All the dirt, news, culture and commentary for Oklahoma's second century.

Who do you say I am?

Al-Masih (Mehdi Dehbi) attracts a large following - and even walks across the National Mall reflecting pool - in "Messiah" on Netflix.
Fertile Ground Compost Service
Help support Red Dirt Report

OKLAHOMA CITY – It was in March 2015 when I posted a sync piece to Dust Devil Dreams titled “Bring on the new messiah,” which addressed a line in the song “Bring On The Dancing Horses” by Echo & The Bunnymen. The final verse of this 1985 song, which was featured in the John Hughes film Pretty In Pink, says just that: “bring on the new messiah, wherever he may roam.”

In the piece I offer my own insights on what the lyrics of the song may mean, while also referencing a 2011 article by blogger Aaron Franz at his website The Age of Transitions, which takes a deep dive into what he thinks Ian McCulloch and company were trying to convey all those years ago.

 “This song is about the alchemical process. It is alluding to the present phase of the Great Work, which is an ages long process of human progress/evolution. We are now living through an alchemical phase which has actually been referred to as an age of transitions. It is an era of rapid change, and our present place in time is actually a period of alchemical dissolution. This means that the world as we know it is beginning to break apart. In the eyes of the Master Alchemists such destruction is viewed as a good thing, because it makes way for an entirely new world to be christened.”

An entirely new world, eh?

Later, Franz soberly suggests the following: “The gods of alchemy both create and destroy. They create systems of human organization (governments/societies) to attain certain goals, and then proceed to destroy those very same systems after they have served their purpose or outlived their usefulness. The Apocalypse has to be brought back every so often to cleanse the Earth of its old ways, and to ring in the new. The Dancing Horses lyric actually refers to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The Alchemist welcomes these riders because they harken the ritual that is Armageddon. That's right, the Apocalypse is actually symbolic of a ritual. It is a death and rebirth ritual on a mass scale. The death of an old world and the birth of a new one. This is actually very basic symbolism within the Mystery Tradition, but when viewed from a macrocosmic perspective the meaning of the alchemical process becomes more significant.

Look, there is something supremely synchromystical about the British alt-rock band, best known for their spooky song “The Killing Moon,” considered one of the best songs of the 1980’s … or, one of the best songs ever recorded. In that same article, I reminded readers of what musician/mystic/prankster Bill Drummond did in the mid-1980’s while Echo & The Bunnymen were performing a concert in Reykjavik, Iceland; “Drummond tried to perform a ritual over a manhole on Mathew Street in Liverpool (Carl Jung reportedly dreamed about this same spot) involving Echo & The Bunnymen …

Drummond had managed the band prior to forming The KLF with Jimmy Cauty, a group that ritualistically burned 1 million pounds in a Scottish boathouse in 1994. The KLF/The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu have a book out. Been out for two years now and titled 2023: A Trilogy (read my review here). If what they say is true, a “new messiah” may be already roaming the planet. And 2023 is only three years off …


I think Drummond and Cauty were on to something. Ahead of the curve, as it were.

So, on January 2, 2020, I was discussing this idea of a “new messiah” on a synchromystic forum, when I noticed a story that says a new Netflix series titled Messiah, which had premiered the prior day – January 1, 2020, New Year’s Day in a new decade.

This was very weird. I had referenced my 2015 “Bring on the new messiah” article and then this story pops up about a new series, Messiah, that is now streaming and the Royal Film Commission of Jordan – the same country where Netflix shot a lot of scenes in the show – did not want it aired there for fear of insulting religious sensibilities in the Muslim country.

I could not believe it, and told my sync buddy Eddie I was floored by this. I naturally took this as a sign that I needed to binge-watch Messiah, just as I had sensed I was to watch Stanley Kubrick’s films in chronological order, beginning with Fear and Desire, which synced exactly with world events unfolding at that very hour, with Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani assassinated via US drone strike at Baghdad International Airport.

In Kubrick’s directorial debut, as I noted in “Pain – and fear – lies on the riverside,” an enemy country’s general is targeted by (presumed) US troops trapped behind enemy lines, along with a lot of other dramatic events that are introduced over the course of the film. Needless to say, the themes in Fear and Desire and this event involving a top figure in the Iranian military kind of spooked me a bit.

And so, after this “messiah” sync, I sensed I was to watch Messiah, which I did in its entirety – all 10 episodes of the first season, which was filmed in the summer of 2018.

Did I like it? Mostly. Some of the writing was a bit clunky (it was created by Australian film writer and director Michael Petroni), and the episodes – directed either by James McTeigue or Kate Woods – could have had a little more punch. But the storyline – about a young man, known as “al-Masih” (or Messiah), is believed to be the return of Isa/Jesus. (The titular character is played by Belgian actor Mehdi Dehbi.


