16 February 2013

The Noble Criminal

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John 18:40--"Give use Barabbas!"

There are many in this country today who have watched as the drama surrounding the hunt for Christopher Dorner has unfolded. And while many have been hoping for and anticipating his capture, there has been also, curiously, a small crowd of voices which has been applauding his actions and hoping for his exoneration. The purpose of this post is not to debate the merits of the case or to argue for his guilt or innocence. Any comments in that vein will be deleted as quickly as possible. You can argue that somewhere else.

The point I want to make is this: this approving crowd should not surprise us. Jesus Himself said "Men love darkness rather than light" (John 3:19). It has been that way ever since sin entered the world. We have an early example from Mt Sinai. While Moses was up on the mount, the people were wantonly carousing at the foot of the mountain in a drunken orgy worshipping the golden calf--while God was speaking to Moses the very Law these people were corrupting!

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But we don't have to go back that far in time to see why it shouldn't surprise us that people are actually supporting this murderer (OK, alleged murderer). Think back to 1994. A white
Ford Bronco carrying OJ Simpson was leading LAPD on a low-speed chase through Los Angeles. People were lined up on bridges over the freeway to watch. Were these people hoping that a fugitive from the law would be caught and brought to justice? No. They were encouraging this fugitive to continue running from the law. (Again, not debating OJ's guilt or innocence. Just sayin').

And there is another trend. Not necessarily new, but it does seem to be more prevalent over the last several years. That is the concept of what I call "The Noble Criminal". You see him (or her) in many movies these days. The team of bank robbers who are only robbing the bank to right some dastardly wrong or because one of the character's loved ones is dying (usually due to the greed of the bank president or some other such embodiment of evil). Examples of these are movies like "Ocean's 11" or "Tower Heist".

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Then we have movies where the drug dealer or the prostitute or...well, you name it. Whatever the criminal enterprise, there are probably many, many movies glamorizing and glorifying whatever criminal you can think of. The most recent and most egregious (to me anyway) example of this was "The Sopranos". OK, let's get this straight. The mobster--the head of a Mafia family, a man who did not hesitate to kill anyone who crossed him--he was the good guy. The police and FBI who were trying to catch him--they were the bad guys. And people wonder why there are folks supporting Christopher Dorner. It is because we have a culture where The Noble Criminal is looked upon as a hero while those who are charged with apprehending him are evil.

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But these are really no different than the crowd that stood at the Praetorium that day as Pontius Pilate stood before the teeming crowd, asking them which man they would have released. Would they have Christ--the innocent Lamb of God, the Man who had committed no sin, the Man who was the perfect embodiment of righteousness and godly perfection? Or would they have Barabbas--a murderous villain, a man who had most likely committed crimes so vile and horrible the writers of Sacred Writ dared not even name them?

"Give us Barabbas!!"

To see that man's will is inclined toward evil, simply read the headlines. Many would rather have Barabbas than Christ.

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