Friday, July 25, 2008

A Philosophical Review of The Dark Knight

If you have not seen the new Batman movie The Dark Knight, you really should. It is definitely worth seeing in the theater. Heath Ledger plays an outstanding Joker and steals the show from nearly the first scene.

Many have already seen and loved this movie. Among those is Greg Boyd, who offer a philosophical review of the movie. Check it out here (WARNING: Spoiler Alert!!!). You can also check out Greg's new website here. Greg's thoughts on the movie are profound.

Here's a taste.

The Dark Knight brilliantly explores the nature of order and chaos. The Joker is a Nietzscheian ubermensch (superman) who lives in a mindless, immoral, chaotic world. He believes order (e.g. societal rules, ethics) amounts to nothing more than artificial constraints cowardly people impose on reality. He exists to expose the joke of our pseudo-orderly world.

And Later.

Along the same lines, The Dark Knight ingeniously explores how easy it is to become the evil that we fight. The Chief Commissioner (Harvey) initially is an uncompromising selfless hero who wants to rid Gotham City of its criminals. But as he suffers personal losses at the hands of evil he is slowly transformed into evil. Instead of overcoming evil with good — which Batman sort of does — he is overcome by evil. He comes to agree with the Joker that anarchy is the most fundamental reality. Hence he believes all order is ultimately futile.

Give it a read and share your thoughts.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

America with a God-Directed History?

Andy over at Think Christian has a great post asking some questions about the history of America.

An article at Touchstone is raising these questions by looking back at The Light and the Glory, “one of the most widely read nonfiction Christian books of all time.” I’ve not read it, but apparently it retells the history of the United States from a “Christian view”—that is, it interprets US history as the story of God actively intervening to shape and preserve a particular nation and way of life. Christopher Columbus stumbled across North America not by luck, but at the urging of the invisible hand of providence. American victories in the Revolutionary War weren’t just the result of human cleverness or luck; they were instances of God nudging history in the right direction.

And later:

Now I really want to track down a copy of this book. Not because I think I’d agree with it—on the contrary, it honestly sounds a little alarming. It’s one thing to believe (as most Christians do) that God oversees and controls events throughout history, but there’s a certain presumptuousness in claiming to be able to recognize not just patterns, but specific points at which God stepped into human affairs and pushed things in the right direction. And then there’s the subtle implication that God’s sovereignty plays out not through a divine authority over all of human history, but through a series of brief interventions interspersed with long periods of presumed inactivity.

He hits the nail on the head at the end:

I’m interested in reading more, but I think The Light and the Glory’s approach should at the very least set off warning bells in our minds. It’s especially suspicious when your vision of providential history coincidentally casts your own country and society as the God-ordained protagonist.