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Why So Serious? Because Death is No Laughing Matter

July 19, 2008

Most people can’t get enough of the Joker, Batman’s demented arch-rival who masquerades as a flamboyant comedian.  The Joker has been portrayed memorably by such acclaimed actors of Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, and Mark Hamill.  Yet, Heath Ledger‘s portrayal is the first big-screen interpretation that truly captures the evil of appeal of the Dark Knight’s Clown Prince of Crime.  Ledger’s Joker is simultaneously creepy and appealing, as is often the case when coming face-to-face with true evil.  The Joker does not attempt to make excuses for his actions.  He blames no one for what he has become.  He has no complex ulterior motive.  He simply kills the innocent because he must in order to find pleasure in life.  He is the type of creature who simply wants to “watch the world burn.”

The Joker, perhaps more than any other modern villain of popular fiction, has a single minded obsession with ruining the lives of the people who are the most opposite to his own worldview.  In this sense, he may be one of the closest fictional approximations we have of seeing a picture of Satan described in 1 Peter 5:8:
Your opponent, the devil, is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”

Isaiah described the king of Babylon as one who gave the appearance of a Bright Morning Star yet was cut down to the earth on account of his aspiration to be like God (Isaiah 14:12-22).  This evil king was repeating the error of Satan, and would receive a similar fate.  Now, the Devil knows his time is short to live as he pleases.  He knows he has no chance of over-throwing the Kingdom of Heaven, so is content to spend his days walking along the earth and destroying as many souls as he can.  He seeks out the morally upright and the overtly religious, the dregs of the earth and the rich young rulers, the atheist and the true believer.  He is a desperate being on his way to destruction. His only ambition is to watch souls burn for eternity.  As The Screwtape Letters remind us, if Satan can’t accomplish his ends through getting people to worship him outright, then he’ll do his best to convince people he doesn’t even exist, and, as such, not worth worrying about.

In a large IMAX theatre packed to the brim to see the masterfully made film, The Dark Knight, Adam Embry and I found it somewhat disturbing at how easily the audience was able to chuckle at the Joker’s dastardly antics.  They were, after all, amusing in a demented sort of way.  Yet, to respond to the Joker’s evil with nothing more than a laugh is to give in to his twisted worldview.  The Joker wants us to hold nothing sacred and to show no sobriety.  He only wants us to laugh at tragedy in the same light as he sees reality.  He taunts us with lines like “Why so serious?” because he wants us to get beyond our moral and spiritual hangups about sin, death, and destruction.  But we must be serious when death is on the line.

Fortunately, the Joker always meets his better when he confronts the Dark Knight.  Yet, Christians do not have to be content with waiting for a shadowy hero of the night to save them from the Evil One.  We worship a Savior who shall come in the clouds, where every eye can see Him.  The true White Knight promises to save all who confess Him as Lord.  He will not simply hand the Devil over to the police or the psychiatrists for mental examination, but He Himself will bind our enemy and cast him down to his eternal punishment.  On that day, every tear will be wiped away and the only ones smiling will be those who have believed in the incorruptible Lamb.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 29, 2008 3:35 pm

    We also have to be careful not to go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line.

  2. July 29, 2008 5:59 pm

    Indeed, I’d no sooner get involved in a land war in Asia.

  3. Lacey permalink
    September 4, 2008 10:58 pm

    You need to lighten up. Not every human being is going to sit there with a stern face because they’re so wrapped up in religion that they don’t know how to have a good time. I hope The Joker comes after you. >D

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