504 Java Profile

504 Java Profile
Two of my favorite things

Monday, May 7, 2012

On Conflict and the Avengers

I am both content and conflicted today.  I am content in that my daughter is home from college for a month before pursuing singing and dancing employment in Indiana, my son is back in college, enrolled at LSU Shreveport while working and living there.  I am a contented Dad watching my kids step into adulthood.

Just last night, I went with my wife and daughter to see the Avengers which is a Marvel comics conglomeration brought to the big screen. In between eating an entire bag of popcorn (as I convinced myself that popcorn is "free" on a diet), I just sighed in contentment as I sat between wife and daughter.

One of the memorable takeaway quotes was from Tony Stark (Iron Man, good guy) who said to Loki (megalomaniac, bad guy) as things were about to get better for the good guys, "There is no throne, there is no version of this where you come out on top! Maybe your army will come, maybe it's too much for us, but it's all on you! Because if we can't protect the Earth, you can be [word left out] sure we'll avenge it!"

That is where the conflict comes in.  I liked the movie because the guys I wanted to win did in fact win.  And if they didn't win, they would exact revenge. The man beside my wife was so into it that he stated (loudly) the obvious for the back third of the theater: "The Hulk just beat that man's..."  well you get where he was going. The big green guy with anger issues was seen as an ally to the audience so we cheered him as he beat up the bad guy.  Our guy wins.  

I am conflicted because of conflict.  The paper this morning (yes, I still read a real newspaper) told of conflict in our city council (which is politics as usual in New Orleans).  I spoke last week at a university where some issues regarding the president's vision have created quite the conversation. I read of the distrust between state conventions and our convention missions entities.  As a nation, we cannot decide which political candidate is less toxic than the other one. 

When I put my introspective hat on and look at my "side" in some of these "conflicts" I am aware that my pride--the unwillingness to admit that I might be wrong about something--is at the core.  Pride is manifested in a desire for power and too often it comes at the expense of others. If I am to climb the ladder, I must either push you off of it or at least be able to demonstrate that I am a couple of rungs higher than you.  If I am a leader, I can make decisions that serve me and my buddies and I make them "because I can." 

If I have a position, then there cannot be one inch or ounce of compromise because to concede anything is to give up everything.  If I can find a verse or a teaching of Jesus to proof text my argument, I will ignore Paul and the Old Testament on my way to doing so.  My stubbornness digs in and I will confess to anyone who reads this that it is simply a matter of pride--I refuse to accept that I could be arrogant, biased, or just wrong.

I also liked an exchange between Natasha and Thor in which Thor feels like he should defend his brother (Loki). Thor says, "He's my brother." Agent Natasha Romanoff says, "He killed 80 people in 2 days. Thor responds, "He's adopted." When confronted with an inconvenient truth, we put distance between ourselves and it. We hang on to our point of view, even if the facts or common sense do not support it.

I am reminded of an old youth ministry talk illustration called, "The Monkey Trap."  Whether it ever really happened or not, the story goes that jungle monkeys can be trapped because they won't let go. The hunters hollow out a coconut and chain it to a tree.  The only opening in the coconut is a small hole, just large enough for a monkey to squeeze a hand in.  A shiny object, usually candy is placed inside the coconut and when the monkey clinches the candy in the palm of its little primate hand, the fist cannot come back through the hole in the coconut and the monkey is trapped.  The monkey is trapped because he won't let go of the object he desires to hold.

I think we get trapped when we are unreasonable about holding on.  I would never suggest that we compromise on a carefully-considered biblical position.  But life isn't a comic book. God allows the messiness of our world so we can demonstrate the love or our Redeemer in a world that is messed up, while reading and learning and holding fast to the truth of His Word.