The Theology of The Dark Knight Rises

Well, my family and I finally got around to seeing The Dark Knight Rises.

Some theological thoughts on the movie.

(Some spoilers ahead.)

There's been a lot of discussion on the Internet about the politics of The Dark Knight Rises with many arguing that TDKR espouses a conservative politics with a repudiation of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

The evidence for this line of argument has to do with the actions and speeches of Bane, the antagonist of the movie. For example, one of Bane's early targets in the movie is the Wall Street trading floor (or whatever Wall Street is in Gotham). In addition, Bane uses class warfare as warrant for his actions, actions that espouse a populist, anarchist vision of society.

It is true that TDKR has a fairly positive view of social institutions and the order they provide. For example, the Gotham police force are cast as heroes and protectors of law and order. We also long for a judiciary with integrity after witnessing the actions of "the people's court" under Bane (the Scarecrow is back as judge!). In this sense--a high view of social institutions--TDKR has a conservative sensibility.

That said, I don't think TDKR is a repudiation of the concerns of the 99%. Bane isn't extolling class resentment, he's exploiting it. Cynically so.

It seems clear to me that TDKR sees economic inequality as a problem. Catwoman, a sympathetic figure, sees it this way. Where she parts with Bane and begins to side with Batman isn't in the diagnosis of the problem but in how the two propose to address the problem.

To be sure, Bruce Wayne our hero is a billionaire, a part of the 1%. But he's repeatedly described as a "philanthropist." We also find him acting in very non-capitalistic ways. We learn that he's actually damaged his company by refusing to pursue technology that would be globally dangerous. We learn about his interest in investing in clean, sustainable energy. And at the end of the movie he gives Wayne Manor for the care of orphans.

The point being that Wayne has a strong social and global ethic guiding how he handles his wealth, and he seems more than willing to make financial sacrifices to promote the common good. All that looks sort of "liberal." And that seems to be the ruling ethic of the movie. Wayne gives everything he has to save the city. Toward the end of the movie Catwoman asks Batman why he keeps giving to Gotham. Hasn't he already given them everything? His response is that he has one last thing to give. His life. And he goes on to give it away so that Gotham might be saved. In this, he's a sort of Christ figure.

TDKR is liberal in another sense as well--its view of humanity. Throughout the Dark Knight trilogy there is a running debate about human nature. The trilogy starts with the dim view of humanity offered by the League of Shadows and Ra's al Ghul. This is the view that humanity--epitomized in the life and ways Gotham, a sort of Babylon--is depraved and beyond redemption. That view is continued in the second movie with the Joker, who cynically wants to demonstrate this to Batman by getting two ferrys of Gotham citizens to blow each other up. In the final movie Bane brings us back to the League of Shadows as the views of Ra's al Ghul make a return.

In response TDKR articulates a more positive view of humanity. In the first movie Batman rejects the anthropology of Ra's al Ghul. In the second movie the people of Gotham refute the Joker--they don't blow each other up. In TDKR the themes are about collective hope and social trust. In short, the optimistic view of humanity espoused by liberalism is on display. The more pessimistic view of humanity espoused by conservatism is rejected.

But not completely. Again, when "the people" are left on their own in Bane's anarchical experiment the outcome isn't pleasant. Under Bane we long for social order and stable social institutions. These are conservative themes and values. So in my opinion, the series is a bit of a mixed bag on this score. The trilogy is a mix of both liberal and conservative themes--politically, economically, and anthropologically.

In the end, though, I think the final film isn't about about liberalism or conservatism. I think the film is about love. That might be a bit too sentimental, but I think it's a defensible point. At the end of the day, Wayne loves Gotham and is willing to give her everything. I think that's the main theme of the movie, love and the sacrifices love requires. In a similar way, Alfred loves Bruce and is willing to risk everything, even their relationship, in order to save Bruce.

