Abraham and the League of Shadows

For those who know my views on film and theology, this is not something that I normally do.

I’m not against selecting a clip from a film that helps to illustrate the point I want to make. It’s just when most youth workers (in my experience) do this, they don’t hold the rest of the film up. It becomes an act of cherry picking wherein you pick the parts of the film that match your beliefs and reject those bits that don’t. This is not good practice and if we try not to do this with the Bible, then we also should not do it with film.

An example of this was the surge in talks using clips from the matrix many years ago. Now, there are good scenes in the matrix but what of the rest of the film? What of the meta-narrative of bondage and S&M? Those parts must also be allowed to speak.

Films must be held up in their entirety.

So, with that out of the way, let’s delve in.

Batman Begins (2005)

I’m aware that this film came out six years ago but it was only after watching it again a couple of nights ago that, the above scene struck me.

Batman chooses to stand up for Gotham. He stands inbetween Gotham and the League of Shadows. In some way, he intercedes for them. He fights for those people. Now, we have to be aware what kind of man Batman is. He is a psychologically disturbed vigilante and at no point are we condoning the actions that he takes (although we probably secretly cheer him).

The scene reminds me of the conversation Abraham has with God in Genesis 18:

 20 Then the LORD said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous 21 that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”

 22 The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the LORD.[a] 23 Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare[b] the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

 26 The LORD said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

 27 Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, 28 what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?”

   “If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.”

 29 Once again he spoke to him, “What if only forty are found there?”

   He said, “For the sake of forty, I will not do it.”

 30 Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?”

   He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”

 31 Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?”

   He said, “For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.”

 32 Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?”

   He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”

 33 When the LORD had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home.

There is something similar going on here with the scene from Batman Begins.

Earlier on in Genesis 11, we find the myth of God destroying the Tower of Babel because of the arrogance and slavery that he sees. The League of Shadows are doing the same thing. When the people of a city have gotten too proud, too arrogant, when they have lost what it means to be just, they come and raise the city to the ground in order that it may be rebuilt.

Where Abraham succeeds, is to convince God to hold of its destruction if he finds a number of righteous people.

For our young people, are they willing to stand up for their community, their town? Are they willing to intercede on its behalf?

Batman risks his life to save ‘his’ people. Would our young people do the same?

What would it mean for them to stand up for their community? What would that look like?

Let’s have that discussion with our young people.

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2 responses

  1. Hmm, interesting, but isn’t Bruce Wayne an economic tycoon who can only ingratiate himself with the batman myth because of the millions he makes from a capitalist empire. I quite liked Rollins’ take on Batman Christianity when he preached at MHBC recently. And then let’s not ignore the myth of redemptive violence all through. I think our intercession would be effective if it were Christlike, rather than on a hero of the empire. I would like to hear young people’s views on what Christlikeness looks like in the effort to ‘stand up’ (which means?) in/for/against our community.

    1. Yeah I do agree with what you’re saying and that is why I said we cannot take the clip on its own and we must be aware of his methods and how he pays for those methods. I’m deeply against cherry picking clips and forgetting the narratives that permeate the rest of the film.

      there is maybe an interesting discussion with how we use our money to ‘stand up’ for justice and how our finances could be used in a non-violent way. financially supporting a particular cause for example.

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