Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Dark Knight trilogy: A fitting conclusion

SPOILER ALERT: Read only after you have seen The Dark Knight Rises.

Who am I? What is my purpose?

Themes that haunt all of us as human beings. And themes addressed in great depth by Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. Whatever the answers given in the movies, there is no doubt that they ask the right questions.

This Batman is one that has been searching for answers his entire life. After the murder of his parents, he grew up fearful and alone. His beloved Gotham City is under the total control of evil, and he is under the spell of one of the most evil of emotions - revenge. As the series progresses through the first two movies, he wrestles with revenge, and at an even deeper level, he wrestles with this question:

How evil does a society have to be to warrant tearing it down and starting over?

Grace vs. karma.

On the night TDKR opened, you all know that there was an unspeakably ghastly act of cowardice and evil at a movie theater in Colorado. As I write this, twelve are dead and scores more injured by gunfire. It is hard to even imagine what it must be like for those families. Acts like this tempt us to ask that same question: Is our world so evil that no one is worth saving. What would it take for God to reach that conclusions?

In the movie, Bruce Wayne (Batman) battles a lot of demons. He still feels guilt and anger over his past.  He only sees his own value in the symbol of The Bat, and so he has become a recluse as society has appeared to recover. Deep down, he knows the recovery is built on a lie. And whatever the good intentions, a lie is always a shaky foundation. Deep down, he knows this.

Well, despite the spoiler alert, this is not intended to be a synopsis, so I jump to the point.

Grace vs. karma.

Whatever demons he is fighting, Bruce is never, ever willing to give up on the people and the city he loves. At great personal cost, he fights. And the interesting thing to me is that he fights not the evil and the crime itself, but another force (The League of Shadows) that believes it's time to give up. Kill them all. There's no hope for redemption.

Uh uh, says Wayne. Nolan's Batman is, at his heart, a warrior for grace.

Over and over, the Scriptures say that YHWH is slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love. He exercises so much grace, grace that we don't deserve. We are so corrupt. We have anger, bitterness, revenge, selfishness, and so much more in our hearts. Always getting ready to bubble to the surface. Why is it tolerated?

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

Because of his character. No other reason. He loves us, and wants to give us every opportunity to come back to him. There will come a day when it's over. But not yet.

Ands so, for all his faults, Bruce Wayne is fulfilling an important purpose in this movie. He is an agent of grace and patience, and thus he is helping to carry out God's purpose. Even with the pooler alert, I'm not going to talk about the ending, but let's just say that in the willingness to sacrifice everything, he found peace.

The Dark Knight Rises was an awesome movie, just as the series was. It deals with dark themes, and some have associated that with the tragedy surrounding it. I think that's a mistake. I think it asks questions that can only be answered by the good news of Jesus. And anytime art can get us to think about that, it's a good thing.

What is your purpose? How can you be an agent of grace in your world?

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