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Trail Thoughts: Confronting Scientism

Biden and his handlers want to impose a hundred days of wearing masks. Why isn’t he pointing us to the right nutritional practices in order to strengthen our immunity? Join David Gornoski as he explains how the government cult of “trusting the experts” isn’t far away from the lynchmobs and witch hunts of the ancient world. What lies behind the constant scapegoating on Twitter? How do we keep ourselves free from this sickness of envy and how do we exorcize people from this demonic spirit?

Also in the show, noted publisher Eric Kampmann returns with a brand new segment of Trail Thoughts. Eric tells us how the term “Trail Thoughts” came about via his experiences of reflecting on big issues like faith and doubt while hiking in the mountains. From there, Eric shifts the conversation to the rise of Gnosticism and Scientism as ideologies substituting God in our lives. “Science,” Eric says, “is a method and not salvation.” How do we avoid falling into the trap of materialism and idolatry? How do we stay the course of serving our neighbor? Listen to the full episode to find out and more.

Visit Eric Kampmann’s website at erickampmann.com

The Crowd Devours Herod, Corey DeAngelis on School Choice Under Biden

David Gornoski starts the episode with an excellent analysis of the crowd spirit by examining the murder of John the Baptist. Also in the show, David is joined by Corey DeAngelis, the director of school choice at Reason Foundation. The two talk about what school choice means; the future of school choice under Biden; the state’s hostility towards charter schools; the education interest money behind Biden’s team; and more. Why did Bill de Blasio close all New York City public schools based on an arbitrary COVID-19 positivity rate? Did the lockdowns cause a shift in parents’ choices towards homeschools?

The Godfather – A Film Analysis

At the start of The Godfather: Part II (directed by Francis Ford Coppola), we see a grim exchange between a corrupt politician and the head of a Sicilian Mafia family. The politician, a reputed senator, denies the Mafia Don’s request for a Vegas gambling license, saying: “I despise your masquerade, the dishonest way you pose yourself.” The Mafia Don, Michael Corleone (portrayed by Al Pacino), replies: “We’re both part of the same hypocrisy, senator.”

When we see our current socio-political climate (“current” meaning the whole of our lifetime) it is fair to conclude that Mario Puzo’s The Godfather speaks volumes about the rampant hypocrisy running deep in our society. What is hypocrisy? The Greek hypokrisis is closely connected to envy and theatrics. A common subject for the theater in ancient times was, no doubt, mythology.

The Godfather saga can be considered a modern myth—a continuation of the drama of the Greek gods—albeit with a post-Calvary dynamic. In ancient Greece, Zeus was considered the king of the gods and, therefore, the most worthy of worship. Hades, the god of the underworld, on the other hand, is mostly avoided out of fear by the masses. Zeus is the popular face of the gods, the representation of the light: the kind of savior for which people yearn. Hades is the representation of the things that, socially, are best left unsaid.

What’s best left unsaid is the mirroring of the two forces and the source of evil. The rule of Zeus is publicized—presentable. The rule of Hades is an open secret—an incrimination of Zeus. Both rule via murder, coercion, and persecution. This order of mythology is channeled in the Godfather saga. Don Vito Corleone (portrayed by Marlon Brando), Michael’s father and mentor, recognizes this and refers to the politicians, clergy, lawyers, doctors, and professors as pezzonovante: “big shots.”

It is worthwhile to observe the developing relationship between Vito Corleone and the pezzonovante. In his novel, Mario Puzo sketches a history of the Corleone family that is very much grounded in reality. Vito Corleone ascends the underworld by running bootlegging operations during the Prohibition era. During that time, he becomes enormously powerful. The politicians and lawyers see a valuable use for him seeing how black market operations can be beneficial to them. Likewise, Don Corleone pockets these respectable public faces for his own endeavors.

The modern-day relationship between Zeus and Hades is a sophisticated version of the ancient myths. Both employ violence to achieve their ends; both do so in a manner of mutual understanding. This is made all the more obvious when we notice how the Mafia structure works. The Don is at the top of the hierarchy followed by the consigliere (counselor), the caporegimes (commanders), and then the “button men,” the foot soldiers. The Don never gives an order directly to the soldier; it always comes down through the hierarchy.