Other love themes are also present. When Catwoman and Batman are fighting together he says, "no killing." We see (Robin) John Blake, who will become the next Batman, kill two men in the movie. Disgust overwhelms him. We see in his face how he will adopt the "no killing" ethic in taking up the mantle of Batman. We also see Blake willing to sacrifice his life for a group of orphans. And as mentioned above, in the end Bruce Wayne gives Wayne Manor for the care of orphans. True and undefiled religion.

And in giving it all away we see a sort of death and resurrection played out in the movie. Batman gives everything to Gotham and he finds a sort of resurrection on the other side. Batman dies so that Bruce Wayne and Gotham might live.

At the end of the movie we see a statue of Batman unveiled in Gotham. A symbol of the soul and spirituality of a city reborn, a people rescued from chaos and death. A sign of one who gave his life so that others might live.

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33 thoughts on “The Theology of The Dark Knight Rises”

  1. I've yet to see the movie, but I continue to see this theme in recent movies. One of my favorites has been Thor who finds redemption for all in his willingness to die for them. I'll go see the movie. Thanks for putting this together.

  2. Batman is my least favorite superhero.  So violent.  (He needed serious therapy, and/or Jesus, if you ask me.)  In the character development of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, I did not like the reasons behind Batman's heroism.  Basically anger and vengeance, mixed in with a healthy dose of guilt, shame, and fear (over his father's murder).  Or is it just me?  Especially in TDK, I felt the line between Joker and Batman was very thin.  The director portrayed that quite clearly, imho.  The Myth of Redemptive Violence?  Or, violence is better than apathy and total withdrawal, as a last resort?  Which is it?

    The question I would have, I guess, is this:  In the make-believe world of Gotham, *was* violence the only option in achieving justice?  With a psycho like Joker, and then Bane, on the loose, are the heroics of Batman the only hope of deliverance and salvation?  It's the quick and dirty way, for sure.

    I watched Batman Begins and The Dark Knight at home, grudgingly -- at my kids' request -- because they both wanted to be taken to see TDKR.  I hated TDK so much that I had no desire to see TDKR.  My husband took our son to the theater to see the movie.  My daughter went with a group of her friends.  Win-win for me.  :-)

    My daughter is pretty sensitive and astute, and when I asked her about the ending, this was her take on it:

    Batman quit the superhero business, but really he was so used up and broken, literally, that he could not, physically, have gone on even if he'd had the will to do it.  My daughter felt sad and a bit incensed that instead of letting the whole thing die altogether, Batman passed the gauntlet off onto some other poor fool.  I said, well, that's a sure sign of a sequel.  She said no, the producer has adamantly insisted that there will be no more Batman movies...

    Have you seen The Amazing Spider-Man yet?  Spider-Man is my favorite superhero.  As far as superheroes go, I think he's got it going on.  "With great power comes great responsibility."  Preach it, Spidey!  But again, I found the ending of TASM to be incredibly sad.  I won't tell it here, and spoil it for others who haven't seen the movie yet.

    I can't help adding that the entire time I was reading this post, Tina Turner, singing "We don't need another (violent) hero," was running through my mind.  ~Peace~

  3. This is a very interesting post, and reflects some of what I was thinking when I watched the movie last night. 

    To me, the hero of the movie (and the series) is Alfred. I'm not convinced that Wayne/Batman's love of humanity is really there until the end. Both Wayne and Batman are lone-wolf operators. They are unaccountable, they don't have a network of friends who keep them in check. Both, I think, show a profound lack of faith in humanity, and this is behind Wayne's squirrelling away of his technology and Batman's lack of a network (beyond Fox, who is just like him, and Alfred, who is his only real check and balance). 

    Alfred does not want Batman back; he wants Bruce Wayne to take nuclear fusion to the world as a source of clean energy and reform Wayne Enterprises as a socially conscious business. But Wayne (and Fox) trust no one, and they keep all the technology 'off the books' and hidden away. And it's precisely that no one knows about all this stuff which makes it such a boon to the bad guys. 

