’s find out together on Sunday. I look forward to seeing you then.
P.S. As we grieve yet another public shooting, this time in a church, let us offer our thoughts and prayers to those affected and afflicted. Let us then seek to create change through contacting legislatures, having forthright conversations, lobbying against the firearm free-for-all that’s sweeping the state, destigmatizing mental health and making care more readily available, and loving one another boldly. For starters…