But is he? Who is this guy who leads refugees out of danger? Or offers wisdom or seemingly heals people. But does he? People seem eager to follow al-Masih, even if his miracles aren’t quite as miraculous, although the scene of a boy shot at the Temple Mount – and being saved by al-Masih, with the bullet being miraculously extracted, is compelling stuff. But is it all a big con? And for what purpose? Is al-Masih an archetypal trickster figure? I sense he is, but what is the source of his power?

Al-Masih – who turns out to be an Iranian who was raised by a street magician uncle – has, on the surface, some Christ-like qualities, but they are decidedly vague. This fact makes the story all the more interesting because so many people are taken in by his mere presence, even though his message is rather opaque. This, despite performing a dramatic "walk on water" of the reflecting pool on the National Mall by the Washington Monument (an imposing obelisk that has appeared in prior Dust Devil Dreams, as noted here ... which is interesting in that the last time the Washington Monument appeared at Dust Devil Dreams was in an image in the History Channel's UFO-chasing series Project Blue Book, which returns to that channel later this month)

The Washington Monument looms largely ... in Project Blue Book (The History Channel)

While Muslims in Jordan are told not to watch it, Christians in the West are offered this opinion, via The Christian Post:A conflicting part of the series is that Al-Masih never states what he believes. Many of his attributes mimic Christ, such as walking on water and raising the dead, among many other things, but this second coming is not in line with what Scripture says. The Bible is clear that Christ’s return will be a sight the entire world will behold.”

The Christian Post asks if a figure like al-Masih showed up today, how would much of society react? Would they drop everything and follow him? Would the media cover his message, as they do in the series?

And what I find interesting is the global reach of the show. In it, CIA officer Eva Geller (Michelle Monaghan) is suspicious of this messianic figure. She suspects he might be a terrorist or cult leader. But al-Masih surprises her when they finally meet, causing her to question some things, just as Israeli agent Aviram Dahan (Tomer Sisley) is forced to face his own demons following an encounter with this mysterious figure roaming the world – the new messiah, of “Bring On the Dancing Horses”?

Subplots involve a Baptist minister hungry for a figure to follow. A tornado that wipes out his Texas town and bypassing his church, makes a deep impression. And then there are the Syrian refugees. Among them isa young man named Jibril, who connects with al-Masih. But fate being what it is, ends up with Jibril being taken into the desert after being captured by the aforementioned IDF guy Aviram . Jibril is left for dead. But survives. And when he wakes up in the desert, he seems to follow a dust devil in the distance. That certainly caught my attention …

… as did the fact that Jibril’s friend Samir is captured and taken into a fanatical Islamic group and forced to be a suicide bomber. When Samir tries to read an Arabic-language copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (written 95 years ago about the Roaring Twenties/Jazz Age), he is forced to put away “childish” things.

What is interesting, though, is that Jay Gatsby, in The Great Gatsby, is considered “a Christ figure,” with this analysis at Free Book Summary noting that “Fitzgerald does a good job alluding to the Bible in his novel by using images and events to display the correlation amongst the messiah Jesus."

In one scene in Messiah, a disillusioned student burns a copy of Prof. Samuel Huntington's The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, a influential book in regards to American foreign policy and the way the West needs to move forward in a "complex, multipolar, multicivilizational world." This would make sense in light of the chaos that al-Masih's presence on the world stage seems to be leading to, in all parts of the world, from the Middle East to the US to Russia and beyond. While he attracts followers and believers, he seems, distant.Could it be that, as this reviewer noted, that al-Masih is actually not the Messiah, but the Antichrist? His shooting a dying dog, trapped after a tornado hits, strikes me as decidedly un-Christlike.

Today is January 6th - Epiphany. The 12th day of Christmas. When the Wise Men from the East arrived in Bethlehem to see the newborn Savior. Interesting in light of all that is going on in the world. 

In any event, I sense that the launch of Messiah on New Year's Day 2020 is significant in some way. Perhaps, as Fitzgerald captured the wild 1920's in The Great Gatsby, with the Christlike Jay Gatsby as a central figure, we are being prepared for what we can expect in the 2020's - another decade of great change and great challenge. A time when global uncertainty will further lead to despair and more people seeking answers. A decade where it is likely that messianic figures - con men, cult leaders, religious zealots - will take advantage of the times we find ourselves in and do great things - or great damage. Only time will tell. The TWENTIES are just getting started.

Enjoy this? Please share it!

About the Author

Andrew W. Griffin

Editor & Owner.

Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

read more

Enjoy this? Please share it!

About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

Member of the Oklahoma Press Association
Member of Investigative Reporters & Editors
Member of Diversity Business Association
Member of Uptown 23rd
Rotary Club of Bricktown OKC
Keep it Local OK