Posts Tagged ‘morality

14
Sep
08

Batman – My Hypothetical Hero

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  John 15:12-14
Batman Forever is my favorite movie.  It paints the question of motivation vs. results and brings to life moral debates never settled.  I love the questions, the way it makes me consider humanity and the fine line we walk.  In school, my daughter’s moral philosophy teacher uses this character to make their discussions of Odysseus more pertinent.  They are discussing what makes Batman the quintissential hero.  Well…two things.  He is wealthy beyond measure and has a vengeful spirit.  Bruce Wayne is driven by a spirit of vengeance, and the result is goodness as he moves through Gotham’s black night, banishing evil.  This good that is done, though, does not speak of heroism.  It is a fortunate byproduct of a bitter heart.  Bruce Wayne is a loose cannon and would have acted the same whether he was on the side of good or bad.  In his case, it is fortunate that he is on the side of that which is good.  The message of the movie would be much different if his father had been a drug lord and was gunned down by the angry family of an addict, driving Bruce to reak vengeance against the “establishment.”  Still, the on the surface it would look the same.  Bruce Wayne devotes all of his life, wealth, and strength to avenge his fathers death.  In the original scenario, justice.  In the hypothetical scenario, senseless violence.

If Batman cannot be the great hero of our generation, then who do we have.  Not many.  A hero is one who takes the time to examine his motivation.  He needs to check the recesses of his heart to ensure that what he does stands for justice, not just because he happens to be on the right side, but because he is just.  This man has to lay down his life in order to pursue justice.  A life laid aside is a painful separation.  I think of the men portrayed in “The End of the Spear” and their wives.  These men went to a cannibal tribe to minister to them, but the cannibals killed them savagely.  Their wives later went to the tribe to live among them and raise their children there.  Under their influence, the tribe has turned to Christianity and, therefore, away from a life of cruel cannibalism.  One of the murdered men’s sons acts as the tribe’s minister.  It is wonderful that these men are Christians, but with the faith comes a life of spiritual prosperity.  Their children and their children’s children are living better lives because of the spirit of forgiveness these women bore at great cost and sacrifice.  I highly doubt that living with these people and raising their children with them was what the women wanted, but something stirred deep inside and they laid selfishness aside.  That is heroism – the hero has no self.

Another hero – the mother of the slain Matthew Shepard.  If you remember, this young man was beaten and tied to a fencepost in Wyoming.  He died tied to that fencepost.  The men who beat him to death were on trial.  They would be sentenced to life at best, be sentenced to death at worst.  Matthew’s mother stood up to these men who stole her son’s dignity, his wallet, and left him in a God forsaken place to die.  She did not spit.  She did not swear vengeance.  She forgave.  She asked the courtroom for forgiveness, saying that she did not want to ruin their families’ lives as hers had been ruined.  She understood that there is no comfort in another ruined life.  This was hers to bear, not to share.  That is heroism – the hero forgives generously.

These people are not what comes to mind when we conjure our heroes, but it is a spirit like theirs that carries our country and our world, even our families and neighbors, when they need to be carried.  We may want the Batmobile coming to our rescue when darkness surrounds us, but it may be hard to see; it, too, is black.  The one we need is the friend who would lay his life down for us, never considering his self.

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29
Aug
08

That which is Caesar’s

Barack Hussein Obama was surprisingly dull of speech tonight.  I anticipated a rhetorical treat of epic proportions, but here I sit unfulfilled.  It was standard fare for the acceptance speech – promise the world, pander to the masses.  And hey – he wants to fight injustice?  He should do something about the $80.00 charges for parking.  Yes, $80.00, Mr. Obama, let’s see you move your feet (as you say) and take care of that!

My actual concern is not the parking or those foolish enough to pay for it.  The unintended consequence of this speech is the argument made for the separation of church and state.  Any argument over supposed moral standards in government brings this to mind.  Our politicians will argue to the death, admonishing us for not caring about mothers separated from their children because of our immigration laws.  They will belittle us for sending our (volunteer) troops into battle to die.  They will belittle us for not sending our troops to the right battle.  They will question why not everyone deserves the same standard of living, why we aren’t better at sharing. 

