The influence of Christianity on the Western world — and America in particular — is worthy of a book-length exposition. For purposes of length, I will eschew historical background and commence with more early-modern and contemporary developments. Today, the Holy Bible is responsible for much of the literature, fine arts, and media we enjoy as composers are heavily influenced by its poignant writings and parables.
Hollywood, in particular — although on its surface irreconcilable with the dictates of Christianity — relies extensively on Christianity and Biblical themes to exist. Only for about a century have we seen the fostering of a coherent and defined Hollywood culture — characterized by its active encouragement of frivolous intemperance. As movie stars went from merely starring in a movie to being deified and worshipped by the culture, Hollywood increasingly came to reflect that ethos — and corrupted itself. The ethos of Christianity is completely antithetical to the ethos of Hollywood because the former emphasizes the eternal life whereas the latter emphasizes the eternal present. For Hollywood, Christianity is an unrelenting souvenir that the lifestyle it promotes is heinous and that there is potential for the culture to outright reject it.
Ironically, Hollywood also uses biblical themes to fuel its endless profits. It is no accident that the movies that resonate with us the most — the biggest blockbusters — almost all contain Biblical or Biblical-adjacent messages. One of the most lucid examples of the incorporation of scripture into today’s films comes from the critically-acclaimed Spiderman 2, with one of its vital plot sequences being an incredibly discernable yet metaphorical crucifixion.
Besides Hollywood, an appropriation of the Christian ethic is becoming increasingly prevalent throughout various cultural channels. Christianity — formerly the unifying cultural and moral portrait in America — has been picked apart by a secular rendition that adopts, cannibalizes, and twists its teachings in an effort to become the dominant narrative. Shown most infamously by the introduction of the 1619 project — an initiative to revise history and promulgate the idea that the primary motive behind the American Revolution was to defend slavery — America’s past is today deemed a kind of “original sin" in itself. For context, the concept of "original sin" was introduced by St. Augustine of Hippo to suggest that humans are innately flawed and thereby have an unfailing proclivity to sin.
On the contrary, this past year, we saw less than noble characters like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor thrust into the limelight and branded as righteous martyrs, with murals, effigies, and even ritualistic ceremonies conveyed in their names. Continuous with the Christian sacrament of reconciliation, conceding the racial privilege we have in society has replaced confession. And using this purported privilege and its accompanying platform to espouse mainstream social narratives is the secular equivalent of penance — similarly to how a priest orders the recitation of specific prayers or duties by someone undergoing the divine sacrament of reconciliation.
The remarkable Christian platitude, “love thy neighbor as thyself,” is used today to justify open border policy and unbridled immigration. Analogously, “turning the other cheek” suddenly means letting violent criminals free from jail. And to top it off, we are told that Jesus Christ Himself was assuredly a revolutionary brown-skinned socialist — with some radicals even going as far as to say Jesus was queer. Atheist and agnostic leftists ceaselessly uphold their warped interpretation of Christianity, even to a degree higher than some pious Christians defend their traditional mores and beliefs. These same people are also the first to denounce Christians for failing to stay true to the teachings of Christ in their own lives. The modern progressive platform ultimately depends upon the repackaging of Biblical themes to justify their causes, and to which all humans possess an undying affinity.
Today, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were formally inaugurated as the 46th President and 49th Vice President of the United States — and their supporters were teeming with euphoria. I saw multiple impassioned tweets on my timeline of people claiming to have burst into tears following Biden's inauguration speech. Jacobin Magazine soon after posted a cartoon image of Joe Biden wearing a robe, complemented by an effulgent halo. In the photo, Biden is surrounded by former and contemporary politicians ranging from Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary to Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. To the left of Biden, two scientists assiduously examine a graph picturing the number of active COVID-19 cases in the United States. On his right, two eager news pundits face news cameras and microphones in the direction of Mr. Biden. Finally, a collection of ostensibly conventional Americans wearing masks lies beneath Mr. Biden — among other quaint embellishments that seemingly represent his apostolic followers.
Deifying Biden in this manner confers emotional purification to his voters and offers them salvation from the proverbial 40 days — 4 years — in the barren and torrid desert with President Donald Trump. While today’s developments surrounding Biden’s inauguration were striking in themselves, what this assemblage of modern cultural and behavioral trends imply is a usurping of the traditional Christian ethic by its secular and warped progeny.