The wrath of nature is ok, just not the wrath of God

In his excellent sermon on the invasion of Canaan, Gary Millar quotes from this Irish Catholic blogger, about the recent BBC version of The Day of the Triffids:

I’m a bit of a sucker for disaster stories so on Monday and Tuesday night I watched a new two-part BBC adaptation of the sci-fi classic, The Day of the Triffids in which the world gets over-run by man-eating plants.

This version had a new environmentalist message. The triffids were being cultivated because they produce oil in a nice eco-friendly way. The slightly inconvenient fact that they are also flesh-eating is kept from the public but eventually the public finds out that they are flesh-eating when they escape and start, well, flesh-eating.

In the two episodes (which were rather a drag unfortunately), we got lots of warnings about what happens when you interfere with nature, namely that nature will eventually inflict its wrath on you. Come to think of it, this was a sort of Wrath of God story with nature standing in for God.

In fact in the last few years there have been several ‘Wrath of Nature’ movies; The Day the Earth Stood Still and The Day After Tomorrow to name but two. In both movies, and in this latest version of The Day of the Triffids, we are led to believe that we deserve what’s coming to us.

The funny thing is, no-one would ever make a movie these days about the Wrath of God in which the message also was that we had it coming to us. We’re able to accept that if we sin against nature we deserve our punishment, but not if we sin against nature’s maker.

Religion did surface briefly in episode two when the hero found himself at an abbey run by a seemingly kindly nun. She had arrived at a pact with the triffids in which they would leave the abbey alone. She said this was an answer to prayer. This being a BBC drama, needless to say it wasn’t. It turned out that the old crone - played by Vanessa Redgrave - wasn’t kindly at all. Instead she would trick people into sacrificing themselves to the triffids. That’s why they were content to wait outside the abbey rather than attack it. Sigh. Will the BBC ever again make a drama in which the Christians are nice people? Some of us are, you know. Really. One of them might even be your mother.

In any event, the irony of the story’s message appeared lost on its makers because it was essentially a religious message about the need to repent or face the consequences, the consequences in this case being the destruction of nearly the whole human race, a bit like in Noah’s Ark actually. Give me that Old Time Religion, even if it is dressed up in environmentalist clothes.

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