Thursday, August 5, 2010

Room for the Wrath of God? Not in "Salt"

I felt like some escapist summer fare at the cineplex, so I took a couple of hours of vacation time and went to see Salt, which was purportedly a spy thriller.

Excrebable, is what it was. Ludicrously stupid. Redundantly violent. The worst movie I've seen in years.

The basest of behaviors, however, can point us back to first principles. For me, that means the Christian alternative to the practically non-stop fit of vengeance wrought by Angelina Jolie's preposterous character.

Cf. Rene Girard, in Violence and the Sacred: "To make a victim out of the guilty party is to play vengeance's role, to submit to the demands of violence."

Sounds like Angie's Evelyn Salt, alright, beholden to a vendetta. Yes, she does switch vendettas midway through the flick, changing a Russian, retro-Cold War vendetta for her own personal one. But it comes to much the same thing: trying to put an end to violence through violence, not recognizing, or perhaps not caring, that constant retribution creates a ceaseless cycle of reprisal and counter-reprisal.

The apostle Paul urged a different way in Romans 12:19: Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord."

Angie's scriptwriters probably didn't see the right box office equation in that view of the world. (Although Werner Herzog certainly got a lot of ironic mileage out of the "wrath of God" in his film Aquirre, der Zorn Gottes.)

Girard again: "By denying religion any basis in reality, by viewing it as a sort of bedtime story for children, we collaborate with violence in its game of deception."

By shelling out $6 for a late-afternoon matinee of Salt, was I collaborating with volence?

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