But this week I am having two, not one, celebrations of my ordination, and I think God the Father is taking some time to show me how far I have come from the man I used to be. As I said, I reaped what I sowed: within one year of hurting my friends, two other friends got rid of me and alienated me from a dear family. Trust me, what goes around, comes around!
Hence, in God's sovereignty, He uses what I grew up with and loved - comics - to reveal things about myself. And that gets us back to the Joker.
The Joker has always been a laughing murdering psychopath, and many different actors have portrayed him over the years: Caesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, Mark Hamill (voice), and now Heath Ledger (who's tapped to get a posthumous Oscar). He's incapable of love or kindness. Underlying that enormous grin is anger and bitterness, a wounded ego that will never forgive the world or God for what has happened to him.
Isn't that the way we all are, deep down, until we discover the love of God?
I mean, we like the Joker, don't we? He is our favorite villain, the very best foil for the grimly ascetic dark knight. If the Batman were a Puritan, the Joker would be a Hedonist. The Batman deals with his pain by taking on the demanding disciplines of perfection; the Joker by abandoning all rules of society and ethics, mocking every institution and moral with a boisterous enmity between himself and humanity. But down deep we know he's a calculating evil; we can call him insane but what he truly is is compassionless. His mind works just fine - its his heart that's dark and twisted. And that drives all his actions. (Here's a clip to prove that, with Mark Hamill's wonderful voice acting):
Have you ever noticed what makes great comedy? A great comedian? How they touch on our areas of pain. You see comedy is a releaser - it permits you to talk, albeit humorously, about our pain and this is usually from miscommunication, false hopes, shattered expectations. And when we "get the joke" or laugh at the punchline, it is because we understand emotionally and intuitively this wretched estate of a fallen world.
That's why I know the Joker is not insane. He's evil, but not insane.
He gets the joke. And wants the whole world to "get it" with him.
How do you fight that nihilistic logic? Don't appeal to humanity, it won't fly: history has proven again and again those who hope in governments or organized religions have consistently found interesting ways of killing off the defenseless and disenfranchised.
You have to go beyond logic. You do indeed have to have faith.
But it must be a reasonable faith - it cannot contradict what we have learned about Nature and Life; it must agree that 1) the World is full of pain and evil, and 2) we are clueless and powerless to stop it.
Someone has to love us and that Someone has to understand we are not lovable. We have failed again and again to experience love so we can grant it to others.
But God demonstrates His love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
In other words, while we were IN the problem, we were also THE problem, and so God solved the issue by making a blood sacrifice. He paid for all the broken Laws of life with Jesus.
Or in other words, while we were evil, God showed us love.
Faith in Jesus Christ appropriates that love. Admitting we are nearly mad with the problems of this world gets us to the place of confession, and finally, reluctantly we cry out "Save me, Lord!"
The relief and joy that follows is supernatural. I know. I have experienced it.
That is why I am not the Joker today.
God always gets the last laugh.
And the punchline?
"I'd already paid for you. You didn't have to run away."
The jokes on us.