I love one piece of Fridge Brilliance in Dogma. The Metatron expresses himself as a Seraphim, being the highest choir of angels. In angelology, one of the defining features of seraphim is that they cannot tell a lie — ever. And that's exactly what the Metatron does. He almost compulsively answers with the truth to every question. Watch the film again; not once does he ever lie or fail to tell the truth to Bethany. When he's asked an inconvenient question, he always tells the truth — but usually in a literal way. When Bethany asks him why God wants her to handle it: "Because of who you are." Bethany asks him, "And who am I?" The absolutely truthful answer would be, "Mary's descendant", but the Metatron's quick — and strictly speaking, truthful — reply is "The girl in the PJs! Stop asking so many questions!" -Saintheart
The ending provides a quite literal example of Deus ex Machina when Bethany pulls God off life support. God out of the machine indeed.
Asrael spends over a million years in hell because he can't think of a way to get himself out but promptly locks onto a plan to get Loki and Bartlby back into heaven, and Serendipidy goes from inspiring 9/10ths of the top grossing movies to being stranded in a strip club because she has writers block. As muses they were meant to inspire others, not themselves.
Bethany's refusal at one point is screaming at Jay that "NOBODY is FUCKING ME!!" Which turns out to be the literal truth, since the conception she has at the end of the film is immaculate — the Virgin Mary, in a way.
Except that immaculate conception and virgin birth aren't the same thing, but who's counting?
Yes, but the child would be immaculately conceived.
Point of clarity. Mary was immaculately conceived, meaning "born without sin", so that she could be a proper vessel for the birth of Jesus. Jesus is the virgin birth, not the immaculate conception. If you wish to disagree, I demand you look it up first, since this misconception is so prevalent that most people will assume I'm wrong after reading this.
A Catholic Cardinal with an Ashkenazi Jewish surname?
Jay's role as a Prophet. At several parts of the film, his dialogue actually predict events that will later happen.
"Guys like me don't just fall out of the sky, you know?"
"The whole world is against us dude. I swear to God."
"Beautiful, Naked, Big-Titted women don't just fall out of the sky, you know?" Cue stripping former Heaven denizen, Serendipity, played by Salma Hayek.
Even before he talks about re-taking the role he once renounced, Loki is still acting as an angel of death: in his first scene, with a rational debate, he kills a nun's faith.
"Serendipity" means "a happy accident." Whereas Rufus sought out Bethany and Jay and Silent Bomb seem ordained by a higher power to find her, Serendipity only meets the gang because Jay just happened to find himself in a position where he needed to prove his heterosexuality. Hence, he and Silent Bob go to the nearest strip club...where by pure coincidence, a muse has taken up a job as a dancer. All of this ends up being very fortunate for Bethany and company. Thus, they meet Serendipity by pure serendipity.
Best part: if this wasn't intentional naming by Kevin Smith...then they meet a character by Serendipity by serendipity and the fact that she's named Serendipity is itself complete serendipity!
The movie's finale sees Bartleby stab Loki, killing him. Loki, having lost his wings, is a mortal and is as dead as any other human. However, he never walked through the arch, meaning his sins have not been absolved. Throughout the film, Loki has repeatedly broken the fifth commandment: thou shalt not kill. He is a serial killer and will be banished to hell for all eternity for what he's done. Loki, it ends up, is a pretty decent guy who thought he was doing God's work and was repelled by Bartleby's wish to kill humans indiscriminately. Azrael claimed that non-existence is better than hell, and he also said that Lucifer was really pissed at Loki and Bartleby. The two fallen angels are going to spend an eternity in hell with a vengeful Satan, and all Loki really wanted was to go home.
Loki and Bartleby are supposedly trapped in Wisconsin for all eternity, and yet they have the freedom to travel all the way to New Jersey.
By the time Loki and Bartleby start their journey to New Jersey, God had already been trapped inside the body of the old man by Azrael's flunkies, meaning that God couldn't stop them from leaving Wisconsin.
But if God stated they were supposed to stay in Wisconsin and they left wouldn't that end existence too?
This troper was under the impression that Wisconsin was just where the two were dropped off and nothing said they had to stay there.
It's the difference between what God commands one to do, and what God outright states as fact. God's commands can be defied (sin), but God's outright declarations cannot ('Bartleby and Loki will never reenter Heaven').
I'd say that the Metatron's statement "for the whole of human history" pretty much covers it. But if they followed the rules, we wouldn't have a movie. Oh wait, God is out of commission, which means the rules cannot be enforced.
Rufus says that Jesus owes him twelve bucks, even though dollars didn't exist two thousand years ago, and presumably they wouldn't need American currency in heaven.
He's probably spent some time figuring out the exchange rate and adjusting for inflation.