The structure of our modern-day governments is more or less the same. Why are the hierarchies like this? It is precisely due to the fact that both seek to hide the source of the violence under anonymity. Thus, the sacredness of the structures is maintained. Mario Puzo hammers this point home in an interaction between Michael and his future wife Kay (portrayed by Diane Keaton).

Michael: “My father is no different than any powerful man, any man with power, like a president or senator.”
Kay: “Do you know how naive you sound, Michael? Presidents and senators don’t have men killed.”
Michael: “Oh. Who’s being naive, Kay?”

Michael’s story is a tragedy for this very reason. He, like his father, has recognized the truth but he is trapped inside it like a bird in a cage. In the beginning of the story, he is, like Kay and most of us, naive about the power structures of society. In defiance of his father, he enlists in the marines and goes off to war. He comes back a war hero and chooses to marry an American girl to further his rebellion.

The scales fall away from his eyes, however, when a mob hit on his father’s life fails. In the hospital, as he races to save his wounded father from another hit, Michael realizes how corrupt the police can be, who are bought off by rival gang lords. This realization, that the life of a pezzonovante means the life of a puppet, leads to Michael killing a police captain and thus cementing his entrance into the underworld.

Things grow much bleaker over the span of two films, as we see Michael’s violent actions coming back to haunt him. With the death of his father, Michael grows more sinister and isolated after witnessing betrayal after betrayal; he trusts no one. The violence which he must employ to keep the wolves away ultimately spills into his family in unspeakable ways.

It is here that Mario Puzo’s Catholic sensibilities are noticeable. When Michael’s wife willingly commits an abortion, it is made certain to us through Kay’s very own words that her abortion is an “abomination” done to stop another child from entering Hades’ underworld of violence and death. Also, Michael’s own brother Fredo betrays him. All of this culminates in Michael having his brother assassinated; it is an event that would haunt him for the remainder of his life.

Puzo does not mythologize Hades. He certainly romanticizes some characters to a degree but never beyond belief. What Puzo does with Michael’s character is humanize him and make him relatable. How on earth can we relate to a cold and calculating Mafia boss? For this, we will come again to the mirroring of the two hierarchies.

The Mafia structure which Puzo writes about is centuries old, built on the traditional system of the old mythologies. In our world, we might be inclined to think that our nation’s leaders are the political equivalent to the Mafia Dons. But when we look closely, we will see that the leaders are mere “button men.” After all, the leaders are elected and brought into office by popular consensus.

Who then are the Mafia Dons in our midst? The answer: whoever that wishes to hide within the anonymity of the crowd and have others carry out their dark fantasies. Think of a “respectable” person who threatens his/her neighbor by calling the police when something unruly occurs. This tiny illustration should be sufficient to convict us. It also tells us why the ancient Mafia system has died out. The Mafia has died out because we—the average citizens—have chosen to be the replacement. It is no coincidence that Mario Puzo chooses to tell the tale of Hades in a manner of realism and from the perspective of a mortal.

The violence that haunts the Corleones is symbolic of the unrest and decline in moral values that grips a society when it decides to play God. When a society decides to take the role of a democratic judge, jury, and executioner, and by proxy eliminates all those who are non-violent yet disorderly and non-conforming, that society short circuits because the Calvary event does not allow for anonymity to last.

In the last scene of the Godfather: Part II, we see Michael Corleone seated all alone in contemplation. He has become the most powerful man in the underworld but there is no joy in his triumph. How can he celebrate when he sees very clearly the bones of his very own brother, among the others whom he has murdered, as the foundation of his empire? We are left with only one thing: the fate that waits for us if we continue down the same path of hypocrisy.

Gaslight – A Film Analysis

The secret to discovering a well-disguised tyranny is to understand the mind of a serial predator.

