Andrew Klavan nails it (again) today in a 9-11 memorial essay over at Libertas. He ponders why contemporary moviemakers aren’t able to handle heroism as filmmakers used to:
…realism is mute when it comes to describing the best of what we can be, of what life can be. And this partially crippled form of communication is the prevailing style of serious cinema. You could almost say that we know a film is serious by how “realistic” it is. Conversely, when we see true faith and true heroism in movies, we feel we’re in the presence of rank sentimentalism, of powderpuff family entertainment. We feel that it must somehow be “unreal.”
I tried to decide what I’d post today, and had a hard time coming up with anything that would add much to the illumination available elsewhere. In the end I decided to repeat myself. A while back I posted my translation of a fable called “The Three Ages,” by the Norwegian writer Johan Borgen. It was first published in 1946, and intended to help his countrymen remember the lessons of the Nazi invasion and occupation.
Needless to say, the Norwegians have already forgotten it pretty much completely. But the lesson of the fable stands.
The Three Ages
The lion and the lamb were grazing side by side one day. The lamb said to the lion:
“What age do we actually live in, Lion?”
“Age?” said the lion. “We are alive, isn’t that enough? Anyway, the age we live in is always our age; otherwise we aren’t alive.”
The lamb thought that over a bit as they went along and nibbled grass in the bottom of a little valley.
“You are wise, Lion,” he said, “and of course you are right in that the age we live in is our age—at least for us. What I meant was that I’ve always heard that there are three ages: a past age, which was beautiful, but cruel; a present age, which is merely cruel; and finally a future age which will be so peaceful that the lion and the lamb will graze side by side. I heard it from a wise old ram, and that was why I believed that this is the future age.
Then the lion bit the lamb’s head off and said:
“Now that you remind me of it, I guess it’s the past age after all.”
Jesus said in Matthew 24:23-27, “At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘Three he is!’ do not believe it…. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (NIV).
The plain purpose of this passage, of course, is to warn believes about false messiahs who still show up fairly regularly to say, “I’m Christ Himself and I’ve come back in secret.”
But I think there might be a secondary meaning. It’s just plain reckless to imagine that the Kingdom of God has come already, that we have brought it about through our own wisdom and moral progress. We’re still in the present age, our enemies don’t just want a hug, and the emperor does not bear the sword in vain.