Tuesday, June 21, 2011

peter rollins and the brave little traitor

By and large, most of the stories Rollins writes in his clever little book have an element of the disturbing in them, like creepy little kids in horror movies. I don't know if "The Mission of Judas" is necessarily the most disturbing, but, really, given that name and the contents, it's definitely up there. This story and commentary can be found on pp. 100-103.

So, as the title says, this story is about Judas. He's having a bit of a nap, and having a dream. He's dreaming that he's going to betray Jesus, Jesus is going to die, and he himself is going to commit suicide over what he has done. But he also sees Christ's resurrection and ascension, how Jesus' message would somehow bring down Rome and change the lives of many people. Judas awakens, recalls Jesus' words about His death, as recorded in John 12:23-25, and realizes what he is suppose to do, what he is destined to do. He's suppose to betray Jesus, and insure that the things in his vision happen.

As Rollins himself explains his commentary...

Here we are led to conceive of Judas as one of the most courageous figures in the Bible, as one who betrayed Christ, not because of a love for money or because he had been overpowered by some demonic influence, but rather because he knew what would result from that betrayal.

By understanding the complexity of the betrayal, we are led to consider whether certain acts that might appear to be fundamentally against God could actually be gestures of fidelity to God.

So, let's take this way of thinking to other areas, shall we? Join me, please, if you have the stomach for it. Because you may need to breathe into a bag before this is over.

Let's image it's the 1940s, Europe. Imagine there's a man who really loves the Jewish people. He loves them so much, that he works tirelessly to hand individuals and families of Jewish people over to Nazi Gestapo goons. He helps to herd them into overcrowded train cars, watches as they are hered naked into gas chambers, then listens as the gas is put into the chambers and the people die horribly. He feels bad, of course, but he knows that only in doing this can a greater good be accomplished.

Now, let's imagine some parents, who have several children. They love their children, so in order to make sure the children have a bright future and are good people, they withhold food from their children to the point of starvation, keep them chained to radiators, routinely abuse them physically and mentally, sell their children so others can do very bad things to them, and pretty much do all the things good parents don't do to their children. But they know that, if they do these horrible things to their children, one will become a doctor who cures cancer, one will become an astronaut who leads the first manned expedition to Mars, one will become a Senator. Of course, one deals with psychological problems from the abuse well into adulthood, and another becomes a homeless guy who drowns himself in alcohol and drugs and dies namelessly in an alley, but that's just the price that must be paid for so much good.

I hope you've enjoyed those two scenarios as little as I have. And don't feel ashamed if you did have to breath into a bag.

But I hope, as well, that these scenarios have shown the completely evil premise behind Rollins' evil little story.

Judas was no hero. He was not courageous. He was a traitor. He got greedy, and there was a dark spiritual influence on him too, and he betrayed our Lord into the hands of those who killed Him. It is irresponsible, nay even evil, for Rollins to try to make Judas into a hero.

But is it not telling the Rollins tries to make a traitor into a hero? Is it not revealing that Rollins tries to say that Judas' betrayal was some kind of an act of fidelity to God? Such a thing seems to say more about Rollins than about anyone else--the desire to make the traitor into the hero, the desire to make an act of betrayal an act of faith, the want and even need to make a greedy and demonic act into one of staggering bravery.

Perhaps Rollins is less interested in justifying Judas than in justifying himself.

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