Why so Serious?: The Joker and Christian Chaos

The Joker in The Dark Knight is portrayed by H...

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Christians should always be agents of chaos. They should be disruptive and constantly challenging the injustices around them.

In determining the exact nature of chaos, it is helpful to consider the sinister, yet persuasive words of Batman’s arch-nemesis, The Joker, in Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece, “The Dark Knight.” In this thrilling movie, The Joker (Health Ledger) is posing as a nurse so that he can talk to Harvey Dent, better known as Two Face, about why he is causing the chaos and panic in Gotham City. The Joker defines chaos almost perfectly for our purposes while Dent lies in the bed, burnt face and all, listening:

It’s the schemers who put you where you are. You were a schemer. You had plans. Look where it got you. I just did what I do best – I took your plan, and I turned it on itself. Look at what I’ve done to this city with a few drums of gas and couple of bullets. Nobody panics when the expected people get killed. Nobody panics when things go according to plan, even if the plan is horrifying. If I tell the press tomorrow a gangbanger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics. Because it’s all part of the plan. But when I say that one little old mayor will die, everybody loses their minds! Introduce a little anarchy, you upset the established order and everything becomes chaos. I’m an agent of Chaos. And you know the thing about Chaos, Harvey? It’s fair.

Christianity proposes a mode of living in which all those who show fidelity pose a threat to the old system. This system can be a racist perspective, an injustice law firm, or an overpowering government. At any rate and at whatever level this system operates, the Christian subject, when believing in the paradox of faith, becomes an agent of chaos. When you love others unconditionally, it shatters and turns the world on its head. It creates anarchy. Christians are called to upset the established order of things through love and undying fidelity to the Christian message.

For a clip of this scene from the actual movie, click here.

[1] The Dark Knight, DVD, directed by Christopher Nolan (Burbank, CA: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc, 2008).

Incarnation as Rupture: Anti-Gnosticism in the Gospel of John

Last year during my intermediate Biblical Greek class, I wrote a 40-page paper on the John 1:1-18. This passage is better known as the Prologue of John. The prologue contains 18 verses of, what I believe, to be some of the most fundamental and well-developed Christology in the New Testament.

Many scholars today want to portray the Gospel of John as a gnostic gospel – a gospel that tries to show that Jesus brings cosmic order and knowledge (gnosis) about what is missing in the world. Essentially, Jesus brings the salvation of knowledge and order to humanity who suffers the lack of order. After studying the Gospel of John, I am convinced that the Prologue is not gnostic in any way.

As I have been reading a lot lately on the incarnation and its implications by Peter Rollins, Alain Badiou, and Slavoj Zizek, I am further convinced that the Prologue is set against this idea of cosmic order. Let us take John 1:14 for example: “And the word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as the unique one from the father, full of grace and truth.” This is most likely the most popular scripture used to detail the incarnation – God becoming human. If we take this text seriously, does this verse entail fulfillment of the cosmic order, or a total destruction of it?

It seems to me that the incarnation is exactly the opposite of bringing order. Rather, When God becomes human there is a rupture of every structure and cosmic order. The unthinkable event happens and the world is turned on its head. To take it even farther, the incarnation culminated in God being crucified and dying. If God become human does not disrupt the order enough, then God actually dies. However, it does not stop there. There is an even greater disruption in the cosmic order when Jesus is resurrected. These three events – incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection – shatter any attempt to say that Jesus came to bring everything back into balance. No! Jesus came to bring division and to burn down every system of thought. This is what happens when we take John 1:14 seriously. God became human and nothing has ever been the same.