Friday, December 28, 2012

GUILE


Red Deer Advocate, May 24th, 2008. Michael J. Fox has done some comedic acting that we have no issue with. Back to the Future seems to have been a harmless enough act. Unfortunately, some of this man’s other achievements are not so praiseworthy. On one sitcom he glorified greed; on another he exalted indecency. Should an educational institution not reserve its honors for persons who teach good morals? 

Michael J. Fox’s sitcom sins are intimately connected with one that we tend to overlook. When sins like greed and indecency are acted out with humor, and then go unchecked by a corrective context, they tend to be approved of by the audience. That’s what gets accomplished by sitcoms like Family Ties and Spin City. Teaching bad morals in this way is a form of treachery, deceit, guile. The audience is not just entertained; it is beguiled.

Guile can be so much a part of a sinner’s routine that it begins to look like a sinful disposition. For years, Michael J. Fox took his medication in punctilio fashion in order to hide his disease. Only when the disease could no longer be concealed did he go public as an advocate for it. Standing before Congress, then, again looking out for number one, he presented the case for Parkinson’s. But for this act, he ‘forgot’ to take his medicine. So first, being ashamed of his disease, he tricked his fans into thinking he was healthy. Then, when he could no longer hide the stigmatizing condition, he shamelessly made himself appear sicker than he could have looked in order to charm pennies from the public purse. How beguiling.

Not surprisingly, guile (being trickery for the sake of self) would go so far as to wound others for its own welfare. Mr. Fox not only campaigns for money, but for embryonic stem cell research too. Embryos are persons in the bud. Should healthy persons be destroyed to fix persons who are sick? Are actors more valuable than cells that could become so much more? 

We tend to especially excuse the sins of the sick and wounded. But does sickness or injury make sinning less damnable? No. God’s Law is not so lax. No excuse for sin will be accepted by God, not even Parkinson’s. We need a Saviour, then. Both the healthy and the sick, Michael J. Fox and everyone else, ought to look unto Jesus in prayer. Ask him, whoever you are, for what the Spirit can give you so that you may receive, as Nathanael did, a commendation for lack of guile. “Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” (John 1.47.) There is an honor to be in receipt of! To be commended by Jesus must be, if anything is, a signpost toward salvation; perhaps it is even a sign that salvation is obtained already.

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