Saturday, August 21, 2010

Mindshot: Braveheart


On this occasion it is the sound, rather than the image we shall discuss.
Robert the Bruce is a bad man.  We see his actions.  He is bad.  He has betrayed our grand protagonist, William Wallace.  Amongst the circles of The Divine Comedy's Inferno, the Bruce would be thrown to the lowest pit, where he would join Judas Iscariot and the other betrayers.  They are devoured, chomped on, bit by bit, forever, by the Prince of the Air, Satan himself.  This should be the Bruce's fate.

Robert the Bruce is a bad man.  He is bad, but he has such aspirations of being good.  He has seen this "saint" bleed on the battlefield for something so grand.  He has heard the stories of how this man, Wallace, how he fought through a trap to get the body of his secret bride, and give her remains a proper burial.  He has heard the myths, that Wallace is a giant among men, that his sword draws from a power not seen since the staff of Moses.  He has heard all these things, and more.

Robert the Bruce is a bad man.  He betrayed William Wallace on the battlefield.  He saw his face, as the two came to realize what cowardice the Bruce acted on.  Robert saw with his eyes, and felt with his hands the innocent bodies of his rightful people, slain on the rigged field of war.  He sat on horsetop next to his bitter enemy.  He took to arms with that man which he loathed.  He saw the pain in his hero's eyes.  He has seen much.

Robert the Bruce is a bad man.  But for some reason, the great knight William Wallace saw something in the sinner Bruce.  He saw some resonance.  William encouraged him by showing the Bruce what abilities Robert has within himself.  Just before the betrayal, he even pleaded with him.  Who was Robert, for such a man to humble himself to him?  Why does this giant of faith consider him at all?

Robert the Bruce is a bad man, yet I love him so.  His great betrayal has freed him.  He has no longer any delusions of his self-worth.  He knows he is a bad man.  He has already committed the worst of crimes.  There is a mighty power in this self-knowledge.  Wallace, despite the Bruce's wretched behavior, has shown him mercy.  Grace even.  Wallace has allowed for a way for Robert to repent.  Robert can be redeemed.  Free at last.  Free at last.

Then things go wrong.  Robert himself is betrayed.

He cries gutturally.  Father.

Can you remember?

It is horrifically unfair to compare the Lord, our God to Robert the Bruce's earthly father, but I need to do so to try and capture the sentiment.  Bear with me.

But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together.  One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, 
"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" 
           And He said to him, 
"'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the great and foremost commandment.  The second is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'  On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."*

Jesus has told us what to do to live like him.  But then there's the how.  'How do I love?'  And, 'what is the loving thing to do in every situation?'  Then comes perhaps the more potent, selfish question, 'how am I to be loved in return?'

These exasperations are in the Bruce's voice.  His Father has also become his Judge.  Granted, in his case, his father is both a flawed father and an unjust judge, but still, the voice of the Bruce could be the voice of Job.

God has promised us an eternal dwelling with Him.  He has given us grace.  He has shown His mercy.  Despite these truths, events occur.  These events lay us siege to great doubts.  Then we shout.  We scream at our Father.

Because God will be silent in our lives, we grow impatient.  We devise these ideas that He must be unjust; He must be against us; His grace is not sufficient.  And so we shout.  Father.

I cry out to You for help, but You do not answer me;
I stand up, and You turn Your attention against me.
You have become cruel to me;
With the might of Your hand You persecute me...
I am seething within and cannot relaz;
Days of affliction confront me.
I go about mourning without comfort;
I stand up in the assembly and cry out for help.
I have become a brother to jackals
And a companion of ostriches.
My skin turns black on me,
And my bones burn with fever.
Therefore my harp is turned to mourning,
And my flute to the sound of those who weep."**

The issue for Job and Robert is, I think, love moreso than justice.  For Job, if God is loving, why does he allow his righteous one to suffer such devastation.  For Robert, if his father loves him, why does he deny him the ability to be found forgiven?

God loves us.  This I know.  This is true.  Nevertheless, we are brought to places where we cannot comprehend how the loving Savior of our Souls allows for such pain.

Father. Robert's arc ends when he is reminded that his sanctity, his forgiveness, is not something that his earthly father can hold hostage.  Job's arc ends with God showing him the leviathan, to remind Job that He is in control, and that which God has promised, God will fulfill.  Let us sing with shouts to God our struggles with great vexation, so that we too may be reminded of what is right and true.

*Matthew 22:34-40 NASB
**Job 30:20-22, 27-31 NASB