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Salvation and violence

Enjoyed I Am Legend for what it was (a big budget Hollywood blockbuster). Understanding its limits, there's a scene that stuck with me because of the larger story it reflects.

The dystopian near-future of the film is a result of our attempt to cure ourselves (of cancer)—instead this unleashed a virus that killed most, turning nearly all of the remaining population into near-mindless cannibals unable to survive in the light. Ravaged by disease, misshapen, out of their minds, they savagely attack and devour anything showing signs of true life. The protagonist, Robert Neville, believes himself to be the sole survivor. A scientist and military man (great combination if you're going to be the last man on Earth), he is driven to find a cure for the condition of the infected populace (work he'd begun before the cataclysm).

Cornered behind plexiglass cracking under the onslaught of sub-humans with snapping jaws, Neville discovers that, after years of trials and failures, he has a cure that will work. Desperately, he cries out, "I can help! I can fix this! Let me save you!" Too far gone, the sub-humans continue their attack, bent on destroying the one man who can save them. Their fall is both horrific and tragic.

The offer of salvation from the One who can give it is likewise often met with snapping jaws and violence. Though we know we are broken and diseased, we want our own way, lashing out at life and light. We create our own "order," rejecting health and hope, except as something to devour and destroy for our own ends. We are so much less than we are created to be, and it seems we're committed to making every effort to keep it that way. Because we no longer possess the capacity to imagine anything better than our own desire, our rage often becomes focused on the One who offers salvation.

One of the wonders of the gospel is that even this was part of His plan—He knew we would destroy Him, and He made our violence an integral part of His mercy. That's a kind of hope and grace I cannot fathom, much less undo.


Wow, I so do not want to see that movie

I am not into cannibalism in any form, hate it in movies. However, your analysis of our disdain for the One who saves us is very interesting (I want to use another word here but cannot think of it). Thank you for your comments on the human condition, the way we are blind to what is best for us.

Basic truth

Have you seen this?

Re: Basic truth

I hadn't until now—that kid is definitely learning a few things (even though the background music seemed a bit cloying, but that's just a matter of preference).

The piece that really struck me in the scene, however, was the fallenness of the now-subhumans and the violence of their reaction to the person who could save them. It's just a movie, of course, but it echoed our reality in ways I think we're often uncomfortable expressing, much less owning. There's still so much bitterness and hatred toward Him and His Church, and while the latter has much to be forgiven for, the fact that He grants this grace seems to only further enrage those who are violent toward Him.

Re: Basic truth

Reminds me of John 15

18"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you …They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. … But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: 'They hated me without reason.'

Isaiah 53:2
He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.


Hey Banzai. Long time no talk to.

I liked the movie for the way it kept on going "gotchya" and then "gotchya again". What an adrenaline ride.

dunno if I like the analogy you are drawing a super lot, since I'm sort of definitely more in the camp of the raging cannibals than the military scientist savior. I mean per your analogy. But I don't really see myself that way. Seems to me the point of the movie was more that we are gonna have to fix the shit we create, cause no one else is gonna fix it.
O man, how well you protect yourself from anything that may do you good.
- Aslan to the Magician
I don't believe I'm the only one that did it "God's way" and then was raped (or suffered some other terrible thing) because of it, and then thoughtfully and carefully looked at my beliefs and rationalizations regarding my faith over the period of a decade and decided it was my faith (and the faith of others) that caused it. Some of us have carefully considered the impact of our faith on others both in the positive and the negative when we faced our cognitive dissonance. That is not snapping jaws or violence and I take umbrage with your comparison of people who thoughtfully considered their faith and scripture - who know it well and lived it and then rejected it - to something that sounds like flesh eating zombies - mindless, violent, broken, diseased, lashing out, selfish, unhealthy, hopeless, full of rage, stubborn, devouring and destroying. People who have rejected that offer of "salvation" are some of the best people I've known. Giving, tender, generous, considerate, peaceful, thoughtful, and loving are better words to describe them. They've done and sacrificed more for their fellow man than most of the Christians I've known.

I have more to say, but in the interest of being loving and understanding (and because I've once been of the mindset that would have once made such an unconsidered comparison), I'll stop now.
I know the comments section of my journal isn't an ideal place to engage the kind of pain and suffering connected with rape. Nonetheless, I'm truly sorry you've had to endure what's happened in your life.

The first part of your first sentence reflects a basic tenent of the Christian faith: Jesus did it "God's way" and was crucified for it. Anyone who might suggest that following Him can somehow be equated with reduction in or freedom from suffering is willfully ignoring a great deal. It's simply untrue, so if that's a significant part of how one evaluates the gospel, rejecting it on that grounds is unsurprising.

(Admittedly, I'm ill-equipped to evaluate the specific causes of anyone else's suffering, though I realize that it can indeed come wrapped in the cloak of faith. Abuse does not negates proper use, however, so I don't believe that harm done in Christian guise necessarily has any bearing on the truth of the gospel. What's heartbreaking to me is the impact such harm can have on people's experience of the gospel. That God can forgive even this is staggering.)

My view of the human condition may be both better and worse than you might imagine it to be—I don't have a population I believe to be exempt from needing a cure. Nor do I believe any of us have cured ourselves. The tragedy of our state is that we were created to be much more than what we have become, and the beauty of the gospel is that we can be restored. We are, of course, much more complicated than representations in a science fiction movie. Like any analogy, this one is limited, and I've made no attempt to suggest otherwise. There is beauty to be found in brokenness, and brokenness in beauty. Nevertheless, I find the picture of how we fallen people often respond to One who can cure us compelling and accurate. I fully realize others may not see it the same way, but that doesn't change what I see.

I also recognize the inherent risk of offense in the specificity of Christ. To say we are broken would be acceptable to many if not most of us; to say we can be cured may lose a few, but still goes down pretty easily. To say there is a single cure in the person of Jesus, however, upsets the apple cart a great deal, even to the point of spurring a rejection of the first two propositions. Such a specific answer seems too limited and limiting, and it can also be deeply threatening to things we hold dear. As one who believes in this specificity, however, I'd be thoroughly self-interested and unloving to suggest something less, knowing that, in the end, I'm giving you rubbish (in hopes that it will be more palatable and that I will be more likable).

Thanks for your willingness to respond. I wish I could talk over coffee rather than by firing electrons across a screen.