The Dark Knight of the Soul

I finally saw the Batman movie, “Dark Knight.” (I know I’m way behind, just finally getting around to the Summer.) By every measure–character, plot, acting, filmmaking–it was, indeed, a good movie. I need to think more about its theme, though. Was the movie expressing an ideology that is

(a) liberal, showing how terrorism can bring out the worst in both “good guys” and society as a whole (provoking us to torture captives, wiretap the public, and in our fears turn to violence)?

or,

(b) conservative, showing how anarchy lies just below the surface of our society, and that social order must be maintained by force?

or,

(c) nihilistic, that there is no essential difference between anarchy, crime, lawful authority, and lawless vigilantism?

or,

what?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    None of the above. I think it was illustrating how good and evil exist, how easily a good one can fall into evil, and how above all you have to keep fighting for what you know is right. Many more wordless thoughts in my head, but I need to watch it again…

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    None of the above. I think it was illustrating how good and evil exist, how easily a good one can fall into evil, and how above all you have to keep fighting for what you know is right. Many more wordless thoughts in my head, but I need to watch it again…

  • CRB

    I heard a sermon commenting on the movie, in which the preacher pointed out the fact that “nobody wept for the people who were killed; they died and they just moved on to the rest of the story.”
    So, I would have to vote for “c” based on that cogent observation.

  • CRB

    I heard a sermon commenting on the movie, in which the preacher pointed out the fact that “nobody wept for the people who were killed; they died and they just moved on to the rest of the story.”
    So, I would have to vote for “c” based on that cogent observation.

  • FullTime

    I am not really in the mood to dig very deep, so I will just scratch the surface and let others here bring out the psychological spelunking gear.

    The Joker was certainly trying to bring out the nihilism and the belief that there is little difference between himself and Batman. Batman proved him wrong by staying above that line, in reality if not in the view of Gotham’s public.

    Many might say that Harvey Dent/Two face is a figure representative of that very “not much different” theme. However, I see more a theme of what can happen when all love is taken away from a man. Other Batman stories have mainly focused on the pain of losing his face and the feelings of betrayal at Batman for not saving him. I prefer this version where is is mostly the loss of Rachel that pushed Harvey over that line.

    This movie was much less about Bruce Wayne than its predecessor. Too bad. His character is certainly rich in thought provoking material. He was shafted in favor of showing the Joker’s dementia and, as much fun as that turned out to be it is hard to begrudge it.

    I loved the characterizations of Alfred, Lucius, and Gordon. All of those men played a big part in what made this movie really good.

    To rise to the very superficial, I didn’t care for the new Rachel, and it is more of a dislike for Maggie Gyllenhal (sp?) than a knee-jerk “She isn’t Katie” opinion. Even without Katie Holmes I think they could have done a better job casting Rachel.

  • FullTime

    I am not really in the mood to dig very deep, so I will just scratch the surface and let others here bring out the psychological spelunking gear.

    The Joker was certainly trying to bring out the nihilism and the belief that there is little difference between himself and Batman. Batman proved him wrong by staying above that line, in reality if not in the view of Gotham’s public.

    Many might say that Harvey Dent/Two face is a figure representative of that very “not much different” theme. However, I see more a theme of what can happen when all love is taken away from a man. Other Batman stories have mainly focused on the pain of losing his face and the feelings of betrayal at Batman for not saving him. I prefer this version where is is mostly the loss of Rachel that pushed Harvey over that line.

    This movie was much less about Bruce Wayne than its predecessor. Too bad. His character is certainly rich in thought provoking material. He was shafted in favor of showing the Joker’s dementia and, as much fun as that turned out to be it is hard to begrudge it.

    I loved the characterizations of Alfred, Lucius, and Gordon. All of those men played a big part in what made this movie really good.

    To rise to the very superficial, I didn’t care for the new Rachel, and it is more of a dislike for Maggie Gyllenhal (sp?) than a knee-jerk “She isn’t Katie” opinion. Even without Katie Holmes I think they could have done a better job casting Rachel.

  • Nemo

    Um, Theresa, I think you more or less just answered B.

    CRB, did you weep? Few films make me cry, this was an exception.

    To return to the original question, I’m not sure I am seeing a difference in substance (although maybe in emphasis) between options A and B. How does “anarchy [lying] just below the surface of our society” differ from “terrorism [bringing] out the worst in both ‘good guys’ and society as a whole” (other than that option B includes a response, “social order must be maintained by force”)?

