Bible in Pop Culture Week 3: Jacob’s Ladder in South Park, Se. 6 ep. 12

BradleyCollege Papers, Religion, Undergraduate WorkLeave a Comment

Genesis 28:10-19 describes a dream experienced by one of the Jewish Patriarchs, Jacob. In the chapter 28 version of events, Jacob is hoping to obtain a wife from his mother’s family in Haran. After a day of traveling, he stops for the night in an undisclosed location and dreams that he sees a ladder reaching from Earth to Heaven, on which angels are both ascending and descending. Jacob believes that the place where he slept is “the house of God” and “the gate of heaven” (The New Oxford Annotated Bible, NRSV with Apocrypha, 4th ed., p. 50).

The idea of the ladder being a way to actually access Heaven utilized in episode 12 of season 6 of South Park (Nov., 2002), “A Ladder to Heaven.” In the cartoon, Stan, Kyle and Cartman win an all-you-can-grab candy prize. They give the ticket stub to Kenny for safekeeping but, as usual, Kenny is killed. In an effort to recover the ticket stub, Kenny’s friends decide to build a ladder to Heaven. Initially, the larger community sees the ladder as a tribute to Kenny’s memory, but the ladder quickly becomes an international competition when Japan decides to build their own ladder into Heaven first. The US Army becomes involved and the ladder passes above the clouds. Stan and his friends are disappointed that they couldn’t find Heaven (and the ticket stub) at the top of the ladder, but the military does discover suspicious-looking clouds that they believe might be a heavenly WMD factory being run by Saddam Hussein, who is deceased in the show. The U.S. government decides that the only option available to them is to preemptively bomb Heaven. The show later reveals that Saddam’s chocolate factory was indeed a WMD factory and he has been lying to God about what he manufactures there.

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