I read thrillers for entertainment. I like reading them, but I don’t like that I read them. I’m watching ’24’ for entertainment. I enjoy watching it, but I don’t like that I watch it.
The hero stands up for ordinary people, for freedom, for security. But the hero uses exactly the same means as the villain in order to bring the freedom and the security. Robert Crais writes thrillers that feature two such heroes: Elvis Cole (private detective) and Joe Pike (ex marine, ex L.A. police officer, killer). They are on the side of the good. But they use the same methods as the ‘evil’ criminals and terrorists whom they oppose.
Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) in ’24’ does the same job. He’s intrinsically a nice guy. You trust him. But he is willing to torture and kill in order to expose the oppressor and the terrorist. However, in series 7, I’m not sure what 24 is saying, because there are now voices that are challenging Jack’s methods. An anti Jack Bauer US senator (unsympathetic character) and President Taylor’s Chief of Staff both express their disdain for his methods. Even Bill Buchanan, Jack’s ex colleague from CTU (the counter terrorist unit) baulks at torture.
Are we meant to go along with Jack in the end ? And am I still going to watch ’24’ and read Robert Crais, knowing that they shape the way we think about how to deal with evil. Knowing that they perpetuate the myth that ‘good men’ can use violence to defeat evil ?
A quote from Ched Myers – “As René Girard and his followers have long argued, the myth of redemptive violence empowers not redemption, but only more violence”
Perhaps the most chilling example of this in recent years has been the whole Iraq thing; the invasion, the subsequent violence, both anti the West and sectarian between Shiite and Sunni; Guantanamo …
Going back now (here it comes!) to the cross and the atonement theory of Penal Substitution. I fear that this is just another face of redemptive violence. The idea that punishing Jesus (who although innocent, actually stands for the guilty) achieves anything.
If we see God punishing the innocent Jesus, we’re back to cosmic child abuse (see earlier post).
If we see God punishing the guilty through Jesus, we’re accepting that violence is an acceptable way to deal with evil. (Which it isn’t)
As long as Christians hold on to this theory of the cross, any commitment to non violence will be contradictory and empty.
And, conversely, as long as Christians support the methods of redemptive violence in the world’s affairs, it will be impossible to regain a true understanding of the cross.