I was surprised. Perhaps you were too. He was one of my favorite actors. I'm not quite sure why I was surprised because we're all broken. All of us. Every last one. The accolades and show of Hollywood does not mean they are above reproach. But I was surprised.
More and more people are being named for doing unthinkable things. All of them having lost the plot on the sacredness of human life. They were living in a world where people are things to be consumed rather than respected, things to be taken rather than shown dignity. A world where power is to be wielded over the weak and vulnerable, where intimacy is something to be taken from another when your appetite arises rather than something given out of mutual love, where sex is merely an act rather than a divine joining of two spirits and bodies.
They were living out the story of evil. It's a story that speaks of greed, lust, desires, and appetites. It's based on the belief that people are worthless. It is the story history has told for centuries and millenia. Always the same. Different people, sometimes not quite as bad and sometimes worse. But it is the same story.
We have all watched TV shows and movies and we know the stories that the world is telling us. How is it that we are surprised that these powerful men were living out these stories in their life? We have watched the violence and lewdness, abuse and twisted sense of intimacy in entertainment. These shows are written, produced, directed, and approved by real live human beings. By sending these movies out to the public there is some stamp of approval that the content has been deemed appropriate for consumption. They are stories someone wants to be telling.
The stories we tell ourselves, that we consume, that we read and watch and attend to affect and shape our own story. As a teenager I loathed the "talk" from youth leaders and pastors about being careful of the content I consumed. They wanted me to censure my music and media intake because it was affecting my brain and soul. It had the power to twist the story I knew to be true. This attitude always seemed so sheltered and prudish to me.
I am beginning to see that it is actually wisdom. They knew, as I know now, that the content I consume is not without affect. You might be stronger than I am but I know it affects me. It affects my language, it affects what I think about throughout the day, it affects how I view the world around me, it affects how I treat others. It infiltrates my heart and keeps me distracted from the story I know to be true.
As Christmas approaches I am thinking about what story I am attending to. We are preparing to hear again the greatest story ever told. It speaks to the sanctity of human life not because of anything we have done but because we are His and created in His image. It is a story of the sacredness of the human body and soul because God incarnated himself to redeem us, robed Himself in broken flesh to heal every part of us. It is a story where the great lover calls us back to Himself and where the culmination of His love is laying down His life for all of us.
It is a story about light in the darkness. A story about dignity. A story about forgiveness, joy, hope, peace, the defeat of death and suffering. It is a story about great love. It is the story of Jesus.
I'll admit, I lose track of this story in life. I look the headlines, the story of our world, and blame God for it. I blame him for being absent. But that isn't His story. In fact, it is exactly why God incarnated himself, to tell a different story. He came to change the story. He has been anything but absent.
The story of Jesus has one significant conundrum - free will. Many have questioned this part. Why allow choice? Everyone of these Hollywood headlines come from choices made, terrible terrible choices. But choice allows freedom which is both wonderful and frightening.
We tell the events of Jesus life every year and it is an opportunity for me to revisit the story I know to be true and be reminded of its beauty. It's an opportunity to refocus my gaze on the story I have chosen, to shake off the parts of the world's story I am trying to meld with the story of Jesus. A season to embrace anew the little baby and let his tiny hands, the hands of God, touch my face and listen to the words of the angels singing in a distant field, "Do not be afraid. I bring you great news that will cause great joy for all the people ." (Luke 2:10)
It is a story that began before the beginning of time and it stretches out into eternity. It is the greatest love story of all time and there is a place for each one of us in it, if we choose it.