Monday, November 28, 2005

David, Kara, and Milton

Another impressive post from the young men of the Rebelution has me thinking - of all things, thinking of Office Space.

Of course it's Peter's life's-too-short full-on revolt against corporate bureaucracy that gets the lion's share of the film, but Milton - "Excuse me, I b'lieve you have my stapler..." - is the guy I always remember. He's odd, he's unfriendly, and everyone simply assumes that he's a harmless non-entity. It's not that people go out of their way to mock him. They don't notice him enough to do that. He's shoved into the margins and then dismissed utterly, until he acts on all of his pent-up rage.

I can't remember now which of his essays this is from, but CS Lewis mentioned something like this: "One man may be so placed that his anger spills the blood of thousands; another may be so placed so that, however angry he may get, everybody laughs at him. But the spot on each man's soul may be much the same."

His point is that when it comes to sin, results are not the only thing God considers. In the end we finally see the results of the evil that Milton has been harboring - but it was still there eating at him even when there was no visible act. I may never become a murderer, but is that because I've rejected the thought, or because I simply didn't have a gun at the time the thought crossed my mind?

That's what I was thinking of when I read about David and Kara. He did have the gun, and so the key was embracing or rejecting evil in that moment.

An immediate objection to this is that, well, we all have dark moments. I know this as well as anyone, especially when that stooge on the cel phone has just cut me off and promptly slowed to twelve miles under the speed limit. No, I've never actually run anyone off the road. But for a moment, I can get the feeling that I could - and that's when I ought to be doubly on guard, the times I catch myself thinking, "Oh, I'd never actually do that, but..." That but is the whole point of Alex's post as I see it - how do I know? If the thought has crossed my mind, it means that such an act is not outside my capacity. "What comes out of a man is what defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a man." (Mark 7:20-23)

The second objection is that a deed committed obviously carries greater consequences. I think that this is a further reason to guard one's thoughts - so that it never does get out and cause that harm. For one thing, a small indulgence in harm (or in enjoying the thought of doing harm) inures and makes larger evils possible. For another, if one really wants to keep one's darkest thoughts from becoming ascendant, then it's precisely the time to deal with them, when they are still only thoughts. It may not be too late for your salvation when the blood's on your hands, but what of the person whose blood it is?

All the more reason to cling to Christ and be thankful for Him. He's the counterweight to my darkness. He's the reason I never killed myself. Everything good in my life is connected to Him somehow. Even hockey. I'd have chucked it in frustration long ago because I could never play perfectly, until freed from the need to appear perfect. And that's no accident to the discussion at hand, because at times, when I felt that there was no escape, all that was left for me was to say so - to tell Him that I wasn't worth His time, to stop hiding the awful truth from my friends that God wanted no part of me and perhaps they would be better served leaving as well. If I had never done this, from shame or from fear of appearing ungodly, then I would have never gotten grace and strength to pull through and would have been left to my own strength - the same motive power that had just finished running me headlong into the ground.

All I had to offer was my debt. Imagine my surprise when He accepted it as His own.

Update: Dec 2, 5:15 pm - thanks to the Judge Report for the link here in his most recent "Dawn Patrolees" roundup. The 'extra' comma in the title comes courtesy of Strunk and White's Elements of Style: "Separate each item in a list with a comma." They get those extra commas from such locutions as "John Q. Public Jr." (They argue that the comma is not required there, as "Jr." is not a title like "Esq." or "M.D.", and therefore ought to be treated differently.)

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