The 1944 psychological thriller Gaslight, directed by George Cukor, is reminiscent of the Hitchcockian thrillers that were very popular during the war and post-war years, though the move itself is not directed by Hitchcock. It is also perhaps one of the finest microcosmic representations of how fear and manipulation can be used to exert power and control.

The film’s protagonist is the orphaned character of Paula Alquist (portrayed by Ingrid Bergman), and the prologue tells of Paula’s traumatic aftermath just after she had witnessed the body of her aunt Alice Alquist, a famous singer, lying motionless underneath an enormous portrait of herself. Paula is escorted out of London to help her start a new life. In the next scene, we learn that she is training to be a singer in Italy.

It is in Italy where Paula meets a man named Gregory Anton (portrayed by Charles Boyer) and falls in love with him, later marrying him. Little does she know that Gregory who exudes politeness and concern at every turn is, in fact, a heavily disturbed individual. Gregory’s behavior is worth observing because he expresses a particular kind of illustrative control that is highly manipulative and sinister.

When Paula thinks of the places where they’d move to begin their new life together, Gregory suggests London. Paula is immediately struck by this suggestion but she agrees. Upon arriving in London, Paula is transfixed at the many reminders of her murdered aunt. To her, the portraits and the furnishings are like skeletons from a violent past; but Paula also somehow knows that these belongings of her aunt are valuable to her.

Gregory, on the other hand, is too anxious to get rid of these reminders while claiming that he does not want his wife’s new life to be haunted by tragedy. It is here where we will observe the cult leader-like nature of Gregory; examining this nature is key to understanding power and control that exists around us on a much bigger scale.

First, we observe that Gregory intends to separate his wife from all reminders of her past, especially those involving her aunt, and by doing so, Gregory effectively hides the event of Alice Alquist’s murder and also the identity of the murderer. A murderer and persecutor is always aware that the past in its completeness convicts the true wrongdoer.

Knowing the past—complete with its glories and tragedies—is essential to a future devoid of delusion. Hiding the past, the tragic murder, however, creates a state of delusion and a steady spiral into madness.

When Paula happens upon a letter—one that was written by a man named Sergis Bauer to her aunt—Gregory is alarmed; he immediately and violently snatches the letter from his wife’s hands. The control, alienation, and isolation start from this point onwards.

The next thing that Gregory does is to take advantage of his wife’s childlike naivety; he starts playing with Paula’s memories. He intentionally misplaces valuable items and convinces Paula that it is she who is misplacing them. Due to this clever tactic, Paula grows increasingly detached and numb.

Notice how this technique of “gaslighting” (a term made famous by this movie) is ever-present in the world around us. Censorship, canceling out the past because it is “problematic” for us, and inducing guilt in the form of false memories are some of the elements that are required for totalitarian control. They are used all the time in our media-driven world.

Gregory Anton’s technique of guilt-inducing is particularly useful for imposing complete isolation on the chosen subject. The subject is declared sick and therefore must be enclosed for her own good. This point is hammered down in a scene where Paula and Gregory attend a concert. During the performance, Gregory tells Paula that he is unable to find his watch and then “discovers” it, much to Paula’s horror, inside her purse. She breaks down and is escorted out in front of a bewildered audience.

It is important to note here that Gregory’s abuse is not undertaken by him alone. Persecution, to be effective, must be carried out by a multitude of actors, which is why Gregory plants seeds of resentment towards Paula among the maidservants of the house while presenting himself as an agent of Paula’s stern and lofty personality.

In one scene, Paula is keen to warm the fireplace by herself but she is reproached by her husband and is instead encouraged to call for the servant. The servant arrives and, upon hearing Paula’s command to put coal in the fireplace, eyes her mistress with a hint of contempt. Meanwhile, Gregory himself cleverly interacts as a person who wishes to bridge the gap between the servant and the mistress.

Gregory’s approach of sowing resentment and envy serves a twofold purpose. First, it would allow him to accomplish his goal unhindered, which we will come to later. Second, it would cement Paula’s alienation and ensure that she wouldn’t receive empathy in her state of detachment. Indeed, when Paula hears footsteps of a mysterious intruder in the middle of the night, her claims are dismissed even by the most upright of her servants as mere imagination.

