08 June 2006

...and Good Luck.

This evening I watched "Good Night, and Good Luck"--for those of you unfamiliar or out of country, this is a film treating the topics of McCarthyism and news ethics in the person of Edward R. Murrow, primarily. I cannot claim any awesome skill as a film critic (and I often marvel at how our nation seems peopled with simply millions upon millions of self-proclaimed media experts), so I shall only say that I very much enjoyed this movie and felt somewhat stirred by it.

Allow me to preface with the fact that I have spent the past several days researching and composing an essay on the pernicious influence of pornography, and the research alone left me quite frustrated (no pun intended). To hear the makers of pornographic media describe their liberty and their pure motivation of pleasing the demands of a hungry public, made me sick and angry together. Callous. Vile. Aberrant. Pitiful. Such are these men and (somehow this seems even more abhorrent) women. So much about this $57 billion per annum industry grieves my soul that I probably have not lines nor heart enough to type it here. I fear for the men and women involved in these videos or photographs, knowing how they abuse their Maker's image in it, and how there shall be accountability for us all. None shall be judged more harshly for this wickedness or that; it is enough to be judged, and that should make a hearty man tremble. I think too of Jesus' words regarding the person who causes a child of God to sin, and I think how right Edwards was--it is indeed a terrible thing.

It is right to attack wickedness with true words and the authority God gives to men who speak truth. So I shall simply say that the film this evening encouraged me of the power in strong words, ideas, and morality. We ought still be an effrontery to wicked men. We ought not shy away from terms such as "good" or "evil," exchanging them for shallow, bland ideas. Speak clearly, demand justice and honor, be bold. And let us prove ourselves good men and women.

3 comments:

Broadstone said...

Amen and Amen.

"The righteous are as bold as a lion"

kristen said...

you are right, i think and it is a balance i find myself needing to restore in my life. i am very quick--and i think this is a good thing--to try and see the other side of an issue. example: pornography and the shear greed of it horrifies me as well. as a self proclaimed feminist, i also dislike the way it objectifies people (though some say they find it liberating?). my point is that my near to first thought while reading the little you wrote on it was "yes, but i think it should be legal because people are going to do it anyway and someone should make sure those women (and sometimes men) are being treated well, not forced/kidnapped, and at the least getting paid." i still think that but it is hard to think that way and still have the courage to call something evil. i find it even more difficult to name things "evil" since our president has used the word so haphazardly.

Broadstone said...

Interesting thoughts, Kristen. You seem rather torn. In one regard you want (do I hear a longing as well) to call something "evil." And yet, very tolerantly and with something of kindness, you desire that they at least get paid well and are not forced to perform these acts. Finally, your abstinence towards making absolute claims is appears based on anothers misuse of a term.

I would respond this way: The definition of evil is not held sway by anothers misuse of the word or whether we like the use of the word or even the definition.

This is truly a question of our generation. What is truth? Why is there good and evil? Is there good and evil? So your hesitancy is expressive of our "postmodern" tendency to not want to hurt others by defining them within absolute moral bounds. This is not helpful (pragmatically) or meaningful (relationally or morally). Moreover, while we trip over others misuse of terms, or our own, pornography, war, greed and every other evil flourishes. You are right to want to call this evil.

Ultimately, we need truth and clear definitions of evil and good. Yes, it is true, whoever defines Good and Evil are who tend to have power. But, not always; there are many stories and present day people and events which display being "right" yet suffering and being rejected for being "right."

Our gut tells us that we cannot trust humans to define Good and Evil, especially since we find tendecies toward both, often toward evil, veiling our good deeds with self-serving motives; and using "good" reasons for our evil behaviour.

Thus, being able to define the good and the evil means having power to punish, manipulate and dominate. Human history from past to present is repleat with examples. Look around you in your own life, people are always kingdom building at others expense.

We are left with a problem. Who will help us define and demand what is Good of ourselves and others and define and call us to hate what is evil in ourselves and others? It has to be someone who is not only powerful to do so, but all knowing,all wise and good. I don't believe we are suitable to this task.

So, I "feel" what you are saying. I appreciate what seems to be a desire to allow for "the other side." But, even in being gracious in this regard, we still have to have the insight and strength to call evil as evil.

I cannot do any of this without God who reveals both His Justice and Goodness in the person of Jesus Christ. The cross is God's holy justice on display in the death of His Son for human evil. The cross is also a display of infinite love and mercy because our evils are forgiven. So, in this sense, God is the only one who can "see both sides" and make them come together without compromising His justice or His love.

This is the only "paradigm" that makes sense of both good and evil. I had a friend ask me, "What do you do about all of the evil in the world. I mean what about a God who allows such bad things to happen?" I told him, "I look at the cross. The cross is evil and evil men tortured and then killed Jesus. But, God wanted the cross, ordained the cross and the cross is the greatest news to hopeless sinners like you and me." You may or may not have his same response, but he said, "That makes complete sense."

The problem with rejecting this is that you still are left with the problem. As a "feminist" you are keenly aware of injustice to women in America and abroad. But what is Justice? If it is simply left to your opinion or to my own, what happens when we disagree? Our history in America and other countries is this: Whoever has the power defines Justice. Democracy is useful only so far as the majority opinion keeps individual quacks in check. But, what happens when the majority is wrong and the quack happens to be right?

Again the problem. We need massive help. Your gut is often right in telling you "This is wrong."

If we leave the conversation there, evil continues, and we either become tolerant or dictators.

We have to bring the problem back into our own hearts and minds as well. I have asked hundreds of middle and high school students in public classrooms, "If there were no rules, no consequences, no judge, no jury, no death sentence or jail for anything you did what would happen?" Their reply has been 100% of the time (no exaggeration), "Man, everyone would be killing, stealing and raping." I then ask, "When you say "everyone" do you mean yourself too? Are you saying, given the chance you would want to get away with what you could?" A sly grin and a 'yes' generally follow or else the shock awareness of what they've just said.

By the way, I really appreciate your post. It has made me write and think through several issues.

I will cut and paste your dialogue and leave your name out on my blog and I will not link back to you or your comments here. I am not doing this to trophy my response to you. RAther, I think this is an important conversation that our generation needs to be having.

You and I live in a world that hates to hate evil and loves loving ourselves. We tend toward entertaining ourselves to death. Our general expression is one of boredom and angst. We ride the pendulum between extreme hopelessness and extreme frivolity. We are lost and think our lostness is a cool ride. We are fashionable but not beautiful because we no longer know what Beauty is. We like friends but don't know what a Good friendship is. We have longings we cannot define. We have guilt we need rid of. We have injustices that we long and demand to have righted. We are in need of a Savior.

Feel free to email or interact on my own blog.

grace and peace,

Kelly D Bridenstine