    Batman/ Wayne's failure to build a network, friends who can challenge him and participate in decision making with him means that the negative system of Gotham is always maintained. It is a system which inevitably leads to the necessity of Batman's return, because only this one man has the knowledge, technology and wealth to effect change. Batman maintains the status quo and, in so doing, safeguards (unintentionally) his own necessity. 

    Alfred is the only person who understands this negative feedback loop. There is a scene early on when Batman is tracing the Catwoman. Batman says something to Alfred like 'only I have the resources to track her down'. Alfred replies 'Well, so would the police if you shared it with them'. 

    By the end of the movie, Batman has laid some foundations toward a system which can survive without him. This is what Alfred wanted. 

  4.  On reflection, I agree. Alfred's love of Bruce really is the heart and soul of the movie.

  5. I'm a fan of Spiderman as well. The appeal of Batman, I think, particularly for a psychologist, is his inner life. He's the most psychologically complex comic book character out there.

    As for violence, yes, the movies are violent. But Batman himself doesn't use guns and doesn't kill. There is a certain care here for his enemies. Though he is no pacifist. Which make him, I think, and interesting point of reflection for Christians.

  6. O:K.  Fascinating psychologically, yes.  But a type of Christ?  No.  Sorry.

    Christ used his truthful words to express dissent and work for justice.

    He stood *with* the oppressed, marginalized, and so-called "sinners" of society...

    Without resorting to violence against those who were the perps of violence (e.g., Roman empire and Jewish religious leaders).

    Batman doesn't kill?  Are you serious?  I guess if you're not counting the "collateral" damage in all of those violent clashes between Joker and Batman -- which, I take it you are saying, are in no way Batman's fault?

    How does Batman care for his enemies?  Give me an example.  I did not see TDKR, only the precursors.

    I frankly find Spider-Man to be a complex enough superhero character.  He didn't choose it (bitten); he wrestled with his own dark side.  I think Spider-Man cared for his enemies, and wished for their healing and redemption.

    The fact is, any superhero worth his salt will by necessity be a loner.  Those close to a superhero tend to become targets of the villains.  If said superhero cares at all for his friends, he will maintain a distance for their own good.  What a terrible burden to carry.

    I found this, fwiw:

    "...We must look into the dark night of our collective soul to contemplate the heroes we need... and the villains we deserve..."

    All very entertaining and interesting, but please, Lord help me, let's keep our heads and stay grounded about the issues of injustice and what we can rightly do to respond to it.  ~Peace~  (Remember?)

  7.  Well, good points both of you, but I believe I will side with Richard here. You can, through a particular action, be considered a type of Christ because of that singular action, without being anything like Christ for the balance of the time.

  8.  How does Batman care for his enemies?  Give me an example.

    Goodness, that's easy. Start here:

    You'll note, right around the 1:50 mark that Batman saves the Joker's life. Care for enemies.

  9. That's the best you've got?  Sorry, still not convinced.  At the risk of being argumentative and giving away my peace...

    Why did Batman save Joker?  As Joker pointed out in the jailhouse scene, they needed each other (for one thing).  Self-righteous act on Batman's part?  His self-imposed penance for not saving his father from being murdered?  Batman needs help. Gotham needs help.  But violent retribution is not the answer.

    Sacrificial love vs. sacrificial violence.  (I think I got that from Ted Grimsrud's Peace Theology site.  You should look at it.  It has been helping me.)

    I very well understand what a type of Christ is.  A person whose ethic of love and sacrifice typifies Christ.  Did I say anything about "Christian?"  If you do not like the term Christian, I won't disagree with you or defend the title.  "Christian" means many things to many people.  I suppose if you really want to play hardball in this dialogue, you could bring up the issue of Christians and others misunderstanding the Person of Christ.

