Elysium: An Empty Promise
WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE MOTION PICTURE “ELYSIUM”.
Elysium was a movie that revealed what would happen when the church disappeared and when Satan’s kingdom would be left to it’s own demise. The picture played on the emotions of the audience in order to argue it’s case (which I believe to possibly be universal healthcare and wealth redistribution) while offering no transcendent principle and reason for anyone’s actions. The film depicted two types of religion, which Gary North would label as power religion and escapist religion. The third, dominion religion, was missing from the film.
“This [power religion] is a religious viewpoint which affirms that the most important goal for a man, group, or species, is the capture and maintenance of power…What distinguishes Biblical dominion religion from satanic power religion is ethics.” -Gary North, “Liberating Planet Earth”, pg. 42
Remember how poor, needy, and sick everyone was on earth? Robotic AI became the law enforcement officers, enforcing a strict zero-tolerance system on earth citizens, while protecting the citizens of Elysium. This is power religion. The government was not concerned about enforcing Biblical law, or protecting universal rights of citizens (like property, privacy, etc.), instead the system reflects a fascist system of searching who they want, when they want, all in the name of safety and protocol. The same occurred with the The Department of Homeland Security when they began planting TSA agents in the airports.
The mindset of each individual was to look for salvation in something that would maintain their power religion. That salvation was found in the med-bays.
Med-bays provided individuals with sustainable immortality, something that would give them hope for maintaining their careers and enjoyment of life. Their trust and salvation was not in Christ, nor did it mention anything of God. They trusted in a physical body, which the viewer saw, that could still be destroyed. The priority of the people on earth (and Elysium) was the regulation of this med-bay, for it was the highest source of power. Those on earth envied this power so much that they started a proletarian revolution.
The film, in this way, seemed to lay a cornerstone for such revolutions, justifying it as being within The Cause for mankind’s well-being. Everyone has a Cause; it regulates every part of their life. The Cause is the purpose and goal of the individual’s life, and therefore argues on either a transcendent or subjective basis. The Cause for earth was to get everyone in a med-bay. Immortality for everyone.
“This is the second great tradition of the antichristian religion. Seeing that the exercise of autonomous power is a snare and a delusion, the proponents of escapist religion have sought to insulate themselves from the general culture – a culture maintained by power. They have fled the responsibilities of worldwide dominion, or even regional dominion, in the hope that God will excuse them from the general dominion covenant.” lib. pg. 43
This is Elysium. Elysium is the epitome of the escapist religion, possibly even depicting piety. If this told me anything, it was that the Church should have been helping. If there were Christians on Elysium, they would have helped. If they did not help, well then they would be your typical pious, pessimistic Christian. Yes, I understand that it is a general statement, but they are the consistent bunch of their group. North states,
“The Christian version of the escapist religion is sometimes call “pietism”, but it’s theological roots can be traced back to the ancient heresy of mysticism. Rather than proclaiming the requirement of ethical union with Jesus Christ, the perfect man, the mystic calls for metaphysical union with a monistic, unified god. In the early church, there were many types of mysticism, but the most feared rival religion which continually infiltrated the church was gnosticism. It proclaimed many doctrines, but the essence of the gnostic faith was radical individualism: retreat from the material realm and escape to a higher, purer, spiritual realm through techniques of self-manipulation – asceticism, higher consciousness, and initiation into secret mysteries.” lib. (Continue reading here…)
Whether the citizens of Elysium were Christian or not, their escapist religion ignored social problems, like the poor and sick, while it became a revolution. Of course, the earth citizens had no justified right or reason to destroy property, and steal the use of the med-bays. However, one cannot help but wonder why blessed individuals do not out of charity, help the poor. Elysium did not even depict a full-blown socialist civil government, as healthcare was not universal. Instead, I believe the purpose in the movie was to depict the bourgeoisie as being the rich in American society, as if they do not help the poor, and therefore should have their wealth taken by force. That is the summation of a Marxist, proletarian revolution.
“This is the orthodox faith. It proclaims the sovereignty of God, the reliability of the historic creeds, the necessity of standing up for principle, and the requirement that faithful mean take ricks for God’s sake. It proclaims that though the exercise of saving faith, and through ethical conformity to God’s revealed law, regenerate men will increase the extent of their dominion over the earth. It is a religion of conquest — conquest through ethics. The goal is ethical conformity to God, but the results of this conformity involve dominion — over lawful subordinates, over ethical rebels, and over nature.” lib., pg. 45
This is what was lacking in the film. You hardly see films depict God’s people, and conformity to His ways, as being the means to the good ending. Instead, such writers and directors desire a much more humanistic approach to how good endings begin. There was no church in the film, and if the woman in the movie dressed like a nun was Christian, then their responsibility would be to impact society. Perhaps they were working on it, or perhaps they were escapists just like the citizens of Elysium. Either way, the film shows what happens to a world when the church is irresponsible.
On the other hand, maybe the director could be driving a point home that no one see’s. Christians should certainly see the driving point without having to be told. The movie depicts our society. It depicts illegals coming to our nation for work and a better future, while we build up walls to keep them out. The film depicts unbelievers that have the means to give to charity, yet do not because of their hatred towards their fellow man. They care only for themselves. Perhaps the driving point should be this; this film shows what the world would be like without the church and Christ, and thus is a firm warning to Christians that this will come unless they take up their cross and follow Christ to self-sacrifice, love for God, and their neighbor.
I ended up pin-pointing the causes of the social issues in the film. Of course, I saw that the citizens of Elysium, if they had been Christians, would want to help those on earth. The film depicted a culture lacking any charity on the part of those God had given more to. I do not believe that civil government is the answer to helping the poor, nor do I believe that wealth redistribution is righteous in the eyes of God. God commanded His People to take care of the poor and He still does. Individuals, out of charity were to do this, not government institutions. And when they don’t, revolution takes place, even though it’s satanic (meaning of the enemy). The consequences of disobeying the covenant sanctions is judgement from God, and this can be expressed as proletarian revolution and uncharitable wealthy individuals.
At the end of the film, when Matt Damon (the main character) sacrifices himself for the entire earth to receive this salvation of the med-bay, the robotic AI go out into the earth to give to those that will receive the salvation. This to me was a picture of what the church should have been doing. Instead of having to start a satanic revolution, charity should have flown those planes. Charity should have given healthcare to the poor. Without charity civil government will step in, or revolution will follow. Let this be a warning, not from me but from God and His covenant promise of curses.
In summation, the film gave way to proletarian revolution, but for the Christian demonstrated what the world without Christians would be like. It also demonstrated the curses that would come upon God’s people if they did not obey His covenant. We as Christians must bring to the world the real med-bay; the gospel that heals the world. We have true salvation that can make each one a new creation in Christ, but we must not be as the citizens of Elysium were; escaping from culture and refusing to acknowledge it’s spiritual needs. We must bring the good news of God’s kingdom to the world, while also obeying the commands that preserve and help our neighbor. Love God and love your neighbor as yourself. “On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:40)