Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Who Watches the Watchmen? Pt. 2

This week, the theme has been betrayal, from Tara Markov to Adrian Veidt (with Dr. Manhatten's help), we've seen how painful and heart-wrenching it can be to find the person you trusted most has decided to betray you, to destroy you.

Real betrayal requires several things: intimacy (friend/lover), unwarranted reason (the victim is innocent) and lastly, power.

You cannot be harmed by the powerless. You cannot be killed by the weaponless.

I believe a lot of people use avatars on the web as their "masks" -not just to protect their privacy, but also to protect themselves from reprisals. On the web we can become intellectual and emotional terrorists, akin to angry motorists on a freeway, secure in our little world, able to attack with impunity ideologies we dislike.

Now "flame wars" are nothing new. If you've been on the web for three MINUTES, you know how ugly it can be. I think we will see more of this as the economy goes south.

Whence comes this rage and anger, this demeaning of human beings? Is it REALLY the circumstances? Or is it something inside that finally 'bubbles forth' to the surface?

In Moore's graphic novel and in the film, Watchmen, only one of the heroes truly hides his face completely: Rorshach. [See cool clip below: a fanboy made a practical inkblot-moving mask - not CGI!]

In fact, once he has 'broken' mentally and emotionally, he calls his mask, this shifting pattern of black and white, his face. "Where is my FACE?!" he shouts at his psychiatrist as he completes his escape from prison by recovering his uniform.

So the question is: why does Rorshach need his face? And why do we need to hide by walls and veils and icons and avatars?

Shame. Angry at the wounds we have, angry at the world that laid them on our doorstep, and angry at those who want to take from us our last bit of protection.

Rorshach has been abused and seen a lot of evil. This description fits a lot more human beings than we care to admit. He is far more understandable than we want him to be. His response to the vileness he has suffered is to make villains pay - horrifically.

But we have all experienced shame and humiliation and betrayal.

Where did it come from? Our first father and mother.

Genesis 2:25 - 3:15
The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"

The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' "

"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?"

He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid."

And he said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?"

The man said, "The woman you put here with me —she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it."

Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?"
The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."

So the LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this,
"Cursed are you above all the livestock
and all the wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
and you will eat dust
all the days of your life.

And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel."

Before you laugh too hard, please realize this mythical story has a strange scientific fact in it: it appears snakes once had legs. Also, psychiatrists will tell you shame is one of the most powerful driving force in the actions of men and women.

I believe we had it good, until we were betrayed by Satan. Note that the Tree is knowledge of good AND evil. Previously, everything in God's creation was good.

I think we have all tasted and eaten things in our lives that cause us to hide from God. I think we know we were wrong AFTER the fact, but just are too ashamed to admit it.

I think we spend a lot of time hiding who we are because of shame. I think we are powerless to overcome it - and be healed from our internal rage - until Another takes it away from us.

We were supposed to be the watchmen over God's creation. We were supposed to listen to Him above all other voices. Because we did not, we only want coverings and places to hide now.

We understand Rorshach because, like him, we have been humiliated and rejected.

But if Someone takes away that shame, that powerlessness, we are healed and empowered almost simultaneously.

Isaiah 6:1-10
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:
"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory."

At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

"Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty."

Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for."

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?"
And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"

He said, "Go and tell this people:
"'Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.'

Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull
and close their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed."

As Isaiah discovered the year his leader died, God can enter in -especially we are most depressed. Yet He IMMEDIATELY takes away our sin when we confess it, and in THAT freedom and release -

- well, you just can't be quiet anymore. "Here I am! Send ME!"

What a difference. The mask has come off, and the new life has begun.

Let Him touch you and remove your shame.


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