Theblogogy - The Blog of Theology and Questions

The Blog of Theology and Questions

Saturday, February 28, 2015

"House of Cards" Abraham

House of Cards has long toyed with religious themes. And as I've written elsewhere, "Modern culture is woefully ignorant of the Bible and Christian thought. Please stop making us even more ill-informed." This continues to today. There is a scene at the end of Season 3, Episode 4 which was simply so ... bad? misleading? almost something? filled with potential? ... whatever it was, I felt it important to rant about it for a bit.

The video above is long. Sorry, I ramble when I get excited.

The episode continues to return to the theme of Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac and God giving His Son to die. Frank, battling some inner demons, asks a religious leader about justice. "What is it?"

The guy replies that there are two kinds: The justice man follows/creates by interpreting the 10 Commandments and the two central commands that we love God, love others.

Frank isn't convinced we need that much interpretation considering "Thou shalt not kill" is pretty straightforward. The religious guy isn't convinced. "There's lots of killing in the Bible," he counters. "Ultimately, it's either us who do the killing or someone else will." ...which sounds like the beginning of a good followup to the how should we respond to threats? question we considered a while back. There's an even deeper problem. The command that we should not kill is better said, "Do not murder." Why? Because killing is not the same as murder. Murder is the rectangle to the "kill" square. Murder is the malicious/premeditated killing of someone. This is different than, say, accidentally hitting someone with your car. Even the Bible provides a clear distinction between these two causes of human death. This is why, way back in the Old Testament, God commanded that there be cities of refuge (if you don't know what those are, click the link and read the 10, or so, verses; it won't take long).

They don't mention any of this in the show even though it fits perfectly with why Frank is asking about justice. Thematically, technically, philosophically, and ethically, this discussion would have been just what Frank needed to hear. But, no. The guy simply mentions that even Kind David was a warrior (not to mention murderer and adulterer).

"You can't love the people you kill," Frank says.

The religious guy counters that you can. And you need to even love those who are trying to kill you, just as Jesus asked God to forgive the Romans as they crucified Him.

"Why didn't He fight?" Frank asks.

Rather than answering the question -- you know, with passages from the Bible -- this religious character says, "I ask myself that same question."


Frank then says that he understands the vengeful God of the Old Testament who rules through fear. But Him..." and here he turns to look at a crucifix.

And this I like. Here we get to see the utterly bewildering aspect of Jesus, the radical display of God's love, and how incomprehensible it can be. There's a bit more to the scene, but it ends with Frank alone with the statue of Jesus. "You're selling love? Well," Frank scowls, "I don't buy it." Which is perfect. Exactly. It's very difficult for people to understand this crazy thing called love. But what I don't like is that we never get to see how there isn't a violent God of the Old Testament and this buddy-Jesus of the New. I get how people get that impression, but it's simply not the case.

Anyway, after spitting on the crucifix -- like people did to Jesus during the crucifixion -- the ceramic Jesus falls off the cross and smashes on the ground, echoing -- I guess -- the Dagon statue. This ends with Frank picking up a piece of the broken figure and saying to the audience, "I have God's ear now."


This scene isn't shocking -- especially considering the graveside scene at the start of the season -- because there have been far better scenes before it ...such as the crucifix burning sequence in Amadeus.

Why go through all this? Well, because the scene is such a great opportunity to interact with religious ideas in a culturally relevant way. There's also some very good stuff in here, along with really terrible oversights.

Anyway, let's learn more together. Any input?


No comments :

Post a Comment