This movie postulates that Catholic Dogma (or even just a single Cardnial's interpretation of it) can doom the universe. What happens when millions of Orthodox and Protestants disagree on what God decrees? Certainly, they all have dogma of their own. Wouldn't they cancel each other out? And if it's that easy to negate all of existence, wouldn't that mean that the universe has essentially been in grave danger for thousands of years as Christianity evolved and split apart into different denominations?
Since, again, Christianity Is Catholic in the world of this movie, the mistakes by Orthodox and Protestants don't risk unmaking existence. (However, it does mean that everyone who lived in a period when Catholic doctrine taught that non-Catholics went to Hell is in trouble...)
It should also be noted that Catholic dogma was not the first Christian theology, so why would it matter more than older versions?
Why didn't Metatron go with them and repeat his fiery entrance to get the church closed?
Probably the same reason he sent humans to stop angels instead of sending an army of angels to the church; they were trying to keep a low profile because, of course, any proof of God's existence wastes the point of faith.
Combine that with Fauxlosophic Narration: "It doesn't matter what you have faith in, just that you have faith." It makes a lot less sense than it sounds. Why is having faith in the wrong thing worse than no faith at all? And if none of the things are right or wrong, then what's wrong with not having faith in any of them?
Faith is not limited to religion. You can believe in undefined deity, spirits, or science. To function in this world, we must have faith that the universe is mostly constant. It isn't important why we think it is, just that we do.
Considering the previous sentence was "No denomination's nailed it yet," it's hard to read Serendipity as including those things. And also, the "faith" one has is science is widely considered to be fundamentally different. And she said "it doesn't matter what you have faith in", not "it's important that you have faith that the universe is mostly constant". What if I have faith that the universe is random and mostly shitty? According to Serendipity's logic, especially if it doesn't just mean religious faith, that's fine too, and still much better than not having faith at all.
Serendipity's whole speech also seems to contradict Rufus's idea that we shouldn't have beliefs, just ideas.
Rufus doesn't say you shouldn't have beliefs. He just says it's better to have ideas because ideas can be changed a lot more easily than beliefs can. This is dropping the anvil on the concept of Papal infallibility and that man's understanding of God must change as society moves from the medieval to the "enlightened". As for Serendipity — it's expressed in pop cliche, but "Don't matter what faith you have, so long as you have faith" is basically to wear the fundamental concepts of one's religion — hope, love, and charity — in one's heart rather than pay them as lip service, that God prefers what your heart inclines you to do rather than what you formulaically do according to childhood drilling. This is complementary to Rufus's suggestion it's better to have ideas rather than beliefs; that you pay more attention to your conscience and to the intent behind the words than the literal words themselves. Also, an actual moment of Fridge Brilliance — Serendipity is a muse. It's her job to inspire people, not work out the fine detail — she gets writer's block the moment she comes to Earth. So of course she's going to push inspiration and faith — because they're what she is.
More trashing of this logic, which somewhat clichéedly applies to most relativist positions: if it really doesn't matter what you have faith in, then what's wrong with the faith that a dogmatic Catholic has that hers is the only correct interpretation of God's word, and those who don't believe it and receive the sacrifice are damned for all eternity? (Or the parallel Calvinist's view, or whatever)?
Catholic dogma's a little more flexible than that. Per the Nicene Creed, the Church — a human agency — only acknowledges one baptism for the forgiveness of sins, but it also accepts God's grace is wider than that, and all things being possible to God, that a person of another faith nonetheless living a good life might still (at God's sole discretion) be saved. The Creed does not say that Catholicism is the only available path; it only says that it doesn't recognise any others, but that God is omnipotent and might choose to save someone even though they're not Catholic.
The entire premise of the movie is that God is infallible. So how come He went through five Adams before realizing they couldn't cope with the sound of His voice?
Perhaps She delegated the creating to some angels? After all, the line is "we went through...".
Judging that Angels were perfectly capable of getting hammered before Loki drunkenly mouthed off, God's decree that Angels can no longer imbibe alcohol thus seems to be an self-imposed rule, rather than something physically preventing them from doing so. By that logic, wouldn't the world have ended if Loki and Bartleby simply cracked open a beer and drank it?
Probably. Good thing they didn't, eh?
Not necessarily. It depends how God put the decree. If it was simply something like "Angels are hereby commanded not to imbibe," then we would have been ok. The Angels' disobeying that command would no more prove a contradiction in God's decree than humans' repeated disobedience of the 10 Commandments. Only if God had said "It shall henceforth be impossible for angels to imbibe" would a contradiction be risked. My impression was that the latter is what happened with the idea of Loki and Bartleby getting back into heaven, because as far as God had thought things through this would have only been possible with God's intervention anyway. (So yes, apparently for this plot to work, God can't be either omniscient or omnipotent.)