    Given the above options, I have to immediately reject option C, especially when taken in context with the first film (which, after watching again, the two work together in some rather amazing ways). These films both explore the concept of a man turning himself into more than just a man, into an idea. What comes to the forefront, then, is the battle between ideas. Ra’s Al Ghul’s idea is that of complete justice, with no mercy. He wants to elevate himself to the level of a god, determining which cities are to survive and which cities are to be destroyed. He claims justice, but does not have the authority to do so, and in the process becomes the very thing he is attempting to destroy. Might there be a glimpse of Christ as mediator when Batman tells Ra’s that he’s right where he needs to be, between Ra’s and the people of Gotham (don’t take this too far, but I think there is an element of foreshadowing here)? Also, it is worth noting, that the first film rejects the eastern spiritualism in favor of a western rule of law.

    The second film ups the ante, so to speak. Rather than battling a man who wants to be god the father, Batman is now faced with a man aspiring to be Satan. This film especially develops the Augustinian notion of evil as a corruptor of good (the Joker needs Batman, but Batman does not need the Joker). In the first film Batman learns to exploit man’s conscience—the fear that is inherent to the criminal (a nod to natural law). Now he is faced with evil that has no conscience. Yet in a surprising twist, to ultimately defeat this evil, he who knew no sin became sin, so that Gotham might be righteous (to paraphrase a familiar passage. See “The Jones” elaboration on this point from a previous discussion http://www.geneveith.com/why-is-the-joker-more-interesting-than-batman/_744/#comment-9604.)

    Ultimately, though, I’m not sure we can fully tell what the message is until we see the third (final?) installment. This film, unlike the first, is not a stand alone story. Good Friday looks nihilistic without Easter Sunday.

  • Nemo

    Um, Theresa, I think you more or less just answered B.

    CRB, did you weep? Few films make me cry, this was an exception.

    To return to the original question, I’m not sure I am seeing a difference in substance (although maybe in emphasis) between options A and B. How does “anarchy [lying] just below the surface of our society” differ from “terrorism [bringing] out the worst in both ‘good guys’ and society as a whole” (other than that option B includes a response, “social order must be maintained by force”)?

    Given the above options, I have to immediately reject option C, especially when taken in context with the first film (which, after watching again, the two work together in some rather amazing ways). These films both explore the concept of a man turning himself into more than just a man, into an idea. What comes to the forefront, then, is the battle between ideas. Ra’s Al Ghul’s idea is that of complete justice, with no mercy. He wants to elevate himself to the level of a god, determining which cities are to survive and which cities are to be destroyed. He claims justice, but does not have the authority to do so, and in the process becomes the very thing he is attempting to destroy. Might there be a glimpse of Christ as mediator when Batman tells Ra’s that he’s right where he needs to be, between Ra’s and the people of Gotham (don’t take this too far, but I think there is an element of foreshadowing here)? Also, it is worth noting, that the first film rejects the eastern spiritualism in favor of a western rule of law.

    The second film ups the ante, so to speak. Rather than battling a man who wants to be god the father, Batman is now faced with a man aspiring to be Satan. This film especially develops the Augustinian notion of evil as a corruptor of good (the Joker needs Batman, but Batman does not need the Joker). In the first film Batman learns to exploit man’s conscience—the fear that is inherent to the criminal (a nod to natural law). Now he is faced with evil that has no conscience. Yet in a surprising twist, to ultimately defeat this evil, he who knew no sin became sin, so that Gotham might be righteous (to paraphrase a familiar passage. See “The Jones” elaboration on this point from a previous discussion http://www.geneveith.com/why-is-the-joker-more-interesting-than-batman/_744/#comment-9604.)

    Ultimately, though, I’m not sure we can fully tell what the message is until we see the third (final?) installment. This film, unlike the first, is not a stand alone story. Good Friday looks nihilistic without Easter Sunday.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Nemo (@4), your ideas are interesting, but I’m going to guess that any apparent references to Biblical truths tell us more about the one inferring rather than the filmmakers’ intents. Hollywood likes to play with shallow spiritual tropes (or shallowly play with deeper truths; cf. the Star Wars and Matrix series), yes, but I think they do so because it resonates with audiences, not to remind us of Biblical truths.

