7/30/08

Dark Knight presses question on human nature

Saturday night Tricia and I went to the 5:30 matinee of “The Dark Knight.” In its second weekend, we got the last two seats together that weren’t in the front row. “Knight” passed the $300 million mark in ten days--six days sooner than the previous record holder, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.”

Guess that’s good sign for the economy.

It surprised me how little opportunity for acting we get from Christian Bale as Batman. Christopher Nolan’s film develops other characters to a much greater degree, particularly, Heath Ledger’s Joker, who is frighteningly deranged and diabolical.

It’s the kind of show that keeps you wondering, What’s going on now? And you have to trust that sooner or later you’ll pick up most of the pieces--if not the first time, then the second time you see it. That may be what’s driving some of the box office numbers.

Plus it’s just a good escapist thrill.

But rather than send us to a utopian world, it magnifies the terror of our world. The joker doesn’t want to win. He just wants everyone to lose. His violence is senseless. And he believes that his brand of chaos and anarchy is deep within each one of us and will soon prevail.

“The Dark Knight” prompts us to ask again if people are basically good or evil. And like Nolan’s film, it seems to me that the Bible doesn’t have a completely one-sided answer.

Our scripture says that God’s original design for humanity was utterly and completely good, but we are badly corrupted. Fortunately, God’s grace is a force at work which keeps goodness alive in this world. Therefore, the original goodness isn’t totally lost in us. It can still be found.

And yet we are still warped by our self-serving delusions--by the sin within. God hopes to lead us to receive and live in his grace, made perfect in Jesus. God’s plan is to restore us to the original design--in this life and fully in the age to come.

7/17/08

He was humble and hurting--and that's why I liked him

Sunday night Tricia and I attended the Steven Curtis Chapman concert in Fremont, Nebraska. I love his music, and some of his songs have been favorites at Horizons, including "Dive," "Live Out Loud," and "The Great Adventure."

We'd been planning to attend the concert for a few months, but when we learned in May that one of Chapman's daughters had just died in an accident, we wondered if it would be cancelled.

The Chapmans have five children: two teenage sons, and then three younger daughters adopted from China. The youngest, five-year-old Maria, had apparently wandered behind a vehicle while one of the sons was backing out of the driveway. The name of the son driving has never been released.

Throughout the concert, Chapman did not hide his grief. As matter of fact, he talked about Maria and their grief between almost every song. He shared that her death has made him ask if he can still sing these songs. What he found, through this test of faith, is that he has to sing them differently now. Interestingly, Chapman's two sons played in the band, one as a guitarist and one as the drummer.

I appreciated that Chapman was so transparent and humble. He knows there's a lot about life and God he doesn't understand, but he clings to the God he does know through Jesus Christ.

He grieves but with hope. And that's why he can still sing.

"Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest, who have no hope" (1 Thessalonians 4:13, TNIV).