Here’s February’s article from the Multnomah Voice. I hope you like it!
I watched The Black Swan recently and for the very first time in my life it seemed appropriate to apply the word “demonic” to something. The movie is demonic not in the sense that it glamorizes witch craft or anything like that but it is demonic in that it portrays movingly and convincingly the fallen forces which eat away at minds and distort souls. It shows the viewer the evil sickness of sin’s grasp of the world in a way which makes one understand: sin is terribly real and frighteningly powerful.
The movie is an account of a ballerina’s descent into ultimately violent psychosis as she prepares to perform the starring role in the ballet Swan Lake. When I watched it I thought immediately of the poor man in Arizona who, apparently in the grips of his own psychosis, shot and killed nine people and wounded more. If I could see inside his tortured mind, would I experience the same panicky horror as I felt while watching Natalie Portman in The Black Swan? Was his illness as distressing to him and as uncontrollable as hers? Do his parents cry and rage uselessly now as the character’s mother did in the movie? If we could see a movie which so vividly portrayed his tragedy, would we weep for him too like I did for the ballerina?
I thought also while watching the movie of an old woman I know who has Alzheimer’s. Her mind is slowly but surely losing its connection to reality, not with the violent effects of these other instances, but surely with the same grief, horror and bewilderment for her friends and family and herself as they watch her, day by day, disappear.
Death entered the world through sin, and not just death but the illnesses which precede it, the violent psychoses which cause it, and the mental breakdowns which make some long for it. And yet just as sin entered the world and death with it, so Christ entered the world and brought healing and forgiveness. Walking back to my car after the movie, I preached myself the gospel: “A man named Jesus was born into the world. He came here because he loved us. He went to the people in their towns and in their homes and he told them how much God loved them. The man loved the people and gave his life for them. He didn’t die but he lives and he saves a place for us. One day death and illness and grief won’t be with us anymore. One day we will just be with him, loving and being loved.”
I repeat this gospel to myself (“A man was born into the world… A man was born into the world…He loved us and died for us …. He loved us and died for us”) almost as a talisman, as if the presence given the words by my speaking them will somehow protect me from the horror of this world. They won’t, of course, but the One they speak about will one day renew it and His people will suffer no more. He shepherds us through the valley, and will bring us safely home.