    The more interesting question is why such stories of good and evil, of sin and redemption, of beginning and end, of the one who dies to serve a greater cause — why these do resonate with us. Christians have a very good answer to that. I’m not sure that those who do not believe in God do.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Nemo (@4), your ideas are interesting, but I’m going to guess that any apparent references to Biblical truths tell us more about the one inferring rather than the filmmakers’ intents. Hollywood likes to play with shallow spiritual tropes (or shallowly play with deeper truths; cf. the Star Wars and Matrix series), yes, but I think they do so because it resonates with audiences, not to remind us of Biblical truths.

    The more interesting question is why such stories of good and evil, of sin and redemption, of beginning and end, of the one who dies to serve a greater cause — why these do resonate with us. Christians have a very good answer to that. I’m not sure that those who do not believe in God do.

  • Nemo

    tODD,

    I am not asserting that such imagery is intentional, and apologize if my post appeared that way. Rather, I am looking at the story as told, instead of the story as intended. In their role as “sub-creators”, the Nolans have stumbled on a story that reflects (not perfectly, none will) the greatest story ever lived—namely, the death and resurrection of Christ. That, revealed in the very last few minutes of the film, more than anything else, is what left me in shock. To say I was not expecting it to be portrayed that clearly would be an understatement.

    To address your other questions, I will reference one of my favorite essays on literature, Tolkien’s “On Fairy Stories” (http://api.ning.com/files/HT73XdSKGLcHWzahCdHWeqQ*9Jyi0DpZ4uQ2xBzE-rE_/TolkienOnFairyStories.pdf) [side note: does anyone know how do this as an imbedded link?]

    “The Gospels contain a fairy story, or a story of a larger kind which embraces all the essence of fairy-stories. They contain many marvels—peculiarly artistic, beautiful, and moving: ‘mythical’ in their perfect, self contained significance; and among the marvels is the greatest and most complete conceivable eucatastrophe. But this story has entered History and the primary world; the desire and aspiration of sub-creation has been raised to the fulfillment of Creation. The Birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of Man’s history. The Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation. This story begins and ends in joy. It has pre-eminently the ‘inner consistency of reality.’ There is no tale ever told that men would rather find was true, and none which so many sceptical men have accepted as true on its own merits. For the Art of it has the supremely convincing tone of Primary Art, that is, of Creation. To reject it leads either to sadness or to wrath.”

    “It is not difficult to imagine the peculiar excitement and joy that one would feel, if any specially beautiful fairy-story were found to be ‘primarily’ true, its narrative to be history, without thereby necessarily losing the mythical or allegorical significance that it had possessed. … But this story is supreme; and it is true. Art has been verified. God is the Lord, of angels, and of men—and of elves. Legend and History have met and fused.”

    Such stories are appealing because they are good, because they reflect what is true. The unbeliever may not be able to understand, but may be moved by it nonetheless (Romans 1).

  • Nemo

    tODD,

    I am not asserting that such imagery is intentional, and apologize if my post appeared that way. Rather, I am looking at the story as told, instead of the story as intended. In their role as “sub-creators”, the Nolans have stumbled on a story that reflects (not perfectly, none will) the greatest story ever lived—namely, the death and resurrection of Christ. That, revealed in the very last few minutes of the film, more than anything else, is what left me in shock. To say I was not expecting it to be portrayed that clearly would be an understatement.

    To address your other questions, I will reference one of my favorite essays on literature, Tolkien’s “On Fairy Stories” (http://api.ning.com/files/HT73XdSKGLcHWzahCdHWeqQ*9Jyi0DpZ4uQ2xBzE-rE_/TolkienOnFairyStories.pdf) [side note: does anyone know how do this as an imbedded link?]

    “The Gospels contain a fairy story, or a story of a larger kind which embraces all the essence of fairy-stories. They contain many marvels—peculiarly artistic, beautiful, and moving: ‘mythical’ in their perfect, self contained significance; and among the marvels is the greatest and most complete conceivable eucatastrophe. But this story has entered History and the primary world; the desire and aspiration of sub-creation has been raised to the fulfillment of Creation. The Birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of Man’s history. The Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation. This story begins and ends in joy. It has pre-eminently the ‘inner consistency of reality.’ There is no tale ever told that men would rather find was true, and none which so many sceptical men have accepted as true on its own merits. For the Art of it has the supremely convincing tone of Primary Art, that is, of Creation. To reject it leads either to sadness or to wrath.”

    “It is not difficult to imagine the peculiar excitement and joy that one would feel, if any specially beautiful fairy-story were found to be ‘primarily’ true, its narrative to be history, without thereby necessarily losing the mythical or allegorical significance that it had possessed. … But this story is supreme; and it is true. Art has been verified. God is the Lord, of angels, and of men—and of elves. Legend and History have met and fused.”

