From ethics to the gospel (04) – via the Fall

8 12 2008

[Catch up on the whole ‘From ethics to the gospel‘ series]

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What’s wrong with the ‘moral universe’ of most Hollywood movies? The trouble is, it’s not true to life. Most films present you with a world that breaks down into goodies and baddies. The goodies are basically good, and the baddies are basically bad. Once you’ve worked who’s in which category, movie-life becomes simple.

But life’s not that simple. So how do you explain the good and bad in our world? There are plenty of options:

  • The Hollywood option. The world is a mix of good and bad. Some things are good, others are bad.
  • The Disney option. The world is basically good (with minor bad bits). All it takes is the right attitude, and everything will be OK.
  • The Pessimist option. The world is basically bad. There’s no hope, so just get used to it.
  • The Buddhist option. There’s no such thing as good or bad. Such categories are an illusion. Learn to move beyond them.

None of these stack up to reality. In the world we know, you find good and bad mixed together in everything. Even the best people can have terrible flaws. Even the worst people can show flashes of goodness. (And even Hollywood reflects this sometimes: Peter Parker desires vengence; Doc Ock shows remorse.)

The Bible explains this in a way nothing else does. It tells us of a good-world-gone-wrong. It tells us about Creation and Fall. God created a good world; that good world has gone wrong. In everything around you, you’ll see evidence of both truths. You’ll see echoes of the original goodness, of what might have been. You’ll see evidence of the corruption, how far short things have fallen. You’ll see both together in same object, the same person. You’ll see them together in every person and every aspect of our world.

That’s a message worth proclaiming. And it’s a message that will be heard. The very cosmos itself is on your side when you proclaim it. This message makes sense of people’s world in a way nothing else does.


The heart of Man is not compound of lies,
but draws some wisdom from the only Wise,
and still recalls him. Though now long estranged,
Man is not wholly lost nor wholly changed.
Dis-graced he may be, yet is not dethroned,
and keeps the rags of lordship once he owned,
his world-dominion by creative act:
not his to worship the great Artefact,
Man, Sub-creator, the refracted light
through whom is splintered from a single White
to many hues, and endlessly combined
in living shapes that move from mind to mind.

From Mythopoeia, by J. R. R. Tolkien


Posted by Rick Creighton

The next item in this series (‘From ethics to the gospel’) will be posted next Monday.

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