I’ll be playing catch-up on my Christmas film list. I only got out to see one of the movies out of the many I was hoping to catch during vacation. I think I made the right choice. . . . Valkyrie.
As I’ve said before, I have been haunted by the depth of evil that was allowed to advance in the country of my heritage – Germany – just 70-some years ago. How could these things be allowed to happen and continue to happen in a Reformation stronghold that also served as the home of so much good theological thought and reflection? I strongly believe that examining and pondering these realities is an exercise that leads to spiritual health and maturity. There is nothing new under the sun. It happened before Hitler. And, it will happen again. The human heart is polluted by sin. Perhaps my examination of history will not only deepen my understanding of and appreciation for the Advent of the Redeemer, but it will serve to caution me against giving the enemy a foothold in my own life.
Valkyrie is a riveting account of one of several internal plots to assassinate Hitler. The story follows the plot hatched and carried out by Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg and several of his military associates. As we all know, the plot fails. . . . but in doing right, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg does not.
The experience of viewing Valkyrie was enhanced by my vacation-reading of the best book I’ve ever read on sin – Cornelius Plantinga’s Not The Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin. I will be starting this one all over again very soon. Plantinga unpacks the nature, extent, and dynamics of our fallenness with deep theological understanding. The book is so intensely practical that it delivers multiple blows to one’s stomach. Over and over again I found myself stopping dead in my tracks while thinking “That’s me” and “That’s us.”
While at some point I hope to blog some of the books most insightful quotes, let me share some of what I read in the book’s last chapter, which ironically, I read on the same day as seeing Valkyrie. Plantinga is describing our bent to flee into the agentic state – a place we tend to go when we enter into a hierarchical structure held together by various levels of authority. “Once inside the structure, he no longer thinks of himself as a responsible moral subject but only as an agent of others. He comes to see himself not as a person but as an instrument, not as a center of moral responsibility but as a tool. Moreover, once shifted into an agentic state, he finds it remarkably hard to shift back. He is in too deep. He has too much momentum built up. Shifting into disobedience is at that point like trying to shift a car into reverse at thirty miles an hour. He finds himself bound to a morally deteriorating situation that he wants to abandon, but he cannot find a good clean place to break it off.” And so we shut our eyes to injustice and conform. Evil advances unabated. And so we have Nazi Germany. . . . except for the few who stood up and did what was right.
The words of the prophet Obadiah to Edom should make us think about our responsibility to be faithful and obedient first and foremost to The King who has called us to live out His Kingdom priorities: “Because of the violence you did to your close relatives in Israel, you will be filled with shame and destroyed forever. when they were invaded, you stood aloof, refusing to help them.”
On the way home from seeing Valkyrie, I had a nice discussion about evil and how it advances with my 16-year-old son and his friends. History is certainly worth watching.