    He lived peacefully.  He loved all.  He died a violent death.  Is the violence, dying, and death the thing that we should be glorifying and holding up as central to our theology?

    I thought it was the sacrificial love and resurrection power.

    Personally, I do not need another hero (thank you, Tina Turner).  I need people around me who are committed to peace, who will be examples and partners in peace.  If I am faced with a Joker or two, I would not want a Batman to zoom up in his Batmobile to avenge my honor.  I just want a few peace-loving friends who will come alongside and be an encouragement.  If I die, I die.  At least I will have done so with my integrity intact.

    I will not inflict my opinions on y'all any further.  Or request the honor of your presence in my personal battles.  ~Peace~

  10. The problem with people who see this is a statement on the OWS movement is that the script and much of the shooting was done long before OWS existed. People simply don't understand how movies work who espouse this view. I know that sounds snarky but it's true. 

  11. I don't know how familiar you are with the Batman or Spiderman canon but, really, Spiderman is just as violent as Batman. Just flip through some comic books. Perhaps Nolan's gritty realist interpretation in the films (a new approach to Batman if you look at the '90s "Batman and Robin" or the old campy '60s TV show) compared to Raimi's family-friendly Spiderman trilogy or the recent high-school puppy love Spiderman movie, has led you to this conclusion. Batman also deals with much darker themes than Spiderman, escpecially in confronting anarchy, fear, and political order. Spiderman movies tend to deal largely with personal relationships than with larger orders.

  12. Hi Richard,

    Great stuff as always.  Thanks for providing such interesting thoughts for discussion.  Just a general question -- what is your position/policy on people using your writings from this blog as Bible class material?  If attributed properly, is it alright to use your posts to guide a discussion?

  13. Susan, I think you've taken away exactly what Nolan hoped his audience would. In TDKR you'll find Bruce Wayne confronting this same dilemma. He eventually comes to realize that his personal violence against crime is cathartic vengeance that will only feed into crime and chaos and chooses to turn from his own need for violence to self sacrifice that frees others.

  14. Richard, why do you describe liberal views as optomistic and conservative views as pessimistic?

  15. I wouldn't say that Batman presents a higher view of humanity or an innate goodness in mankind.

    Now that is contrary to how Batman acts and it is in his contradictions and confusions that we see some glimmers of truth. For example, when Batman confronts the Joker and the Joker waits with glee to see both ships explode he is disappointed to see neither kill the other. Batman responds that he was wrong, but in fact the Joker was right. On one boat cowardice and sole responsibility stopped the mere philosophizing and idealization of democracy of the passengers; on the other, one man had to throw out the temptation which was no act of good but realizing that men were wicked enough that no one could hold the responsibility.

    Where the Joker was wrong was that chaos devours her children, sin ends up sabotaging itself in the end. The moral failures ended up subduing (providentially?) other moral failures.

    Another thing is that Batman, unknown to himself, ends up in constant futility. He realizes that the League of Shadows' solution won't fix the problem and is in fact a greater evil. So what is Batman's solution? Terror. That criminals are so afraid they cannot commit crimes. He is almost a figure for the Law of Moses and when he dies, his death isn't the solution. He isn't Christ like, he is merely the goat. His sacrifice does not atone for sin. Year after year more Batmen will rise up and die to maintain a system that awaits a fulfillment. Sadly there is no Jesus in Batman.

  16. You've piqued my interest. Guess we'll have to go see TDKR after all. It was either thar or Ice Age. I know....confessionally, we just mainly go to movies for relaxation and enjoyment (maybe a little escape?), so having read your blog plus comments, this one should be a real kicker. And thanks to all you earnest engagers and reflectors for your stimulation, especially Richard who most always stirs up the latent, remaining brain cells.. The blog is free....alas, Batman will take some bread. But I'm sure We'll take home a lot more to think about had we not engaged this latest offering.

  17. I too found aricclark's linked article helpful.  (Thank you, aricclark.)

    What fascinated me most, however, was your provocative choice of words here -- "struck."

