WARNING: IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED THE MOVIE YET WHAT YOU READ MIGHT SPOIL SOME OF IT.
We watched the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight today. I have three thoughts on the movie. First, my wife pointed out, rather insightfully, the way Batman is a Christ figure in the way he sacrifices and takes the blame for something he did not do in order for the good of those he seeks to serve. That would have been a noble thing to do but the way it came about and the statements that showed the rationale behind the supposed “heroism” really showed the skewed vision of virtue that is popular in this culture.
Which leads to my second and third points: I observed pragmatism and virtue of faith in and of itself. Batman had two lines at the end that were rather striking. First he said, “Sometimes the truth is not good enough.” Then he said, “Sometimes people need to have their faith rewarded” (even if it meant, as in the case of the circumstance in this particular scene in the movie, faith in a lie). In saying that truth is not good enough in the situation and that the lie will better serve Gotham city reveals that for Batman and the movie writers, what’s best and good and virtuous is not always the truth. Sometimes lying is best. This presupposes that truth is not always virtuous. It also presupposes that sometimes we can make a better call on how to handle a situation then doing what is consistent with the truth. Christians must not make decisions or celebrate decisions based on pragmatism over against truth.
Thirdly, Batman wants to reward the faith of the city in good by putting forth a man who was not good but was thought of by the city as someone good. Batman wanted their faith in good through this man to live on, even though it is a lie. I hear echoes of thinking: it’s good to have faith in what people think is good, even if it is not true. That is not the kind of faith God commends and commands in the Bible. He commands faith in the truth, faith in what he has revealed, not faith in positive thoughts or good sentiments that are not true. The world thinks your faith is good if it does good by their perception (pragmatism). The Bible says that faith is worthless if the object of that faith is untrue. The good that one thinks and sees coming from such deluded faith will at best be short-lived and weak, and at worst cause further despair and discouragement quickly when realizing it cannot deliver the good one foresaw.
All in all, I think it was my favorite movie of the summer, but I say that with an awareness that what it was trying to get me to boast in and be inspired by had some good and some bad, which on the whole is bad if one does not discern at which points it goes wrong. The action was good and the Joker was a great villain. I enjoyed watching this one and look forward to seeing it again on DVD.