This speaks to time-tested Biblical wisdom.  Matthew 22:21 says, “Give to Caesar that which is Caesar’s; give to God what is God’s.”  Of course, Christians use this passage to enourage each other to pay their taxes and to tithe without conflict.  The passage is about taxes.  But could we apply this beyond taxation?  When our candidates win elections by tugging at heartstrings, it indicates that our government is much bigger than it should be.  We have lost sight of our government’s role.  Our government was established to impartially protect us according to the letter of the law, to build roads that ensure interstate commerce and mobility, and to standardize currency.  If our government acted as just that, an impartial entity, enforcing our laws and encouraging interstate commerce, the rest of us would be free to care for those less fortunate in any way we see fit.  Frankly, I want the government to deport illegal immigrants.  They have broken a law set forth for the protection of our country.  However, on a personal level, if an immigrant comes to me hungry – legal or not – I want to offer help.  I want to offer compassion.  I do not want to be labeled.  I do not want to be concerned that my act of compassion will be misinterpreted for a disregard or worse, distaste, of the law.

A national argument over morality will never be won; it will, however, divide our great nation and weaken our people who face adversity.  I don’t want to engage in dialogue over who’s right on stem cell research.  Companies who can afford to do the research should do so.  I can make a choice when it comes to participating in that research and in the finished product.  In the meantime, I don’t want tax dollars funding something wrought from moral division. It forces a person into supporting that which he never would on his own.  That is not the role of government.  My ideals are between God and me.  It is counterproductive to use these ideals to garner votes.

The most clear cut issue here is that of gay marriage.  Should the government be involved in determining family values?  Could marriage be a sacred union performed in front of the Lord by a representative of the church while the government tends to the mess of who gets on whose health insurance and who’s visiting whom in the hospital?  It seems that if an issue is morally devisive, the government has no place in it.  Let God have marriage.  Let God’s people feed the starving.  Let God’s people act as a moral barometer.  Let the government protect us corporately as we act personally.

29
Aug
08

Relative Evil

Here we are on the verge of history.  Actually, we are knee-deep in history.  This year, we have seen a woman and a black man fight bitterly over the presidency, then unite in an unprecedented subversion of the electoral process.  I find it discouraging that Hillary Clinton is not the nominee.  I am not a fan of hers, but her competence, professionalism, shrewdness, and commitment are unmatched.  As president, I don’t believe she would disappoint.  She is the most formidable candidate I have seen in years.  And yet…It’s exciting to see a minority running for this esteemed office, but I cannot believe in his leadership. 

His running mate, though, Joe Biden, is an interesting study.  He has shown perserverence, faith, grace, and strength – the qualities that make Americans so great.  He has a genuine affection for people that cannot be discredited, BUT, he is an ultra-liberal.  So many liberals are disingenuous and I don’t believe that he is.  He has lived it…he is the real deal.  Liberals have a lovely viewpoint.  I admire their forgiving spirits, their largesse.  The problem with a liberal in a high-ranking office, then, is this:  They emerge from an ideal of moral relativism.  Their ideology comes from a place where there is no wrong and right, just my way and yours.  Unfortunately, we live in a world where there is true evil.  Evil that I don’t believe we Americans fully comprehend.  Except for a few isolated incidents, we have been sheltered by miles of ocean from evil despots, dictators, and czars.  We do not fully grasp the intent or the ability of such rulers and we need a leader who is considerate of this.  Considerate of the evil that lurks in the shadows, purchasing black-market bombs, packing shrapnel into a pipe bomb before he takes it to a mall, and turning orphanges into weapons factories. 

We Americans are so blessed, we can luxuriate in the idea that everyone is reasonable.  The fact is, some people live in desperation.  They do unspeakable things that we say are unrealistic, but how many of us have been desperate?  How many of us have made a choice to sell one child into slavery so the others may eat?  Evil erodes morality; it changes our vision.  And evil’s greatest threat comes from our inability – or unwillingness – to believe in it.




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