    Especially in the context of a conversation about retributive justice and violence, I practically *felt* the backhand.

    Did you intentionally choose that word?  Or were you unaware of the metaphorical significance?

    Turning for the next "strike" in the name of ~peace~

  18. In my reflections over the past few days on the comic book character, Batman, I have been contrasting the old "Batman and Robin" TV series that I used to watch as a kid with Nolan's Batman trilogy.  Doesn't it say something that, back in the day, Batman and Robin were a team.  At least they were there for each other -- no lonely (super)heroes.

    Alfred is definitely one of the more positive characters in Nolan's trilogy.  But, something about the relational dynamic still bugs me.  I can't exactly express it...  I'll leave that to the experts/social psychologists, I guess.  Hopefully, you can break it down for those of us, such as myself, who struggle to articulate the problem...and find an adequate solution.  ~Peace~

  19. Thinking and reading some more...  This link speaks to Batman as a "type of Christ" --

    Apologizing for the multiple posts.  My understanding comes more slowly than others here, it would seem...  But I'm tenacious.  :-)


  20. No worries. It's not a particularly important conversation, to get agreement on the Christological significance of Batman in TDKR. It's just an idea I had, a defensible one I think, but not all that important. I don't mind you disagreeing at all.

  21. would love your thoughts on bane's love for miranda? i see the use of love for the positive in most characters but what of bane? would expound but doing this on my phone.

  22. Thank you for that.  Of course you are right; expressing an idea (or disagreement with an idea) is not a life or death matter.  It's not that I wish to be oppositional, or to demand a defense of your position.  It is your blog, and your prerogative to float any idea that interests you.  In fact, I cannot deny that I find most of the ideas put forth at ET to be damn interesting.

    Nevertheless, would you not at least allow the possibility that ideas often have broader consequences?  The ideas we have tend to define our philosophy of life and choices.  Movies, music, literature, art, *religion* all play into our cultural consciousness (sometimes *un*consciously).

    In a nutshell, Nolan's Batman epitomizes the "anti-superhero" as it were.  If he typifies Christ, then we are back to angry, wrathful God, are we not?  I do not see how we can separate Batman's actions into the one final sacrificial act, outside of the context of his life of violent, retributive justice, in order to make the connection of him as a Christ figure.  In order for that to work, we must then dismiss the entirety of Christ's *life* witness, and look only at the violent death he suffered (minus the resurrection, I might add).  TDKR could maybe be understood from a PSA framework.  But not from a Christus Victor theoretical perspective.  Is that a valid point in this discussion, or not?

    Perhaps I truly do not fully understand the literary meaning of "type of Christ."  I'm only saying that from a theological perspective, I think it is misguided to hold Batman up as a savior like Christ.  Two completely different "types."  IMHO.  That's where I'm coming from.  And that is the major point of disagreement with your take on Batman.  Otherwise, no doubt about it, TDKR and its predecessors are wildly entertaining (if you like a lot of violent action).

    I was startled to see the idea of Batman as a Christ figure coming from you, Dr. Beck. (Initial cognitive dissonance:  Shock -- "Are you serious?")  Given the nature of the ET blog -- which I get..."experimental" being the operative word, added to the thesis of Unclean and The Authenticity of Faith, and finally, what of your personal convictions and life that you have shared here at the blog, the "idea" did not resonate with the person, Richard Beck, that I *think* I know.

    Then, as a result, I started to rewind what I know of your convictions, and compare what I have held to be true of Batman, and conversely, Christ, and boom:  second phase of cognitive dissonance:  questioning my own beliefs.  D'oh!

    So, all that to say, please do not take this as my burning need to be right or to "win" anything here.  I'm working through my own ideas, held against your ideas, and trying to reconcile what to keep or modify, and what to throw away.  I am no doubt too blunt, slow to understand, and irritatingly intense in the course of dialogue.  Sorry for that.  Grateful for your patience with the process.

