Hey have you ever watched the Christopher Nolan Batman movies? That’s the 3 part series that came out before the simply atrocious Batman v Superman. (Can I get an amen!?)
If you’ve watched the first one ‘Batman Begins’ you’ll know that it obviously retells the story of Bruce Wayne’s childhood including the death of his parents. It seems a key lesson that he has to learn as a child (and we hear repeated again later in the movie) is the reason for falling.
Now Batman’s Gotham, is essentially a study of how and if any good can remain in a Godless world. (Seriously, I dare you to try and find one religious reference in any of the 3 Nolan Batman films, including at various funerals depicted throughout.) Batman is the humanistic savior. This is also why he’s a natural enemy of Superman who is effectively a god.
In fact, the only thing powerful enough to (spoiler alert…but you wont care) to stop Batman from striking the killer blow to Superman in the latest movie is discovering Superman’s ‘humanity’. You’ll know what I mean if you’ve seen it.
Back to the Nolan movies. There is a key scene that Bruce has a flash back to, when he falls into the cave full of bats, his father finds him and as he clasps his hand rescuing him, he says to young Bruce: “Why do we fall?” as Bruce trembles before him, Thomas Wayne answers his own question:
“So we can learn to pick ourselves up again.“
This becomes the defining philosophy of Bruce’s/Batman’s life. It is also the solitary source of any idea of hope to/in a world without God.
It also implies that there’s no guarantee that we’ll always be able to pick ourselves up again. It’s a vacuous hope because it’s completely contingent upon the subject in need of the hope in the first place.
And you know what? Take it from someone who works with them; kids know that it doesn’t, it hasn’t and it’s not working.
Now for something completely different. (Sort of)
For the person of faith, the perplexing question becomes “Why does God let me fall.” This can be really disconcerting, especially if you’ve heard nothing but “God wants to give you a life of victory,” or stuff like that from Christian teachers.
I’m reading thru (slowly) N.T. Wright’s ‘The Resurrection of the Son of God.’ In the midst of his discussion on the concept of Resurrection in post-biblical Judaism, Wright makes a comment about the shift in rabbinical teaching emphases that rather struck me:
“The two crises of AD70 and AD135 brought major changes as the rabbis adjusted to living in a world where social and political revolution against pagan overlordship became unthinkable – where crushing defeat of two large and popular revolts had forced a change from a kingdom-focus to a Torah focus, from (more or less) politics to piety.” (emphasis mine)
Let me translate: getting their butts whipped by Rome despite their belief in a God more powerful than the Roman empire, brought the thinkers off their pedestals and onto their knees.
They did less spruking and a bit more searching of the Scriptures. Less blaming, more praying.
What if this was the very first step in the God leading the Jewish nation back to himself? Who knows, but whatever the case may be, I think it is enormously applicable to now.
It’s funny how often a renewal in my prayer life, in my reliance upon God immediately seems to follow an occasion where something has blown up in my face. Nothing humbles us like when we really stuff up, and it is the meek whom shall inherit the earth.
So if you believe a God who is always going to bail you out….and he doesn’t when you put your foot in it, one of two things are going to happen:
You’ll either get back your knees in prayer, waiting on him to lift you up….
Or you’ll become Batman.
That is, you’ll conclude that he’s failed you, or he doesn’t exists and for the rest of your life it will be upon you to pick yourself up.
Good luck with that.
But here’s the wonderful thing. Even when a story seeks to eliminate God, it can’t.
The most ironic thing about that scene in the Nolan Movies where Bruce Wayne learns to pick himself up is this:
In that moment, it’s his Father lifting him out of the cave
Despite the humanistic secular dialogue, what is actually being pictured on the screen is straight out of God’s visual playbook.
Maybe you feel alone right now, or maybe you feel like you got to where you were, or recovered from a stuff-up due to your own hard work. Look again. Tune out from the dialogue from the world and simply behold, look, long and hard and you just might find that He is and has been with you always.(Matt 28:20b)
Why do we fall?
So that we can learn to trust God to pick us up again.