April 29, 2016
On Netflix's Daredevil series, guilt can be a good thing.
Daredevil is an interesting show that raises many interesting moral dilemmas. Daredevil tries to keep to a clear moral code in spite of the situations he faces and the compromises of others.
"We should understand guilt more along the lines of Daredevil’s priest: as something that urges us to keep going. As an obstacle to overcome."
I'm not so sure. When the priest says, "The only way to rid your heart of it is to correct your mistakes and keep going until amends are made … the guilt means your work is not yet finished," that doesn't sound like a Gospel-centered understanding of guilt at all. It sounds more like thinly veiled works righteousness, working to balance the cosmic scales of justice, earning back what you previously forfeited, etc. etc. A NT perspective on guilt, it seems to me, would challenge that kind of advice, because nothing we do can ever make the guilt go away. Only Christ can do that, and to the extend that we experience guilt post-redemption, it's but a devilish echo of the pride that makes works righteousness such an obstacle to salvation in the first place.
Personally, I think one of the things that makes the Daredevil/Punisher storylines so compelling is the way they draw out the insidious evil of pride even in the work of those who think they're doing good. I've met many people who want to accept Jesus, but they just feel like it's somehow nobler to keep trying to pay off their guilt after the fact. And I'm always struck by how arrogant this is. Deep down inside, we long to be worthy of God's favor. We don't WANT to be unworthy but counted worthy. We just want to be worthy. Outwardly it may seem like we're selflessly spending ourselves toward a good cause, but what we're really doing inwardly is diminishing the greatness of Christ's unmerited (and unmeritable) gift.
The issue is 'who we were created by God to be'.
We were not created to overcome our guilt by 'doing good deeds for God and hunamity'.
We were created to be 'found' in Jesus -- seeing the world, God, ourselves and others through New Covenent 'eyes' -- and doing the ministry of Jesus along with him daily as we are prompted and empowered by his Spirit.
Guilt is never the motivating factor -- rather divine, love, mercy and a vision of what can yet be.
Guilt -- properly addressed -- drives us deeper into intimacy with Jesus who continues to lift our guilt off us and secures it to the Cross.
In Reply to JKana (comment #28142)
Fair points made all around. Granted, I was binging the season in a day or so to prepare for this piece, but I did notice the utter failure by pride that you noted. In my view, Matt Murdock is in turns motivated by selflessness and selfishness.
While I think your points about guilt are, indeed, very valid (and indeed far more nuanced than my own; I'll admit this kind of writing is a bit beyond my ken), I still stand by my original assertions. Furthermore, the statement about guilt being "the soul's call to action" is not only thematically relevant to Daredevil as a character but also applies to the wider ethos of the Marvel Universe. Remember, this is the same universe where Spider-Man didn't turn to superheroics until his selfishness led to his uncle getting killed.
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