Comic Review: Therefore Repent!
The Rapture has happened. All of the Christians have floated up into the air, leaving everyone else behind. And to be honest, those who are still here kind of like it that way. But something is happening. Things are changing. Pagan magic is starting to have real and obvious affects. Black winged angels in army gear are patrolling the streets. And dogs are starting to talk. Welcome to the world of Therefore Repent!
My first exposure to the idea of the Rapture came from comic books. I’d recently become a collector (not long after I become a Christian, too) and had heard about this Christian comic book on a comic book news site. Apparently it was a massively selling book, so I knew I had to have it. So I made my way to the local Christian book store and got my hands on the first issue of the Left Behind comic book. I wasn’t impressed. It just didn’t work as a comic, which often happens with adaptations. But what really confused me, what really had me going What Tha???, was the whole idea of the Rapture.
The Rapture was not something that was taught in my Church. We were not told that in the end of days, before everything got real bad, that all the Christians would be taken straight into Heaven and avoid all the horrors that can be found in Revelation. I had recently read Revelation and was scratching my head, wondering if I had missed that chapter. The idea of the Rapture, from what I can see, is widely held in American evangelical circles. I’m not convinced from Scripture that it is true, so you won’t find me preaching in favour of it. I guess we’ll find out who is right when Jesus returns. But until then, let’s talk about Therefore Repent!
Therefore Repent! is a graphic novel created by Jim Munroe and Salgood Sam in 2007. It can be seen as a pagan response to the Rapture. If you’re living in a country where there is a strong and vocal Christian presence that is telling you that one day all the Christians are going to disappear and that on that day you’re going to be wishing you were one of them, you’d start thinking what it would be like without all those loud, pushy Bible bashers.
The story follows Raven and Mummy, two lovers. Raven wears a raven mask and Mummy wraps himself up in bandages. They’re pretty counter cultural like that. But counter cultural seems to be the norm in this world. One day all the Christians just floated up into the sky. Now things are… different. With a large part of the population gone bye bye, culture has changed. There are those who are seeking redemption for their sins, hoping that God will do a second pass through and collect them on the next round. There are those who are rejoicing that paganism is now unchallenged. And there are those who don’t really care.
What follows, with warrior angels, physical transformations, magic spells and talking dogs, is really a love story. Raven and Mummy love each other, but feel that because of everything that is going on, that they’re drifting apart. The book ends, not when the physical conflict that has erupted ends, but when Raven and Mummy reunite and profess their love. Everything else is back ground to the love story of these kooky kids.
I’m going to try and not spoil the ending. Just keep in mind that the ending radically changes what I think about the theological issues in play here. There’s a scene in chapter 2 where the characters flashback to where they were the day of the Rapture. Mummy and Raven were at a music festival, lying in their tent. When all the Christians outside start rising up into the air, Mummy starts going with them. But he stays put, floating on the roof of his tent, because of his love for Raven.
This got me thinking. One: how come so many people rose up? This book makes it seem like the majority of people in America are Christians. Is this true? Or are they just culturally Christian? If the Rapture does happen, I believe that you’ll find that many people who call themselves Christian will be left behind. Being Christian isn’t something that is passed along through the blood line like hair colour. Being a Christian is not just a matter of having Christian written on your birth certificate. Being a Christian is about accepting Jesus as God and as your saviour. If you believe that Jesus alone is the way to being in a relationship with God and going to Heaven, then you’re a Christian. There are many people who call themselves Christian who don’t believe this. I think Therefore Repent! over estimates how many Christians there are in the world. (Note: the revelations in the end of the book put this in a different light. Just putting it out there.)
Two: If Mummy was indeed one of God’s chosen, if he was destined to join God’s people in the Rapture, then nothing as flimsy as a tent ceiling would have stopped him. If the Rapture is real (and again, it’s not a belief I hold) then nothing will get in the way of God calling his people to him. To think that a strong will and a nylon roof would stop Mummy from rising up into Heaven is a ridiculous idea. God would not be limited in any way in making his will happen.
The disturbing thing about this book is the sorcery and witch craft. These people have rejected God. They have turned not only to themselves, but have sought the favour of demons. And they pay a price for this as they begin to be physically transformed into demonic likeness. In the end, there is no rhyme or reason for what’s going on. It’s just a bunch of people who have turned themselves into demons, mainly because it’s cool. Or because they have fooled themselves into believing that’s who they really are. This book takes the premise of the Rapture and tells the story of what happens next. But it stops before the real story. It stops before Revelation 19. Jesus, both God and Man, returns. He is the warrior king. He fights and destroys the forces of the evil one. It is not a fair fight as evil does not stand a chance. Evil lays there, slaughtered and vanquished. This Jesus, the ultimate king, brings in the new creation, one where God will rule forever and his people will never suffer again.
Therefore Repent!treats Christians as naive and foolish and pagans as vindicated heroes. The creators have taken the premise of the Rapture, but have fallen short of presenting the glory of God. They had already taken a hit in my brain on page 1 where they quoted from “Revelations” instead of Revelation. That’s a pet peeve of mine and to me shows that these creators had no intention of interacting with Scripture, but only with perceived Christian culture. I can respect that, but at the end of the day (and isn’t that what we’re talking about here?) interacting with culture instead of the Bible will get you no where. Calling your self a Christian won’t save you. Practicing pagan magic and fighting evil angels won’t save you. Putting your trust in Jesus Christ is the one and only thing that can save you.