    Such stories are appealing because they are good, because they reflect what is true. The unbeliever may not be able to understand, but may be moved by it nonetheless (Romans 1).

  • The Jones

    I hate to toot my own horn, but I wrote a review of the Dark Knight a while back, and here it is. It explains the way I saw the themes of the Dark Knight.

    ******************

    Holy Moley. That’s all I could really get out after watching this one. It was an amazing movie. It was an amazing movie the first, second, and third time i saw it in theaters. And if anybody still hasn’t seen it, tell me and we’ll make it amazing on the forth time, too. This movie is good because it’s good cinema. It’s good storytelling, but most of all, it’s good literature.

    Good literature is hard to come by. You see, there are just plain ol’ STORIES, which merely contain a series of events progressing along to a certain conclusion. It’s a plain ol’ plot. Oftentimes, these stories can have enough explosions, bodacious men, good looking women, and tense situations to be wildly entertaining while watching. Good literature, however, has nothing to do with the STORY (many of the stories in good literature are actually kind of boring). Good literature is constructed so that the fictional progression of events and composition the characters says something very real about life. And it presents this truth so forcefully, gracefully, beautifully, artfully, and/or powerfully, that it is a wonder to behold. And that’s what I like about The Dark Knight. It’s definitely got action and explosions and excitement, but it’s got something more. Let me explain.

    First thing is first. There has been a lot of talk about all the extreme hype behind Heath Ledger’s posthumous return to the screen. I don’t think it’s hyped at all. I think it’s hardly hyped enough. Ledger’s joker is maniacal. He is demonic, sadistic, brutal, and downright scary. He does not want the usual things that criminals want like money or power. Like Alfred says to Bruce Wayne, “Some people just want to watch the world burn.” Every time he is on the screen, I am filled with this terrible feeling in my gut that something horrible is about to happen. This is what makes some people say “This movie is so violent. It’s too much for me.” But I actually like it, because it is the only way you can define who the Joker is supposed to be: Satan. The Joker is the Corrupter of the world. Taking advantage of the sinful nature of Gotham already present (the Mob, in the story), he has started his mission to take all order and goodness and bring it to madness, to burn it to the ground, to make men and women eat each other in the fray and enjoy every minute of it himself.

    There is another character in this movie, Harvey Dent. Dent is the new DA in town and he is cleaning up the city that was almost on its knees in crime and corruption. He’s Gotham’s White Knight, crusading to make the city good once again. He has put nearly the entire mob behind bars, but the weight of the city’s clean up rests on his shoulders and in the end, he fails. Dent becomes the second villain of the movie after he is corrupted, sullied to a ghastly wretch by the anger, loss, pain, and revenge that the Joker gives to him. “Madness is like gravity, it only takes a little push.” And thus, Dent becomes the corrupted, the sinful. His fall from blamelessness has put his entire legacy of a clean Gotham to rest. The game is up, the Joker won. With Harvey now a murderous madman, no one can save the people of Gotham. Harvey represents mankind and the tragedy of its fall.

    And so the movie comes to the fix that we have found in life. The corrupter has come and the game is up. Despite our best efforts Gotham is ruined and cannot be fixed. Enter Batman. This man, who has done no wrong, finds that Harvey’s crimes and his guilt have doomed Gotham to self-destruction and death. Therefore, Batman takes the guilt of Harvey on his own shoulders, accepting the crimes so that Dent can walk blameless and Gotham can be saved. Batman must now pay the price of the death that Harvey wrought. But hey, he’s Batman! He can take it! He’s the only one who can! He’s the superhero of the story, not the one Gotham deserves, but the one it needed.

    And THAT is why The Dark Knight is amazing. It might be the best movie I’ve ever seen, and in large part, that’s because it borrows from the greatest story ever told.

  • The Jones

    I hate to toot my own horn, but I wrote a review of the Dark Knight a while back, and here it is. It explains the way I saw the themes of the Dark Knight.

    ******************

    Holy Moley. That’s all I could really get out after watching this one. It was an amazing movie. It was an amazing movie the first, second, and third time i saw it in theaters. And if anybody still hasn’t seen it, tell me and we’ll make it amazing on the forth time, too. This movie is good because it’s good cinema. It’s good storytelling, but most of all, it’s good literature.