Envy, resentment, and discord—these are familiar enough words to describe our political and cultural discourse. But Gregory Anton’s approach is one that will be eerily familiar to those who analyze political history. Just as Gregory sows resentment in his household, so do the rulers and influencers of our time. Just as Gregory’s co-conspirators are unconscious in their persecution, so are the vast majority of people around us who rely on the designated priestly media class to instruct and direct them.

Our own participation in the machinations of violence is often overlooked and, instead, we find ourselves directed by fear and envy towards another—one who is innocent. Upon realizing this scapegoat mechanism, our first instinct is to recognize ourselves as the scapegoat, but this is where we must quickly caution ourselves. Paula’s descent into the inferno of self-doubt is not where she redeems herself; she will do that later.

First, we must note Paula’s own failure to escape the mimetic rivalry that is being set up for her. When commanded by her husband to ring for the servant, she begins in earnest by saying, “We should consider them a little.” But she allows herself to succumb to her husband’s intent; and she succumbs because she thinks her husband is incapable of evil. Paula’s gullibility reminds us of ourselves and our blind faith in the tyrannical powers that pit us against each other.

Once we are aligned on the battlefield—once the lines are drawn—the criminal nature of coercive, predatory power swings into action. In Gregory’s case, the object of theft are Alice Alquist’s royal jewels. In the case of predatory, tyrannical power, the object is always our inherent worth as human beings and as icons of the Creator.

In the climactic scenes of the movie, we see an inspector named Brian Cameron (portrayed by Joseph Cotten) seek out Paula and confront her with reality. She isn’t going crazy, Brian assures her, she is completely sane. He reveals to her that he was an admirer of Paula’s aunt and gives her a glove that was gifted to him by Alice Alquist, a valuable piece of the past that would’ve never found its way into Paula’s hands had Gregory’s cancel culture-esque scheme been perfected.

Brian also helps Paula discover the letter that Gregory had snatched and hidden from her; the letter identifies that Gregory is her aunt’s murderer. After a brief struggle, Gregory is apprehended and tied to a chair. In desperation, Gregory demands to see his wife. She agrees.

Paula sees before her the man who’d almost driven her insane. “Take the knife and cut me free,” Gregory tells her in a last-ditch effort of manipulation. Paula takes the knife in her hand and is visibly tempted to punish her husband just as he’d punished her. The viewer here wonders whether she will cut him free or kill him. But Paula pulls away, deciding to let justice takes its course.

Gaslight is a rare film that does not employ the sacrificing of the villain as the narrative’s problem solver. Too many times we see the hero get his revenge on the villain, often in the exact manner as the previous act of violence. But Paula proves herself to be miles apart from other protagonists. The filmmakers maintain the purity of her character while giving the viewer an important lesson that innocence needs not be tainted for justice to prevail.

The key to stopping tyranny is not to mimic its evildoing but to walk away from its contagious grasp. In doing so, it will be rendered obsolete.

THINGS HIDDEN 14: Memoirs of a Gaijin

 

Dr. Paul Axton, theologian and host of the Forging Ploughshares podcast, sits down with David Gornoski to talk about his experience of living in Japan, the idea of shame in death, Lacanian psychoanalysis, and seeing Japanese culture through Christian eyes.

While pointing out that Romans 7 is absolutely essential for understanding what it is to imitate Jesus, Dr. Axton observes that death is “an orientation of violence and what we’re continuously spreading as we go.”

Dr. Axton further explains that the problem of scapegoating is rooted in theological development and that we often mistakenly think that scapegoating is our salvation. The theologian highlights that refusal to scapegoat is resisting the enthroned sacrificial powers through an analysis of Shusaku Endo’s novel ‘Silence’ and the historical persecution of Christians during the Tokugawa shogunate.

