Dark Knight thoughts

If you haven’t seen the movie, and don’t want any hints of what happens, don’t read any further.

I saw the movie yesterday with my two oldest children. Here are a few thoughts:

  • At the end, Batman was reckoned a sinner so that the people of Gotham City could be delivered from crime. Joker had tried to show that even the best of the best would become evil in the right (wrong?) situation. Batman decided that Joker couldn’t be seen by the people to win that argument (though to a certain degree, Joker did win the argument: Harvey Dent did go bad). To defeat Joker, Batman bore Harvey Dent’s sin – but only a very few were allowed in on the secret. Jesus bore the sin of many, and did so without compromising on the truth. There was no need to maintain an illusion of the goodness of the people for whom Jesus died. It was pure grace. “Ah, but what about the common attribution of sinlessness?” Batman (falsely) wanted to see a kind of sinlessness attributed to Harvey Dent (how much of this was to cover for his own – as Bruce Wayne – over-reliance on Harvey Dent, on his own will to believe?). I see two things in Jesus’ sinlessness that help us more than Harvey Dent’s. First, Jesus’ sinlessness was in the context of non-violent, non-reactive suffering. He, like Harvey Dent, was truly tempted. He, unlike Harvey Dent, said NO to temptation. Second, as one who was tempted like we are – whether we’re the morally upstanding Harvey Dent’s or the gangster Maronys – Jesus understands our temptations, even our giving in to them, and still extends us mercy.
  • Joker saw his larger role as fomenting chaos. Chaos in the Dark Knight is seen as evil. Batman, though operating outside the bounds of order, seeks to prop up order. Is the order good? Well, not exactly. The order – pre-Batman, at least – included organized crime and its depredations on Gotham City. When we see Batman seeking to eliminate the evil in the order, we seem to be moving beyond a simple Manichean order of good and evil in constant warfare. If chaos is a kind of anti-order, perhaps even a prelude to a new order, then Batman himself is an agent of chaos. Joker seems altogether different, however. He seems in favor of no order, no predictability, no security. Jesus brought chaos – I think of his cleansing of the temple – but never served as the agent of chaos like Joker. Jesus was not for Order – just any kind of social stability – he was for the Kingdom of God and its ordering.
  • Joker is a kind of satan, some only to “kill, steal and destroy.” He lives as the accuser, the liar, the one who seeks to “help” others stray from the path.
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One Response to Dark Knight thoughts

  1. Kevin Anderson says:

    Not sure how I stumbled onto your site, but I wanted to talk a bit about Dark Knight and it’s relation to how I sometimes feel as a father. I absolutely loved the concepts discussed in Spiderman, and I’m seeing Batman in a similar vein.

    Batman’s choice to leave people thinking something that is incorrect, but leaves them at piece “because he can take it” is directly in line with our call as husbands and fathers. Where batman will be hunted, and will live life in hiding, he does that because it’s the best thing for the rest of the populace. Admittedly, that is his choice rather than theirs, and they may choose differently if they knew all of the facts, we as parents and husbands are often called to make decisions without the benefit of God’s full knowledge.

    Therefore, we make decisions about where we live, or if we should pay for option trips to Europe or whatever with the childs school. When we say no, we are the bad guy, mostly because the child cannot understand the full picture (such as the outcome of continuing with the same circle of friends or their ability to manage money if “please daddy” mean’s they get whatever they want).

    Perhaps most awkwardly, the biological parent who abandoned his children (and wife). Rather than giving children (or adults, as I don’t anticipate discussing this honestly with them when they are older as there is little “good” that can come of it.) the truth, I’ll suck up my pride, and encourage our girls to bond with him. I’ll hear “he’s a better dad than you” or “why can’t you be more like him”. Because when you only make time for them 2 or 3 days a year, it’s pretty easy to be “the fun one”. I’ll do it because I CAN take it. And because it’s better for the girls to feel loved than to hear that they were inconvenient and rejected.

    I can identify with Batman. This isn’t an easy decision, but it’s the best for the people. It’s nice to see the star of a movie act in a way that is completely selfless. Yes, he has Bruce Wayne as an escape. But imagine if just once in a while, people acted in the way that they felt would be best for OTHERS rather than for them. How would that impact society.

    This is giving up the close parking spot.
    Standing on the bus so another can sit simply because you can.
    Mowing someone’s lawn while they are away without being asked.
    Paying employees to show up at Habitat for Humanity rather than working, even if just for a day.
    Dropping a few dollars into an expiring parking meter.

    Our small acts make as much of a difference to an individual as Batman’s larger acts make to Gotham. The difference is, our small, personal acts ring with people for much longer than an esoteric act of selflessness as shown in a movie.

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