    Good literature is hard to come by. You see, there are just plain ol’ STORIES, which merely contain a series of events progressing along to a certain conclusion. It’s a plain ol’ plot. Oftentimes, these stories can have enough explosions, bodacious men, good looking women, and tense situations to be wildly entertaining while watching. Good literature, however, has nothing to do with the STORY (many of the stories in good literature are actually kind of boring). Good literature is constructed so that the fictional progression of events and composition the characters says something very real about life. And it presents this truth so forcefully, gracefully, beautifully, artfully, and/or powerfully, that it is a wonder to behold. And that’s what I like about The Dark Knight. It’s definitely got action and explosions and excitement, but it’s got something more. Let me explain.

    First thing is first. There has been a lot of talk about all the extreme hype behind Heath Ledger’s posthumous return to the screen. I don’t think it’s hyped at all. I think it’s hardly hyped enough. Ledger’s joker is maniacal. He is demonic, sadistic, brutal, and downright scary. He does not want the usual things that criminals want like money or power. Like Alfred says to Bruce Wayne, “Some people just want to watch the world burn.” Every time he is on the screen, I am filled with this terrible feeling in my gut that something horrible is about to happen. This is what makes some people say “This movie is so violent. It’s too much for me.” But I actually like it, because it is the only way you can define who the Joker is supposed to be: Satan. The Joker is the Corrupter of the world. Taking advantage of the sinful nature of Gotham already present (the Mob, in the story), he has started his mission to take all order and goodness and bring it to madness, to burn it to the ground, to make men and women eat each other in the fray and enjoy every minute of it himself.

    There is another character in this movie, Harvey Dent. Dent is the new DA in town and he is cleaning up the city that was almost on its knees in crime and corruption. He’s Gotham’s White Knight, crusading to make the city good once again. He has put nearly the entire mob behind bars, but the weight of the city’s clean up rests on his shoulders and in the end, he fails. Dent becomes the second villain of the movie after he is corrupted, sullied to a ghastly wretch by the anger, loss, pain, and revenge that the Joker gives to him. “Madness is like gravity, it only takes a little push.” And thus, Dent becomes the corrupted, the sinful. His fall from blamelessness has put his entire legacy of a clean Gotham to rest. The game is up, the Joker won. With Harvey now a murderous madman, no one can save the people of Gotham. Harvey represents mankind and the tragedy of its fall.

    And so the movie comes to the fix that we have found in life. The corrupter has come and the game is up. Despite our best efforts Gotham is ruined and cannot be fixed. Enter Batman. This man, who has done no wrong, finds that Harvey’s crimes and his guilt have doomed Gotham to self-destruction and death. Therefore, Batman takes the guilt of Harvey on his own shoulders, accepting the crimes so that Dent can walk blameless and Gotham can be saved. Batman must now pay the price of the death that Harvey wrought. But hey, he’s Batman! He can take it! He’s the only one who can! He’s the superhero of the story, not the one Gotham deserves, but the one it needed.

    And THAT is why The Dark Knight is amazing. It might be the best movie I’ve ever seen, and in large part, that’s because it borrows from the greatest story ever told.

  • CRB

    The Jones,
    Do you (or anyone on this list) know who wrote the story and whether or not the writer has any leanings in that direction you’re talking about?

  • CRB

    The Jones,
    Do you (or anyone on this list) know who wrote the story and whether or not the writer has any leanings in that direction you’re talking about?

  • Nemo

    CRB,

    It was written by the brothers Christopher and Jonathan Nolan. As for their intent, I’m sure they wanted it to be a good story (what writer doesn’t?). There is, however, no indication that they intended it to be a “Christian” story.

    Truth, however, is not relative. Insofar as any story reflects what is ultimately true, it will reflect something of the redemption story—regardless of whether the writers intend it that way or not.

  • Nemo

    CRB,

    It was written by the brothers Christopher and Jonathan Nolan. As for their intent, I’m sure they wanted it to be a good story (what writer doesn’t?). There is, however, no indication that they intended it to be a “Christian” story.

    Truth, however, is not relative. Insofar as any story reflects what is ultimately true, it will reflect something of the redemption story—regardless of whether the writers intend it that way or not.

  • Anon The First

    Vigilantism isn’t always lawless. On the frontier, there was no established government, so it reverted to the People who had delegated it to the civil servants in the first place.

    Our very system is based upon the idea that it is the armed populace who will ‘guard the guardians’. To make sure nobody got confused on this, in spite of the articles in the Federalist and the Antifederalist, they put the 2nd Amendment in the Constitution. The hue and cry – the calling of that armed populace to be deputized and serve the shire reeve in pursuing a criminal is part of our ancient legal tradition.