    The Batman trilogy has been a prominent topic of conversation in our household for several weeks now.  So it's been on my mind, and I had formulated ideas about it long before this blog post.  You hit a nerve, you might say.  My bad.  Should have taken to the walking trail first...  Double D'oh!


  23. Oh, I definitely think we should resist any equivalences. I think that's at the root of our discussion here. My sense is that you felt that I was drawing a almost literal equivalency between Christ and Batman, that Batman = Christ.

    But that's not what I'm doing. I'm engaging in a bit of cultural analysis using a Christological hermanutic, looking for themes and motifs rather than liternal equavlanices. It's akin to reading poetry looking for ideas that might jibe with Christian perspectives. For example, I might say that a butterfly is a sort of Christ-figure, given that the butterfly undergoes a sort of death and resurrection. But obviously, a butterfly isn't Christ. Nor is Batman. But Batman can be a Christ-figure the same way a butterfly can be.

    So I think that's the root of any disagreement between us. You see the violence in Batman, and because of that and rightly so, want to reject any strong equivalance to Jesus. I've no disagreement with that, nor did I worry much about your criticisms in this regard as that's not what I was trying to say. I was merely trying to trace out a Christian logic in the plot, how Batman sacrifices his life to save others and experiences a sort of resurrection in the end. That pattern, like the butterfly pattern, has a Christian shape. That's all I was trying to point out. And you, by pointing out the violence, pointed out where the pattern doesn't hold. Which is perfectly fine to do.

  24. Good read. It seems pertinent to this reflection that a good friend of mine who is conservative politically and I, politically liberal, each accuse the other of cynicism. I think he is cynical because he tends to question the ability and motive of government to do the things they claim (preferring decentralised government). While he accuses me of cynicism because I tend to question the constituency's ability to make good and right decisions for themselves without guidance (preferring centralisation). I was struck by your categorization of the conservative sensibility here. One person's cynicism is another persons realism perhaps, and we expose our predispositions when we accuse one another. I can feel my conservative friend resisting your category. : )

  25. In a related way, there is a two part series
    about the myth of redemptive violence myth, a blog comment about The Huffington Post recently published an article by Lee Camp (professor at David Lipscomb University) entitled Batman, Neo-Nazis and the Good News of Jesus Christ

    I have my thoughts about it, but I am a math geek who is also an Air Force brat, so I would be interested in a psychologists point of view. 

    And since you like me are a college professor, I know you have 'nothing to do' until the semester starts.....   ;)

  26. Hi Rob,

    I'm still doggedly contemplating this topic.  Thanks for these links.

    When I ponder whether there is ever any justification for violent counter-action by a follower of Christ, my mind always goes to Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  In his participation in the plot to assassinate Hitler -- to embrace the use of violence to stop a madman from harming and killing more innocents, Bonhoeffer wrestled with his conscience before God.  When I learned of that aspect of Bonhoeffer's biography, my admiration of his Christian character greatly increased.  I think the proper attitude of a Christian toward the use of violence as a redemptive tactic is humility and, probably, some degree of grief.  Violence and war should never be glorified, but rather seen as a failure on humanity's part to find a more creative resolution to our brokenness.  Characters such as Batman in TDKR give us far too much "permission" to feel good about our violence, and in fact, to see it as a Christlike / Godlike attribute.  To demonize and "throw away" those who are deemed as lost causes.  Lord have mercy on us all...  Save us from ourselves.  ~Peace~

  27. Hi Matt, thanks for the links, and great posts.

    You know, I don't know if a psychologist has anything particularly new to say about this debate. My only contribution would be to say that the impulses toward redemptive violence isn't rooted less in myth than in our moral psychology, mainly our impulses toward reciprocity.

    As for my personal views, I lean toward what Lee what is saying.