Why is there such a high suicide rate in Japan? What can Japan teach the rest of the world in being both a high-functioning and scapegoating society? Listen to the full podcast for an intriguing conversation on culture, politics, and the juxtaposition between scapegoating and technological rise in modern Japanese society.

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Finding Good News in Chaos

“Everything that you see in politics is based on a zero-sum frame of reality,” David Gornoski says. He points out how politicians rely on you to vote them into defeating your enemies without actually dealing with any of the core issues. “Excellence doesn’t require a savior; it requires skin in the game.” Amid social scandals, it’s important to realize that, thanks to the crucifixion of Christ, we can recognize the hidden persecution when we see the news. How can we see the good in an environment of discord and unrest? The key is to emulate Jesus, David says. Listen to the full episode for David Gornoski’s deconstruction of the political game of attraction and repulsion and more.

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David Gornoski on Nikola Tesla, the News, and Innovation

David Gornoski gives the example of Nikola Tesla’s story and highlights that revolutionary breakthroughs come, not through top-down coercion, but always through unhindered innovation. Solutions start with the question: Do you love yourself? How can you love and help others if you don’t love yourself? Join David Gornoski as he goes through the latest news reports and explains how the solutions to our society’s problems lie in rejecting the media’s blame-game. The solution has always been in our hands, David says, and it’s up to us to act it out voluntarily in loving our neighbors. Listen to the full episode for all this and more.

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Wilfred Reilly on Social Unrest

Kentucky State University’s Wilfred Reilly calls in to discuss the ongoing riots, institutionalized racism, and Christ’s anthropological impact on human history. “There’s nothing noble about a mob. Crowds are not logical,” says Dr. Reilly as he points to how the rioters have destroyed mostly minority businesses. The conversation moves to the question of what motivates rioters psychologically. Here, David explains how Jesus dispersed the crowd using what he calls ‘social aikido.’ How can we use the Gospel technology to disperse angry mobs today? Listen to the full episode for a fascinating conversation on bringing Jesus’ personhood revolution to our nation and more.

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Metropolis – A Film Analysis

Very few films have defined a genre. One of these films is the 1927 German silent movie Metropolis. Directed by legendary filmmaker Fritz Lang, Metropolis is a dystopian sci-fiction movie that touches on important socio-political and even theological aspects of modern society. Made during the Weimar era—a time when Germany was in political and economic turmoil, and when cities often witnessed street battles between communists and fascists—the movie manages to be relevant even today as it was then. Why? This is something that we will try to understand as we analyze some of the movie’s key characters and narrative points.

The opening scenes depict the underground-dwelling workers of an enormous unnamed city toiling away at ambiguous machines that keep the city alive. After their ten-hour shifts of grueling manual labor, these crestfallen workers descend to the depths and limp away to their homes. We then move heavenwards, to the roofs of the skyscrapers, where the children of the rulers and the powerful play and enjoy gardens and private arenas. It is here where we meet our hero: a young man named Freder, who is the son of the city’s master, Joh Fredersen.

The setting makes visible the sharp class divide that exists in the city, and this divide has parallels to our own modern-day urban life. The cinematography perfectly utilizes the workers’ robotic movements to make them appear as extensions of the machines and ultimately non-humans—others. This divide of the classes and the other-izing of a segment of the city’s population gives the impression that something is lacking in society, and this lack gives way to a shattered and unbalanced way of life. Again, this is analogous to our real-life urban existence.

It is because of this missing component that our society is divided into warring factions who look to sacrifice one another to produce the perfect society. The working class and ruling class divide gave rise to Marxist thinking, something that the film addresses, albeit in a fragmented way. Marxist theory is a derivation of Hegelian thought, that society evolves through dialectical struggle and through revolution which produces a fair and desirable state of being. This struggle that Marxism describes is a variant of mimetic warfare—conflict that ends in human sacrifice and false hope for a better future.

Young Freder, during one of his escapades in the gardens, is dumbfounded at the appearance of a character named Maria and several children of the workers whom she has brought along with her. “Look, children,” Maria says, pointing to the sons and daughters of the wealthy rulers, “these are your brothers and sisters.” Maria is the Christ-Marian archetype of the story. She is the unconscious Christian insert by the writer Thea von Harbou, unconscious because her character is produced as a figure of innocence and beauty, and also because she inadvertently leads a curious Freder to the horrors of the underground machines of the city.

