Hollywood Bible #3: Ghostbusters

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I refuse to believe that Ghostbusters came out when I was seven. There’s no way it was released thirty years ago. That just makes me feel old.

After all these years, after all the times I’ve sat there quoting along with Bill Murray and Rick Moranis, I never noticed that they misquote the Bible. Sure, Ray says he’s reciting Revelation 7:12, he’s actually a chapter out. It’s Revelation 6:12 that talks about earthquakes and the sun turning black and darkness covering the earth. It’s a pretty apocalyptic passage, the sort of thing you expect from Revelation. After all, it’s the End Of The World book, the one that’s full of monsters and disasters and the disintegration of society. That’s why it gets used in movies like Ghostbusters.

But the misquote points to a different slant on Revelation; 6:12 is a hymn of praise and worship and celebration: “Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever.” It’s not the sort of thing you expect to hear during Armageddon, when a giant marshmallow monster is stomping on your church.

But then Revelation is a weird book. It’s apocalyptic literature, so weird comes with the territory. The book starts out with letters to seven churches around Asia Minor and then things get crazy – visions of angels and destruction, a collapsed timeline that sometimes feels like it’s talking about historical events and other times seems to be talking about the future. Images shift – a lion becomes a lamb within the space of two verses, and martial imagery of swords and blood gets subverted. It’s currently fashionable to interpret Revelation in a somewhat reductionist way (“x means y, and that’s why z is obviously the antichrist!”), but the reality feels slipperier. It’s not even a book about the End of the World, because in the end Heaven and Earth are reborn.

So maybe we can forgive Ray his misquote – Revelation has confused as many theologians as it has parapsychologists. And even in mis-speaking he becomes a prophet; he and Winston may be having a portentous conversation about how the end is all kinds of nigh, but unwittingly they point to a verse that’s about the triumph of a good God and the destruction of evil. That’s probably a good thing to hold on to next time you’re riding into battle with the forces of evil.

All that said, my favourite line is still: “Listen! Do you smell something?”…

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