    Here's where I am on this. If we debate violence over the tabletop a variety of arguments could be made to justify certain uses of force. But I don't think that's really the issue (i.e., Can we think up a situation where violence might be justified?). For me the main issue is that we've become too cozy with violence across the board. It's not that there aren't times where violence might be justified but that we never object to violence at all. More, we seek out and immerse ourselves in entertainments that reinforce this acceptance and even glorify it. (And I'm very guilty on this score.) So my point is, where in our lives are Christians cultivating pacifistic sensibilities? Where are we learning to be increasingly restless with violence? Where are we learning to resist and object to the violence?

    That, it seems to me, is the more important point. It's less about abstract arguments about war and force than about spiritual formation in a violent world. Christians should be, it seems to me, growing toward being increasingly uncomfortable with violence. More positively, Christians should be moving increasing toward "love your enemies," to the point where, when push comes to shove, this becomes a live option, and even our default response.

    The point being, this is less about Christian ethics than about our psychological capacities. Less an argument for pacifism than are argument for being formed in such a way that pacifism can be practiced by the Christian.

    Let me frame this provocatively. Every Christian should try to be a pacifist. They should read pacifistic literature, educate themselves on non-violence, own the label pacifism, and argue the pacifistic side of arguments. Not because this view is right, but because living in this view shapes the imagination, heart and mind. The reason to live this way is that the psychological impulse toward violence (the reciprocity thing I mentioned above) is so strong that most of us will, when push comes to shove, default to violence. Given the strength of that temptation we need to spend a lifetime building capacities to resist. To stay as clean as we can in the hope that, in the moment of trial, we might actually be able to "resist not an evil person" if that is what we are called to do.

    So it's sort of like living life as a drug addict with violence as the drug. Being "a pacifist" is like being in AA, less about ethics than about being in rehab. Saying you are a pacifist is less about rejecting just war doctrine than it's saying, "I'm an addict trying to stay clean."

    Are there times when violence might be justified? Sure. I feel the power of those arguments. But those arguments just don't have any real bearing or impact upon my daily Christian walk. If I'm ever called upon to be violent I'm going to have no problem responding. That's not my problem. My problem is that if I'm called upon to be non-violent that I won't be able to respond at all.

  28. Yes, so right.  Now I am at peace with this topic.  (And the whole blog-tribe said, Amen!)

    In my book discussion group over the past three weeks -- Walter Wink's Jesus and Nonviolence: A Third Way, one participant who has had direct experience with non-violent protest and serving as witnesses to violent activity and oppression spoke eloquently of her fear that, in the moment of need, all good intentions would flee and she'd resort to counter-violence.  As you expressed so well, all we can do is prepare our minds and hearts for peace, and pray for the strength (and creativity) to live it out when tested.  If we never even try to learn peace, and to conversely *unlearn* the way of warring, we will never know if the "third way" could have healed, reconciled, and restored what had been broken.

    Thank you for these good words of truth and beauty.  Kindness, gentleness, and generosity of spirit are in such short supply in our culture.  When it does break through, I can dance for the joy in the midst of the Kingdom of God.  :-)  When it is absent, I feel like wailing in a heap of sackcloth and ashes...  ~Peace~

  29. ...except that Batman doesn't demonize and throw away lost causes. In fact, he's the lone voice insisting that Gotham is worth saving, when everyone else wants to give it up as a lost cause.

    And I definitely think he views his own tendency towards violence with grief. I don't think it makes him "feel good" - on the contrary, in TDKR he is portrayed as broken in body and spirit because of the life he's led as Batman. 

  30. When it comes to (non)violence debates I feel like there is often a disconnect between the two parties. Many of the arguments opposing pacifism focus on the end result and the consequences. While the end game of any senario is important, I feel like it would be a mistake to treat the commitment to non-violence like a valid strategy. 

    Pacifism is a commitment and a practice, not a tactic. In terms of effectiveness, pacifism is not a great tool for forcing change in the world. That would be God's job

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