The other night Sarah and I wanted to watch a movie. We felt like something a little intense and were limited by Canadian Netflix, so we went with “Unthinkable”. It was an alright movie, but it’s primarily about torture so… you know. Think of the torture scene that made you squirm most in “24” and then crank it up 5 or 6 notches. The film is essentially the discussion of whether torture is ever appropriate. Similarly (actually almost identically) to “24” our protagonist is struggles with questions like how do you weigh effectiveness vs human rights? How far is too far? And is there easy math (torture one to save one million) we can apply? Ultimately, when faced with complete evil, does morality “work”.
After the movie,it was late and adrenaline was high so, when there was a loud-ish unexplained noise in our house I was sent out on the husbandly duty of inspecting the house for intruders, none were found so we settled back into bed. However Sarah was still feeling nervous and took quite a while to fall asleep.
I was reflecting on that event later and wondered why or if watching a movie about such a gruesome topic was the best idea. Then I got to thinking of the bible verse “Whatever is good, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, think about these things”
I can’t imagine anyone using the adjective “lovely” to describe torture.
Then I thought of “be innocent of evil”
Innocence doesn’t seem to be a priority in our society, it’s not something we protect. Being innocent, naive or sheltered is not to be proud of (just ask Brittany); but yet there seems to be a strong biblical mandate for it. Heck, what was The Fall (Gen 3) all about? Eating from the tree of “The Knowledge of Good and Evil”, because Eve wanted to be “like God, knowing good and evil”. It would seem that innocence is good for us.
ALL THAT BEING SAID, have you read the Bible? It’s not all sunshine and rainbows. As I mentioned in my post “The Danger of Safe Art” the bible comes complete with many stories of rape, war, murder, genocide, and other things I don’t tell my kids about just yet.
How does being encouraged to dwell on whatever is good, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely line up with being encouraged to read the story of a Levite cutting up his concubine into twelve pieces and mailing her around the country (remind you of any current news stories?). I have always been of the opinion that art has to reflect reality. I don’t think the scripted dialogue of a bunch of soldiers in the trenches should be “Oh Boy, well by golly, I think my pal Jim just got shot”. That’s not how war is. If we are going to reflect the world and the horrors of it, we need to be honest. How else can we express (or understand) the ugliness humans experience and inflict on each other or really explore questions like the ones posed by “Unthinkable”?
Somehow we are called to hold these things in tension (I actually think that almost everything of importance is held in tension, but that’s another post). Somehow the same God who tells us stories of horrors reminds us to think about whatever is good pure and lovely.
I will leave with one more thought, not my thought, someone much smarter’s: “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. ”
What do you guys think? How do we hold this tension in the art we consume as well as the art we create?