But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong….
—1 Corinthians 1:27
We Christians need to be careful about the recent gains we made politically in the last election. There is a euphoria that is building in the Christian community that I believe is premature and lacking in wisdom. Whatever we have achieved politically can easily be taken away (and will be.) We view ourselves as strong now, but this is an illusion, particularly if we are operating from what the world sees as “strength.” If we operate from the world’s perception of strength, we can only lose. Our strength is in God alone, who chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong and to do His work. We Christians are those weak people, and we should know that in our weakness is when we are strongest.
My wife and I don’t watch many movies. Too many contain questionable morality and messages that are filled with worldly wisdom that runs counter to the wisdom of God. Recently we saw two that were acclaimed, Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World and Mystic River, both nominees for the 2004 Oscar for Best Picture. In both movies I found a disturbing message that we Christians would be advised to monitor in the media. (Major spoilers for the movies Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World and Mystic River are included.)
In Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World is a subplot about a midshipman who has not been able to rise in the ranks as should be expected. His temerity is seen as a downfall by his captain, even when he is the one who spies the enemy ship his crew is seeking. After a series of mishaps on board, a rumor is circulated that this midshipman is like Jonah to the crew. He has brought them bad luck and from the perspective of the crew the lot for their condition has fallen on him. He is hounded by everyone and eventually takes his own life by picking up a cannonball and plummeting down with it into the depths of the ocean. At once, the fortunes of the crew are restored, the wind fills their sails, and they soon outsmart the larger and more weapon-laden opponent.
Mystic River has a similar story. Three boys are friends in a lower-class Boston neighborhood. They are accosted one day by two men, who take the boy named Dave for a ride. His friends watch helplessly as Dave is driven off to face repeated sexual assaults by the two men. He escapes after four days, a broken boy who grows up to be a broken man. The other two, Jimmy the small time hoodlum gone straight and police detective Sean, have had only limited contact with Dave over the years, but all three are thrown together when Jimmy’s oldest daughter is murdered. That same night as the murder, Dave comes home to his wife with a stab wound and bloodied hands. He speaks of possibly killing a mugger, but his wife has suspicions when no news of a mugger’s death shows up. Couple this with the fact that both Dave and the daughter were in the same bar mere hours before and her suspicion begins to possess her.
Meanwhile, Jimmy calls in his crew of hoods to do some investigating. Sean, his own family horribly estranged, carries on his police investigation, too. Both lead back to Dave. When Dave’s wife grows more panic-stricken by his odd behavior, she confesses to Jimmy her suspicion that Dave murdered Jimmy’s daughter. Convinced that his friend did the deed, Jimmy and his gang take Dave down to the river’s edge for a confession. Dave changes his mugger story to say that as he was walking home he had caught a pedophile molesting a boy and had killed the man. With violence certain unless he confesses what Jimmy wants to hear, Dave is forced to change his story on the promise of Jimmy that he will let him go if he admits to the daughter’s murder. Dave falsely confesses to it. At this, Jimmy kills him in retaliation. The next day Sean tells Jimmy that they’ve caught the real murderers, two teens, one of whom had a father that had been murdered by Jimmy many years ago. With Dave dead, both Jimmy and Sean realize they can go on with life, the horror and guilt of what happened to Dave as a boy no longer staring them in the face. And Sean’s wife and daughter reunite with him, too.
The blatantly evil message in both those movies is that it is okay to get rid of the weak so long as the strong can survive and thrive for the fact. What is most disturbing to me is how cavalierly both films play this, as if this is the way life should be. If we can get rid of the weak, not only will we not be reminded of our own failings that we see in them, but everyone will be better off when they are gone. It’s the classic scapegoat scenario, but with no remorse, just relief.
With Terri Schiavo facing court-ordered removal of her feeding tube, with abortion still legal, and with Christians seen as the ones in the way of making society strong and just (as viewed by those who hate us), how wicked is this message! How more appalling that these films should be held up for awards.
We Christians are the despised of the world. We hold up the mirror to the world’s face and show it for the pale horror it is. Darkness hates the Light, and the strong hate the weak. We Christians may be the last line of defense for the unborn, the disabled, and the elderly. By allying ourselves with them, we are seen as not only champions of the weak, but weak ourselves for our love for them. The world hates us for defending the weak and for holding up the mirror to the its face. Will they be coming for us next? If we are gone, how much more easily do they believe they can live out their worldly utopia clear of us and our message of repentance and faith in Christ. If we continue to have movies with messages like Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World and Mystic River training others in their loathing of the weak, perhaps it will be sooner rather than later.