The tragedy of what happened in Colorado last week was a sobering wake-up call to me. I don’t think I will be going. Not because I’m afraid. Not because of the swearing and other not-so-pure images in the movie. Not because I don’t like “those kind” of movies. In fact, I have seen a lot of the comic book, fantasy movies. My son Kyle and I have been catching up on the Avengers and Spiderman. And lately he had been asking about watching the Batman movies, and I was considering whether I was comfortable with that. Everyone I talked to agreed that the Batman movies were darker than other superhero movies, but no one could pinpoint why they were that way. One person suggested that it was because the fictional city of Gotham was more evil than other settings for other movies.
Last week I heard that the gunman had dyed his hair orange and told police that he was “the Joker.” That people who were in the movie theater were confused about what were real gun shots and what were gunshots from the movie. We see guns in movies all the time. We see people getting hurt and being shot in movies all the time. But when we are confronted with the reality of what this does to people, violence stops being entertaining.
I wondered what I would be teaching my son about what was “fun.” We as a culture have glorified violence by putting it on the big screen in the context of a comic book fantasy. “It’s not real” is what I tell my children. We have become numb to seeing violence in a movie. I have participated in this by choosing to buy tickets to movies. I pay to see it; therefore the business thinks I like it; the business makes money. They want more money, so they make more violent movies for me to pay to see. And I do. This is how the cycle continues, and when will the cycle stop?
Do I naively believe that if you or I choose not to pay to see this movie that the movie makers will be so upset that we didn’t go that they will stop making these kind of movies? Trust me. They are making money even if it’s not mine. Lots of it. I believe the movie had a record-breaking week last week. I just know that I don’t want to be a part of making this movie profitable. I would like to find another way to not “let terrorists win.”
We won’t change our society by boycotts or new laws. Our society will change when people change. The only way I know how to change people is to give them the gospel. Jesus is the only person who can change hearts. So if we really want to change things, we must be about the business of preaching the good news. That we are sinners loved by God who made a way through the sacrifice of His Son for us to be in relationship with him. Preaching the gospel to ourselves and others is much harder than organizing a boycott or trying to change laws. It’s the kind of change you can’t quantify by the numbers. The best way for me to preach the gospel is to live the gospel every day. To admit when I mess up and run to the cross. I’ve found a lot of people in the church who do not truly understand all that they have received from the cross: forgiveness, justification, adoption, sanctification. They might understand it with their heads, but it hasn’t made it to their feet and affected how they live. When I began to understand how much God loved me and how much of a sinner I was, I heard the music and not just the words.
The more I hear about the shooter and his increasing isolation from people, the more I realize how dangerous isolation can be. I wonder if he knew how much God loves him or if anyone in his life showed him love. As a Christian, I am beginning to understand how important the law of love is: to love God and to love others. This is what I want to use to fill my time. God invites us into his work of changing hearts and changing lives. Will you accept his invitation?
Question: Are you going or not going to see Batman?