[ by Charles Cameron -- a minor incongruity? -- Breivik and Wallander ]
This is a quick (I wish) note about something that caught my eye — a character in the British (Kenneth Branagh) version of Wallander is decribed as a “cultural Christian” when he’s in significants way about as far from what Anders Breivik meant when he called himself a “cultural Christian” as one can imagine.
The question this raises for me is whether the phrase has a single clear meaning — and the English Wallander series simply mangled it — or whether perhaps in Scandinavian society it has a wider meaning, and Breivik was limiting it for his own purposes. Let’s start with Wallander:
The novel Before the Frost, by Henning Mankell, opens with a Prologue about Jim Jones and his Peoples’ Church in Guyana where 909 people died in 1978 after “drinking the Kool-aid” — meaning both a cyanide laced drink with bullet chasers for any who were reluctant to participate, and the alternate and aberrant version of Christianity which Jim Jones preached — but no mention that I can see of Heaven’s Gate, the group led by Marshall Applewhite which suicided in 1977 to attain a “level of existence above human” in the trail of the comet Hale-Bopp.
No matter, there’s a Heaven’s Gate reference (see above) in the Kenneth Branagh version of Before the Frost, in Wallander, series 3 episode 3, which is the version that caught my eye, and gave rise to this post.
We thus have two clear historical “cult suicide” references, each adding a touch of realism to a narrative that begins with the burning of some swans, and in the TV version includes a Bible with the Book of Revelation heavily marked up, and at least one tract –
— about Leviticus 20.13, which reads:
If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
— a narrative which ends with a series of self-immolations by members of a wayward church, each one accompanied by a “confession” that the member in question is dying to atone for some specific sin committed by others, accompanied by such words as:
Two of them were burned alive in the fiery lake of burning sulphur, the rest of them were killed by the sword that came out of the rider on the horse. And all the birds gorged themselves on the flesh. I confess to murder. I am sacrificing myself for the sins of others. I am doing this in the name of Him who was dead and rose again.
Note that it wasn’t swans that were “burned alive in the fiery lake” in the original context. The King James Version gives Revelation 19 verses 20-21 as reading:
And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.
The group portrayed here as “culturally Christian” in this episode of the Wallander series is a group with a fixation on the inerrancy not only of the Biblical text but of their own particular and peculiar interpretation of it and their own aberrant and abhorrent way of expressing that interpretation.
How different that is from Anders Breivik‘s version of “cultural Christianity” in his Manifesto, prepared before the 2011 slaughter of 77 in Oslo and Utoya, Norway.
Section 3.139 of Breivik’s 2083 European Declaration of Independence, Distinguishing between cultural Christendom and religious Christendom – reforming our suicidal Church, reads:
A majority of so called agnostics and atheists in Europe are cultural conservative Christians without even knowing it. So what is the difference between cultural Christians and religious Christians?
If you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God then you are a religious Christian. Myself and many more like me do not necessarily have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God. We do however believe in Christianity as a cultural, social, identity and moral platform. This makes us Christian.
A majority of Christians, especially liberal, humanist Christians oppose the doctrines of self defence. I believe that self defence is a central part of Christianity as documented in another part of this book. The modern day pacifist Christianity is among other things a result of our current regimes and their deliberate influence of the Church. They castrated and made the Church impotent and irrelevant, we will rejuvenate it by implementing our own reforms. But pragmatism will be the basis for which direction we chose to go. A strong church (on certain areas) is essential for the unity of our European countries.
It is essential that we preserve and even strengthen the Church and European Christendom in general (by awarding it more political influence on certain areas), when it comes to the moral, cultural and social aspects of society. It should even be granted monopoly on certain areas to strengthen European cohesion/unity. This does not mean that we will continue allow the feminist-liberal, humanist faction of the Church to propagate its pacifist-humanist (suicidal) views/anti self defence doctrines. The Church must be anti-pacifist in the manner that it actively preaches self-defence and even support preemptive strikes as a mechanic to safeguard either Christian minorities in Muslim dominated areas or even Europe itself. We must ensure that a sustainable and traditional version of Christendom is propagated. This will involve that we take decisive steps to disallow the liberal leaders of the church to prevent them from committing suicide. We must ensure that the churches of Europe propagate an values that are sustainable and that will even contribute to safeguard Christian European values long term. European Christendom and the cross will be the symbol in which every cultural conservative can unite under in our common defence. It should serve as the uniting symbol for all Europeans whether they are agnostic or atheists.
The pacifist/suicidal Christians must never be allowed to dominate the church again which one of the reasons why I personally believe that the protestant Church in Europe should once again should reform to become Catholic (Nordic countries, the UK, Germany, Benelux etc). Re-introduction of cultural and Church aspects relating to honour should be the core of our objective when reforming the Church. My hope is that the future nationalist leadership in Western European countries will agree. At the very least, we must support the conservative, anti-pacifist cultural Christian leaders and ensure that they are able to influence the European churches. There must however be clear distinctions. The Church must not put any limits whatsoever on issues relating to science, research and development. Europe will continue to be the world’s center for research and development in all areas, strengthened by a predictable and “unchangeable” cultural framework. This again will considerably strengthen European and societal cohesion and therefore contribute to sustainable societies where harmony, progress, freedom and the furtherance of mankind are the primary civilisational pillars.
No Biblical inerrancy there — indeed, Breivik’s “cultural Christianity” is entirely compatible with a similar version of Hinduism, which he also endorses. It is Islam that he perceives as a threat, repulsed from Christendom once by Charles Martel at the Battle of Tours, and again at the Gates of Vienna — with Europe now exposed to a third wave of assault by its own fondness for muticuluralism and its resulting inability to perceive the very real threat that Islam in his view represents…
Breivik’s “The Church must not put any limits whatsoever on issues relating to science, research and development” is a far cry from Wallander’s sect, a member of which was booted out of the school where he taught, for attempting to present the creationist view in a biology class…
So. Breivik is Norwegian, and wrote his manifesto in English. Henning Mankell, the author of the Wallander novels, is Swedish, and his novels have been brought into Enlgish and transformed into dramatic scripts for the TV Series. I don’t believe the words “cultural Christian” are to be found in the English translation of the novel, Before the Frost. But I do think I’ll be checking closely to see what meaning of the phrase is intended, if I run across it again in my studies of new religious movements, terrorists and other outliers.
It appears to be somewhat more ambiguous than I’d thought at first.