Friday, April 15, 2011

Apologetics and Despicable Me.

So, I was quite upset this morning in Apologetics class. And I didn't get to express my frustration before the presentation ended and my professor dismissed us. Now I'm on my blog. God, I can't help it, I'm opinionated. I'd like to call it thoughtful. Strong thoughts.

We discussed approaching film with a Christian mind in Apologetics. Megamind was the group's film of choice. I've only seen part of Megamind, but they related the movie closely with Despicable Me. Which I have seen. And love. In these movies, the bad guy is the anti-hero, he is clearly bad, and likes being bad. No one is disguised as being good. In the presentation, the group suggested that bad and good were confused in the movie, that the bad guy, who ends up being good, is mixing concepts and creating a false dichotomy. Maybe good and bad are blurry in these films. I don't really think so. Is it because I'm an adult watching these films? No, I disagree with that, too. Kids aren't going to watch the films, see that the bad guy ends up being good, and start robbing banks. The bad guy is good when he stops robbing the banks, and saves the world or reads a handmade book to his children he adopted. The stories are messy and not easy. They ARE full of bad and good. Is this not much more close to real life than heroic love stories?!

As I sat and listened I kept thinking about scripture, about the Psalms that David wrote, about the oppressors and the bad guys in the Bible, about the disciples and the pharisees and the whore's and then Jesus.

Let me tell you something, we're not Jesus in the story.

We are the rebellious son, the rich ruler, the prostitute, the oppressor, the Peter, the Judas, the Thomas, the Mary and Martha, the bad Samaratin's, and the Pharisees. We're all those people, all at once. I am both the legalistic pharisee and the impure prostitute at the same time.

I'm the bad guy. You're the bad guy. WE are the ones that need to be saved. What? We need a Savior? Because we're bad? Yes. That is the Gospel.

And so, a story about a bad bad man that leads to redemption feels much closer and much more accurate. Not because the Hero stories do not contain truth, too. They do. The problem is who we associate ourselves with in the Hero stories.

Again, we are not the Hero. Jesus is the Hero. We are the ones that need saving. Without Jesus, in fact, everything we do is utterly useless. No amount of goodness will help anyone. People need Jesus.

Listen, I embrace my depravity. What else can I do? Pretend it isn't there? At the same time that I am totally depraved, I am also totally loved. What comes of the perfect balance of depravity and knowledge of identity (loved)? Humility. (Sorry, side note, just a plug for humility).

Anyway, watch this clip, if you don't mind a spoiler. Otherwise watch the whole movie first. And ignore the language at the bottom, this was the only clip.


Larissa Kay said...

There is nothing better about mixing sin with good then to use an illegal video clip.
And, Emma, I am so glad you blogged this. So glad that I was there to hear this rant in person and so glad that Bible school has taught us that we are sinners who have been redeemed in order to serve rather than produced religious arrogance and fervor for being right.
I'm glad to have grown up next to you.

Donna Boucher said...

This is your best blog post to date. You are right.
I hadnt thought of it like this and it's too bad you were not able to share it with class.

But please. Stop saying prostitute and whore.
It upsets me.

Life with Kaishon said...

To be honest, I was confused about that. The very bad person turns out to be a good person. Isn't that we all hope and wish for? That all the bad would go away? I guess I love the grace in the movie.

The grace and forgiveness that can help the terrible evil state of the person be overlooked.

nanc said...

Excellent article Emma.

amy said...

Thanks Emma. A timely reminder - the week of the celebration of the Hero's most heroic act.

Jon Reisinger said...

I'm fully convinced that the adults that grew up in the church have forgotten the periphery of the stories they were taught as kids. We've forgotten that every other person on the planet died during The Flood. We've forgotten that David killed a man for Bathsheba (teach that in True Love Waits). We've forgotten that the heroes are often the villains of someone else's story. I bet Uriah the Hittite didn't see David as the hero. Well... maybe not in retrospect.

Maybe that's the problem with spiritual media. We're afraid to get dirty. No round character is perfect. No perfect character is real. As soon as we try to deify a character the story is boring. Unreal. Devoid of impact.

Here's a story idea - Write about Jesus from the perspective of the Pharisees. I bet he doesn't look like a hero to them.

Great post. Really enjoyed it.

tyler. said...

You're highlighting the evangelical need for all stories (and particularly Bible stories) to have modern trappings: good guys, bad guys, rising action, and resolution. The Bible doesn't cater to that need as well as we'd like (David is a "good guy" who had many wives and concubines. Judas is a "bad guy" who was one of Jesus' closest friends for years with no apparent troubles.)

The Bible doesn't tell stories with an eye towards human application, but God's glorification. Our stories honor him best when they tell the story he wrote (and writes) most accurately. And the true version is, of course, what you said: that we are in dire trouble. That can make for a very good story indeed.

Jon Reisinger told me I needed to check out your blog, and he was right. Very good thoughts, very well put.

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