The ending, although I did enjoy it, felt a little too compromised and it is this that I want to focus on so if you haven’t seen the film, and want to see it, best to stop reading now.
I personally believe the film should have ended with the freeze frame kiss. At this point, Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) has acted selflessly. He has reconciled with his father, given the criminal a form of justice, and allowed the last few moments of the commuters lives to be one of happiness.
It then becomes clear than Stevens actions have created another universe, one where the bomb does not go off and everyone survives (apart from the guy who he ‘possessed’ but lets not dwell on that ethical dilemma in this post).
He gets the girl.
Thus everything he’s done has been justified. He gets the reward.
There lies my problem with the film.
The philosopher (I’m not sure he’d like that title but he’s getting it) Peter Rollins recites this parable in his book, “the orthodox heretic”:
“You sit in silence contemplating what has just taken place. Only moments ago you were alive and well, relaxing at home with friends. Then there was a deep, crushing pain in your chest that brought you crashing to the floor. The pain has now gone, but you are no longer in your home. Instead, you find yourself standing on the other side of death waiting to stand before the judgment seat and discover where you will spend eternity. As you reflect upon your life your name is called, and you are led down a long corridor into a majestic sanctuary with a throne located in its center. Sitting on this throne is a huge, breathtaking being who looks up at you and begins to speak.
“My name is Lucifer, and I am the angel of light.”
You are immediately filled with fear and trembling as you realize that you are face to face with the enemy of all that is true and good. Then the angel continues: “I have cast God down from his throne and banished Christ to the realm of eternal death. It is I who hold the keys to the kingdom. It is I who am the gatekeeper of paradise, and it is for me alone to decide who shall enter eternal joy and who shall be forsaken.”
After saying these words, he sits up and stretches out his vast arms. “In my right hand I hold eternal life and in my left hand eternal death. Those who would bow down and acknowledge me as their god shall pass through the gates of paradise and experience an eternity of bliss, but all those who refuse will be vanquished to the second death with their Christ.”
After a long pause he bends toward you and speaks, “Which will you choose?”
I believe Stevens actions in the film would have been more noble if his life had ended with the kiss.
Where he didn’t get the reward.
I find the same with Christianity.
I’ve enjoyed it and think it’s not too bad a resource. But I do have issues with it and its connected with this idea of rewards.
The underlying message of the series is become a Christian so you go to Heaven rather than Hell.
Become a Christian so you get the reward.
Is that how the gospel should be packaged?
Yes, eternal life is important but salvation is bigger than that. Salvation is not static.
It is not just a once and for all ‘ticket’ into Heaven.
We are saved to be a blessing. We are saved to be salt and light.
If Christianity is ‘sold’ as a rewards based faith then we get into all sorts of trouble further down the line.
How do you communicate the christian faith to your young people?
Is it about stepping into partnership with the Creator God through the risen Christ to redeem this world and live as if we already had eternal life or is it simply about getting your ticket to the rewards?
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I watched this film the other day. Now, I’m sure some of you may say,
“why are you watching filth like that?”
“you should be ashamed of yourself”
and I’d understand those comments but for the purpose of the blog, please go with me on this.
The idea in the film is not a new one. The concept of vengeance is as old as time.
In order for resolution, those who abuse you must be abused themselves.
For salvation to come, blood must be shed.
Hollywood is full of films about the good guy killing the bad guy to bring resolution.
Revenge is a dish best served to keep us believing that the only way to deal with conflict is to fight back.
But Jesus offers another option.
Next week, our Youth Fellowship group are leading the evening service. We are going to be summarising the beatitudes as this is what we have spent the greater part of four months looking at.
Jesus calls his followers to be meek. To stand up for injustice. Not to retaliate with violence or to ignore it, but to face it head on.
In essence, Jesus calls us to choose the ‘Third Way“. A way of non-violence. A way of true justice.
It may costs us our face, our dignity or even our lives.
But this is the call of Jesus.
It is vital that our young people know this option. Our world tells us that we only have two choices. Fight or Flight.
But that’s a fallacy!
Jesus chose to walk the Third Way. To stand up against oppressive regimes. And it cost him his life.
Rather than believing that salvation comes through the shedding of the enemies blood (pax romana) Jesus believed that true salvation came from the shedding of his own blood. True salvation comes through self sacrifice.
This blows the myth of redemptive violence out of the water. We don’t need to let this worldview shape our lives anymore.
How often do you hear,
“wait till they see what I’m going to do to them”.
How often do we bad mouth those who we don’t like?
“wait to you hear what they did”.
In the final seconds of “I spit on your grave”, after brutally killing her attackers, the woman smiles to herself. She believes she has found salvation.
She may have found momentarily relief but she is not free. She is caught in the cycle of redemptive violence and it will be the death of her.
Not the death of her physically.
But the death of her humanity.
To choose the “Third Way” is to choose not to let someone strip us of our dignity.
To not allow us to be brought down to their level.
To not lose our humanity.