In the underground, Freder witnesses firsthand the anguish-ridden existence of the workers. One of the machines explodes when a worker fails to tend to it in time. Freder is thrown back by the explosion and he then hallucinates the gigantic head of Molech swallowing bound slaves and the workers who walk into the monster’s mouth in defeat. This entire sequence of events is an unconscious retelling of the Passion story in the New Testament. The Marian-Christ figure leads the pagan who is steeped in mythology into the reality of misery faced by the unquestioning innocents, and by doing so she unveils the ritual human sacrifice that sustains society. The shock treatment of this revelation opens Freder’s eyes. His world will never be the same again.

We are again brought back to this missing component—this absence of a bridge between the ruler and the ruled. The incomplete state of Metropolis means that violence links and sustains society and as a result, Molech—the Canaanite god of human sacrifice—swallows those who fail to do their work properly. The missing component means that natural law reigns in all its Darwinian glory. Might makes right! Human beings are mutated into lifeless and disposable machines. Such a society is bound to fail because it relies on an endless supply of scapegoats; Joh Fredersen denies this reality when his son rushes to tell him of the suffering of the workers.

Fredersen ignores his son’s plea for mercy. He recognizes that the expulsion of workers to the depths is a necessity, and this necessity—this myth—must not be broken or everything will fall apart. The later parts of the story prove him to be partially right. Fredersen is not overjoyed or passionate at this recognition; indeed, he is concerned about his son. He is, after all, faced with a dilemma as are his real-life counterparts. He must either choose the path of expulsion and keep the city running as he is obligated to or he can break the religious structure and risk an inversion of the hierarchy or, even worse, a war of all against all.

But Fredersen does not realize that there is a third way, and this way is discovered by his son Freder who voluntarily exiles himself to the underground and takes on the role of a worker himself. Freder discovers that the workers, after their shifts, go to the catacombs and devoutly listen to Maria who preaches about a coming ‘mediator’—a heart that will bring together the mind (the rulers) and the hands (workers). Maria explains this need for a mediator through a revisionist telling of the tower of Babel story wherein she claims that the tower could not be completed because of discord between the slaves and the chief planners.

So here we are told what the missing component is and what needs to be done to achieve equilibrium. Unbeknownst to Thea von Harbou, who was really pointing to a charismatic leader to fill in the role of the mediator, she is unconsciously arguing for the sovereign rule of a divine king, and not just any king but a king who is uniquely redeeming, non-violent, and persuasive through voluntary discourse. This king in all certainty is Jesus Christ. It is Christ who fulfills the unraveling of pagan mythology—the violence that serves as the foundation of cities. And it is Christ who, upon his advent, achieves the role as the perfect mediator and the perfect role model.

Also, the characters of Maria and Freder themselves are an indication of Christ in the world of Metropolis. Maria emerges from the place of the workers, therefore she represents, in a sense, Christ’s human nature. Freder comes from the place of the wealthy and the powerful; he represents the divine nature of Christ. The two natures sometimes overlap between the two characters. It is no wonder that both fall in love with each other, thus symbolizing the spiraling unity of the divine and the human in bringing about redemption to the world. From here onwards, after Maria almost supernaturally recognizes that Freder is the promised mediator, Freder and Maria work together to save Metropolis.

Next, we are introduced to the iconic machine-person and its creator, the mad scientist Rotwang whose name translates to ‘red cheek.’ Rotwang is the mimetic double of Fredersen. He was once a close friend of Fredersen but later becomes a rival due to his pursuit of Fredersen’s now-deceased wife Hel. The character of Rotwang ends up as a scientist who, in his model-obstacle relationship with Fredersen, attempts to play God. A scientist who ‘plays God’ is typically one who lacks any intention of preserving the life-affirming goal, i.e. healing of human life, given to science by the Gospel revelation.

