Friday, July 20, 2012

True and False Hope in Our Movies

Josh Larsen:

When our culture’s biggest films express hope – and when audiences embrace them for doing so - it’s evidence that we collectively yearn for something better, that even those without faith ache for a world as God intended it to be.

And yet there is something false about the hope offered by The Dark Knight Rises. It’s false to the series in particular and false, in a wider reading, to the sort of hope that Christians hold dear. The last-minute assurance the movie gives us reminded me of certain portions of N.T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection and the Mission of the Church. Discussing contemporary, feel-good ideas about heaven, he writes, “What we have at the moment isn't as the old liturgies used to say, 'the sure and certain hope of the resurrection of the dead,' but a vague and fuzzy optimism that somehow things may work out in the end. ”

As Christians, we need to carefully discern between vague hope and resurrection hope in our popular stories. It does Scripture a disservice to mix one with the other. Christian hope isn’t simply a happy ending. It isn’t a villain’s death. It’s belief in the prospect of a new creation, one borne of sacrifice, forgiveness and even, at times, earthly defeat.
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