A student gives a presentation on the RELS paper in question, displaying a portrait of Post Malone. Illustration by Maya Winshell.

Postmaloneialism: RELS Essay Invents Religion

The Backdoor is a work of fiction and humor.

WITH MIDTERM season upon us, the time-honored tradition of students turning in poorly executed papers is in full swing. Tenuous thesis statements, vague evidence and a use of trifling and vacuous vocabulary (with the intention of elongating page length and obfuscating arguments) can be found in even the most well-researched paper. However, this semester, one essay stood out.

In a bold move that left professors scratching their heads, religious studies minor Tawny Rowlandson ’21 turned in a fascinating, well-researched paper to her Christian Denominations class highlighting the historical basis and current manifestations of postmillennialism. The only small issue with the paper can be best summarized by Professor of Religious Studies Amanda Smythers.

“Well, for one, the paper she wrote was about Postmaloneialism,” Smythers said. “I guess like, the rapper?”

Rowlandson declared a minor in religious studies after watching Ariana Grande’s “God is a woman” music video and, since then, has found a passion for analyzing pop culture through a Christian religious lens.

“In Revelation 20, an angel is said to come down with a mighty chain and capture Satan,” Rowlandson said. “I mean, have you seen Post Malone? The guy wears so many chains.”

Postmillenialism is the belief that the Messiah will arrive after a thousand year period of peace on earth and that righteous humans must prepare the world for his arrival. Rowlandson’s paper instead addressed Postmaloneialism, in which she defined the rise of Post Malone as the messenger sent to signal that the millennium is imminent.

“At first, it was just a typo,” Rowlandson said. “But the more I looked at it, the more it made sense. Like, so many of his songs contain references to the impending millennium. So I figured, why not take this as far as I can?”

The specific lyrics, Rowlandson said, are spread out over his albums.

“When he says, ‘You prolly think that you are better now, better now/You only say that ‘cause I’m not around, not around,’ he’s addressing the corruption in the churches,” Rowlandson said. “They believe they are morally pure and thus ready for the Messiah, but as one of God’s messengers, Post Malone is telling them that they have continued to grow corrupt in Jesus’ absence.”

She went on in the paper to deconstruct the popular song, “Holyfield.” According to Rowlandson, the opening bars “You seem a little different, from the last time I saw you/I hear it in the way you talk too” address how the people of the world will be unable to recognize the Messiah even as he stands before them.

“And then he goes on to say, “I say send that cup over, they say they got one on the way/I said what part of ‘I am the s–t’ do you not understand/she said she unemployed but that mouth can work’,” Rowlandson said. “I mean, clearly he’s referring to Jesus’ turning of the water to wine, and the unemployed woman is clearly Mary Magdalene. From her lips come the truth of Christ’s power. The parallels just can’t be ignored.”

In her paper, Rowlandson diverged from lyrics for a paragraph to talk about Post Malone’s facial tattoos, which read “stay away” and “always tired.”

“I’ll admit, this part was the hardest to find meaning for in the Scriptures,” Rowlandson said. “But I believe ‘stay away’ over his eye refers to Malone’s inability to be tempted by the evil eye, or Satan. And ‘always tired’ refers to the dead holy Christians who, according to Revelation 20 will rise with Christ for a thousand years. That’s a long time to go with no sleep.”

When asked what grade Rowlandson received, Smythers sighed and took off her glasses.

“Technically, it was the best paper I read all semester,” Smythers said. “I gave her a 98.”

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