I tried to watch Alice in Wonderland last night but Johnny Depp freaked me out. I don’t recall the original being so dark. Which brings me to my thought today: are these writers looking for the dark side in a story or simply creating the evil to make a buck?
The big word in publishing today, particularly in Young Adult (Junior High through High School) literature is dysphoria. It’s the angst-shrouded life of people facing destruction and possible extinction. Whereas past generations longed for happy endings, in these stories the endings project a future of misery and collapse. Even though the good guys may win, the planet or their city or their family is a pile of debris. They’ve won but only barely and with little to show for it. Bruised and beaten, but they manage a faint smile as ending credits roll.
I don’t understand the delight in such horror. My mind doesn’t have room for such darkness. I have enough trouble with the darkness of my own sin to add world-wide collapse.
Where is the banner of the humanist movement that touted mankind was getting better and better as it evolved into a more civilized society? That was the propaganda we were fed growing up. Or do these books and movies reveal the greater reality of where life is heading by continuing to oppose a righteous God? Maybe they sense God’s displeasure and express it through aliens, machines or dysfunctional psychotics.
Star Wars showed us the power and appeal of the dark side. We watched Anakin change from a cute little boy to a monster of omnipotent extreme. The invitation was always there, just on the other side of anger. We knew he’d get there. We just had to watch three episodes to see it happen.
Is dysphoria a real dimension? There is a darkness that hovers just on the other side of light bent on stealing, killing and destroying, so are writers sensing the battle that exists within the spiritual realm? Do they believe more in a biblical Armageddon than they want to admit?
Harry Potter has to be a dark story. You can’t deal with the issue of the ultimate battle with good and evil as you might a water balloon fight in the back yard. In K.P.’s mind the raging that goes on within that realm just beyond our view is powerfully destructive. Even in its imaginary world you sense this dark reality.
If there is any hope at all in these stories it is a glimmer reserved for the final battle, a slight chance that beyond all odds good might win. I prefer an abiding sense of an on-going belief that there is a God working out His plans, plans for our welfare, our future, our hope. Instead I find people who have to do the best they can to fight for the preservation of life, mere survival, and the life they have left is virtually destroyed. The promise Jesus made of an abundant life doesn’t have a chance within dysphoria.
I cannot live in anticipation of that misery. I live with absolute confidence that we can find joy within a God who works all things together for good and accomplishes what concerns us. He is beyond the shattered hopelessness of that darkness. In Him is light and that light is the hope of man.