Friday, April 4, 2014

Movie Illustrations on The Flesh, The World, and The Devil

I'd like to have titled this post "Random Angry Thoughts About Unfairness" or "Letter to the World...." followed by a lot of swear words.

Really, it's amazing how the human heart can turn into an inferno of frustration, anger, and just plain meanness at the drop of a hat. Sometimes, I wonder if all the Bible studies and prayer times and psalm sings in the world do a whole lot to turn us (mainly me) into anything other than Spawn of Satan when something goes wrong.

Something Always Goes Wrong

One of my 100 favorite films, 28 Days, has a great supply of quotes and illustrations because the main character (Sandra Bullock) is dealing with addiction. I deal with a sin addiction on a daily basis, so it's not too hard to relate. One of the counselors relates the common scenario of making a promise not to indulge in the addiction, "and then something would happen - or nothing would happen - and I'd get that feeling. And you all know what that feeling is." The hands shake, the eyes bulge, and you've just Got to Have That Something, whatever it is. Having it doesn't solve the problem, just sets you up for more issues later.

The World Is A Bitterly Hard Place

Ebenezer Scrooge is both my favorite and least favorite character in all filmdom, mostly based on the best Christmas Carol film ever.  "I think the world is becoming a very hard and cruel place, Mr. Marley. One must steel oneself to survive it, and not be crushed under with the weak and infirm." As Scrooge gets more involved in 'real life', his face gets colder and more impersonal, ostensibly stronger and better able to deal with the hard facts of the world both condemning and screaming after wealth, crushing the lives of the poor.

However, it's the kind Alice whose 'gentle tongue breaks a bone' with some real truth: Scrooge is operating out of greed and fear. Changing to meet the harshness of the world only makes him cruel and self-deceived about his inability to be content, or suffer despite obstacles. Fearing to be crushed under the pitiless wheels of the world, he merely crushes others in his haste to get away and survive. She knows that survival is not the highest good.

The Devil's Disappearing Act

You might think that the only good illustrations about Satan come from horror films - really, that's the last place you should go. He's far too obvious in his effects there, not the least of which is that strange and horrified addictive fascination with evil that horror films tend to create.

Other than the extremely frightening depictions of Satan's voice and stare in The Passion, the best illustration of how the Devil operates (I think) is in The Devil's Advocate. He's always a liar, from nurturing rebellious thoughts about God 'making up' rules to suit His own fancies, to claiming that he has power he doesn't have, to claiming to be man's helper - helping us reach our highest potential without God. That's always the catch - God has to be left out for us to really flourish.

Satan takes the truth about himself, and puts it on God. He's the accuser, he's the one who stands at the brink of the abyss and tells us we shouldn't have done what he suggested as a great idea, he's the one who plays with us and rejoices when we fall. And then he blames God, and hopes we'll blame Him too.

Faith often reasserts itself after I've nearly lost the battle. Perhaps God will be gracious, and allow me to win sometimes without coming to the edge of the pit. In heaven, I shall laugh and not cry, there will not be any weeping or gnashing of teeth.

I lift my eyes to the hills, from whence comes my aid, my safety, and my Rock.