    Statism – State Totalism – the State as god, doesn’t like that, and prefers to call that lawless. That is why the first gun control law in this country was in the territory of the former CSA, banning blacks from owning firearms. It is why one of Hitlers first acts when he received the tribunician power was to enact a gun control law.

    Let us not forget that vigilantism isn’t necessarily lawless (intrinsically) though it can be (extrinsically).

  • Anon The First

    Vigilantism isn’t always lawless. On the frontier, there was no established government, so it reverted to the People who had delegated it to the civil servants in the first place.

    Our very system is based upon the idea that it is the armed populace who will ‘guard the guardians’. To make sure nobody got confused on this, in spite of the articles in the Federalist and the Antifederalist, they put the 2nd Amendment in the Constitution. The hue and cry – the calling of that armed populace to be deputized and serve the shire reeve in pursuing a criminal is part of our ancient legal tradition.

    Statism – State Totalism – the State as god, doesn’t like that, and prefers to call that lawless. That is why the first gun control law in this country was in the territory of the former CSA, banning blacks from owning firearms. It is why one of Hitlers first acts when he received the tribunician power was to enact a gun control law.

    Let us not forget that vigilantism isn’t necessarily lawless (intrinsically) though it can be (extrinsically).

  • CRB

    Nemo, thanks! I’m still staying with my “C” choice.

  • CRB

    Nemo, thanks! I’m still staying with my “C” choice.

  • Eric R.

    My vote is C but with a touch of the unmentioned D. Vicariousness as a way of life.

    This is displayed in Dent’s fall and Batman’s willingness to take upon himself all of Dent’s guilt. It’s not a perfect metaphor, but it speaks to the “irrational” nature of Christ’s actions on our behalf. His ways are not our ways, and He does what He does if for no other reason than that he wants to.

    In Freudian terms, the Joker is 100% Id. He’s a sociopath, a nihilist, and absolutely brilliant. “Do I really look like a guy with a plan? Y’know what I am? I’m a dog chasing cars. I wouldn’t know what to do with one if I caught it!…. Y’know what I’ve noticed? Nobody panics when everything goes ‘according to plan,’ even if the plan is horrifying. If I were to to go to the press tomorrow and tell them that, like, some gang-banger was going to get shot or a truckload of soldiers would be blown up, nobody panics. It’s all ‘part of the plan.’ But when I say that one li’l ol’ mayer is going to die… Everyone loses their minds!”

    Civility is a convention, and a brutal one at that. Christ buys us from the death and void of our own sin, a void that Modernism cannot admit to if it is to maintain a stranglehold on our universities and sciences. This movie just finally shows everybody that we can’t count on “human goodness” to save us anymore.

    This is bleak, to be sure, but nihilism is that way. And if you’re leaning on anything other than Christ, you’re leaning on a very shaky foundation.

    My rambling 3 1/2 cents…

  • Eric R.

    My vote is C but with a touch of the unmentioned D. Vicariousness as a way of life.

    This is displayed in Dent’s fall and Batman’s willingness to take upon himself all of Dent’s guilt. It’s not a perfect metaphor, but it speaks to the “irrational” nature of Christ’s actions on our behalf. His ways are not our ways, and He does what He does if for no other reason than that he wants to.

    In Freudian terms, the Joker is 100% Id. He’s a sociopath, a nihilist, and absolutely brilliant. “Do I really look like a guy with a plan? Y’know what I am? I’m a dog chasing cars. I wouldn’t know what to do with one if I caught it!…. Y’know what I’ve noticed? Nobody panics when everything goes ‘according to plan,’ even if the plan is horrifying. If I were to to go to the press tomorrow and tell them that, like, some gang-banger was going to get shot or a truckload of soldiers would be blown up, nobody panics. It’s all ‘part of the plan.’ But when I say that one li’l ol’ mayer is going to die… Everyone loses their minds!”

    Civility is a convention, and a brutal one at that. Christ buys us from the death and void of our own sin, a void that Modernism cannot admit to if it is to maintain a stranglehold on our universities and sciences. This movie just finally shows everybody that we can’t count on “human goodness” to save us anymore.

    This is bleak, to be sure, but nihilism is that way. And if you’re leaning on anything other than Christ, you’re leaning on a very shaky foundation.

    My rambling 3 1/2 cents…


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