The Dark Noir of Evil (Lent 30, 2017)

Most people know John 3:16 exists if only from end zone placards.  The rest of this passage where Nicodemus comes to Jesus in the dark of night presents a clear case and a verdict.  If it were filmed, I’d picture it as film noir, but don’t worry, Jesus wouldn’t be chain-smoking with some femme fatale. 

Continuing to John 3:19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”

“Nothing good happens after midnight” is a saying many people know.  Most acknowledge there’s an element of truth there even if Nicodemus came at night to hear the truth and see the light.  Jesus tells us who loves darkness and hanging out in the noir places of the world, but the light of truth will expose everything in the end.  I’m going to tell a longer version of our fun fact today since it spoke to me in conjunction with today’s passage.  If Light: There’s Nothing Like It is held as contrast to the noir of the world, there’s a spiritual insight we can gain from it.

Fun Fact of Light: Film Noir, the dark side of American film that began after WWII and replaced the cheery side of Hollywood in the 1940sFilm Site explains, A wide range of films reflected the resultant tensions and insecurities of the time period, and counter-balanced the optimism of Hollywood’s musicals and comedies. Fear, mistrust, bleakness, loss of innocence, despair and paranoia are readily evident in noir, reflecting the ‘chilly’ Cold War period when the threat of nuclear annihilation was ever-present. The criminal, violent, misogynistic, hard-boiled, or greedy perspectives of anti-heroes in film noir were a metaphoric symptom of society’s evils, with a strong undercurrent of moral conflict, purposelessness and sense of injustice.”

Roger Ebert wrote a column identifying ten characteristics of film noir including

2. A movie which at no time misleads you into thinking there is going to be a happy ending.

3. Locations that reek of the night, of shadows, of alleys, of the back doors of fancy places, of apartment buildings with a high turnover rate, of taxi drivers and bartenders who have seen it all…

8. Movies either shot in black and white, or feeling like they were…

10. The most American film genre, because no society could have created a world so filled with doom, fate, fear and betrayal, unless it were essentially naïve and optimistic.

Screen Junkies gets to the heart of the spiritual aspect:  “Film noir movies have fatalistic attitudes. A character will often feel like their life is pre-ordained and that free will is an illusion. This film noir characteristic was influenced by the international conflicts of the time and the powerlessness to avoid them many Americans felt.

Fatalism is expressed by one transgression that spirals out of control.  The average citizen character makes a mistake that snowballs into much greater problems. Every attempt at correction just makes everything worse. This is often called a spider web of deceit in film noir. It can suggest hysteria and panic.

Voice-overs are common. This is due to the popularity of Freudian thought at the time. The voice-over narration film noir characteristic represents psychological reflection and introspection by a character.”

For Further Thought:

  • How does a transgression get out of control?  Read James 1:13-15 for thoughts.
  • How does faith in Christ promise a happy ending?  What can change the world’s fatalism to the hope of Christ?
  • Do people living in a pattern of evil stop for reflection and introspection?  Why or why not?  How does the concept of noir seem like the world we live in? Read Isaiah 53:6 and 2 Timothy 3:1-9 for insight

Thank You, Lord Jesus, that hope can be ours because of what You did in reconciling us…even while we were still sinners.  It is Your death, and Your death only, that can change our circumstances and powerlessness.  We praise You for Your victory over death!  Hallelujah for your Triumphal Entry and steadfastness through the Cross and all the way to the tomb!  Thank You, for conquering death and giving us eternal hope of glory in Your presence!  Amen.

Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on April 3, 2017

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