Monday, February 15, 2010
What Are You Fighting For?
Where films depart from the rules of objective moral order, they become merely silly. For example, there is a simply absurd scene in the third Matrix movie (I forget the name—Matrix Revisited? Matrix Rehashed? Matrix Regurgitated? Something like that) where Agent Smith, the Evil Secret Policeman of Evil, mocks and challenges hepcat ninja-Messiah Neo, asking him why he fights? Neo, being a hepcat postmodern ninja-Messiah figure, cannot say he fights for truth, justice and the American Way, as the superheroes of an earlier and healthier period could say (despite that Neo is quite obviously fighting for these things); he cannot say he is fighting for the woman he loves (despite that he obviously is, both during her life and in her memory); he cannot say, like an earlier Messiah, but one who did not use so much slick wirework Kung Fu, that he is fighting to bring the bread of heaven to men, to free the captive, to heal the sick and restore the dead to life (even though Neo has been freeing, healing and resurrecting like gangbusters during all three movies). No, his only answer, his sad and pathetic only answer, is to announce (amid a flourish of trumpets meant to sound inspiring) “BECAUSE I CHOOSE TO!” It is enough to make you spit your popcorn onto the floor in a flood of salty, butter-substitute dripping laughter. Well, if that is your reason, why not just choose not? It is, however, the modern subjectivist moral-relativist answer, and, unfortunately, even if moral-relativism were a true doctrine and not a heresy, it is an un-dramatic doctrine. It does not make for good theater.As a fan of the heroic, I am struck by two things.
For one, "truth, justice, and the American Way" is not ours to fight for, It is God's - we are His servants in the fight for those things. Secondly, and relatedly, we have no choice in the matter because we too are His.
"Something bigger than ourselves" is a vitally important concept - Lewis called it a "pre-evangelical" concept. That is to say, before there is evangelism, the world must come to understand that there is such a thing.
But like all things - that can become an idol too. We get so wrapped up in fighting for justice by say, a mission to the Dominican, that we forget why we doing it. We work so hard to prevent abortion that we forget we do so on behalf of the one that made the life to begin with.
The fact of the matter is, the very idea of a hero is a misguided one. Even when we do the heroic, we do not - God does it through us.
We must never forget.