One sign of the mad-scientist archetype is his act of creating an artificial being that rivals humans who are God’s creation. Rotwang’s creation is the Maschinenmensch—the machine-person. This machine-person takes on the likeness of Maria to lead the workers and eventually the whole city into a state of disarray. The machine-person is depicted as the ultimate scandal generator. She is comparable to the array of Christ substitutes—false Christs—that exist in our modern day societies. She is presented by Rotwang to the elites as a prostituted savior, a corrupted messiah who sells herself as a glittering object of desire and scandalizes society as a result.

The machine-person causes numerous rivalries and deaths amongst the elite. Those who burn in lust for her end up competing and fighting over her, thus killing rivals in fistfights and duels. The machine-person’s real-life counterparts are the various socialist, Marxist, and other such radicalized political and cultural movements that present to us numerous false-Christs—charismatic figures that claim to fight for victims but end up scandalizing society in an attempt to erase differentiation.

One characteristic of a false-Christ is his/her claim of protection of victims through violence. In order to fight evil, a false-Christ will always urge the use of violence, equal or greater than the perceived offense. This is made all the more clear when the machine-person impersonates Maria at the catacombs and sends the workers into a revolutionary rage by urging them to “destroy the machines.”

Freder recognizes the machine-person as an impersonator. “You’re not Maria!” he says, “Maria spoke of peace—not violence!” His words fall on deaf ears as the crowd turns on him before proceeding to wreak havoc on the machines that run the city. The crowd dances around the ruins, not realizing that the destruction has caused severe flooding of their own homes with their children inside. This scene is an obvious indication of the cannibalizing nature of violent revolutions. If there is violence, it will eventually come back one way or another. Such is the nature of violence.

Fortunately, Maria and Freder, who just narrowly escaped lynching by the crowd, join together and save the workers’ children from drowning. The children here represent the non-violent victims who fall in the crosshairs of mob persecution, emboldened in our world by unjust laws. We have numerous real-life examples: the millions murdered under the communist and fascist regimes, the separation of families due to the “war on drugs,” the drone attacks on innocents in the so-called war on terror, and the list goes on. Maria and Freder’s actions here are the only valid Christian response that we can take in the face of tyranny and mob persecution: the imitation of Christ which leads to the salvation of victims and the total rejection of the scapegoat mechanism.

Admittedly, the movie falters when it kills the primary antagonists, the machine-person and Rotwang; the former in a literal witch-burning by a crowd that has recognized the deception. Again, we must keep in mind that the narrative treats violence and the scapegoating ritual in a fragmented manner. The writer, not a Christian in any sense, had unconsciously inserted the anti-scapegoating segments as a result of the post-Calvary revelation—the innocence of the one persecuted by the many—that has haunted and continues to haunt the European psyche. Where the movie succeeds brilliantly is the salvation of the children of the workers and the resulting peace it manages to achieve between the workers and Joh Fredersen.

Upon the appearance of Fredersen, the crowd is poised to lynch him but they are made aware of the fact that it was Fredersen’s son who has rescued their children. Fredersen and the workers shake hands, solidifying peace in Metropolis and symbolizing the victory of mutual consent over tyranny. The message is overwhelmingly true: it is salvation and redemption that joins society together, not scapegoating. “There can be no understanding between the hand and the brain unless the heart acts as mediator,” Maria says. In a Calvary-haunted society, it must be argued that the heart cannot be anyone else other than Christ. Fritz Lang and Thea von Harbou managed to recognize the power of the Gospel narrative in binding society together, and so should we.

The Fatal Power of Politically Correct Speech

 

“I want to listen but fifty people have accused this person of being racist, so…” How many of us think this way? What happens when we stop the presumption of innocence for the accused? Something we hardly talk about today is repentance. “We have to call cancel culture to repentance,” says David Gornoski as he reflects on the story of persecutor turned apostle Paul and its significance in today’s culture of the politically correct. Listen to the full episode for David’s epic monologue–a call to end the persecution of our neighbors.

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