Isn’t it hard to hear the truth come from a hateful, abusive mouth? It can sound like a lie just from the context of who speaks it.
In the first few episodes of Netflix and Marvel’s Luke Cage season two, the most Christian things spoken came from Luke’s abusive father, James Lucas. We had heard in the first season how Rev. Lucas mistreated his wife, committed adultery, and favored the son of the other woman over Luke. He was a minister of self-righteousness, who beat people with the Bible and knew nothing of its power.
At the beginning of the second season, we heard him practicing a sermon that asks whether Cage serves the Lord or himself. When he runs into Luke on the street, he just wants to tie a leash around his neck, demanding the respect due a father though he has undermined that relationship for many years. Luke tells his girlfriend Claire he cannot reconcile with his father because he blamed Luke for his mother’s illness and death. He didn’t believe Luke was innocent of the crime that sent him to prison. He seemed to hate his great strength now. Luke has too many wounds to heal to return.
This sets up a character theme for these men–forgiveness. I just wish it had gone another step further.
When the violence escalates, Luke and the Rev come together out of necessity and finally share their sins. The Rev owns up to at least some of his past and Luke does his part as well. They forgive each other, but the Christian language disappears. Their forgiveness stays on a human level. Even with a prayer for safety at the beginning of a night of hiding, talk of faith seems to be watered down so as not upset the science-fiction. The Rev speaks of “science, magic, God” as if to blur each those things together.
It would have been so easy to have the Rev see the truth that sets us free in that Bible he professes to love and put a few words of real redemption in his mouth.
(Image of Luke Cage from IMDb.com)