Gotham City Is a Caricature of Biblical Babylon

The dark knight rises and Gotham's dark night deepens.

Gotham is a virtual world that sprang into horrid actuality as alleged shooter James Holmes gave flesh and breath to his avatar, the Joker.

Survivors, some costumed in the attire of Gotham, ran into the dark night shrouding Aurora, Colorado, and emerged from the virtual world into hard concrete, shrill sirens, squawking police radios, and the cold metallic microphones of reporters seeking eye-witness sound bites describing the world's latest atrocity.

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The survivors had escaped the virtual Gotham on the big screen only to run into a rock-hard parable spun by the prince of darkness himself. Until the Joker incarnate popped into the movie-house the celluloid Gotham was preferable because it disappeared when the film ran out.

Without the incarnation of evil, the late-night moviegoers would have taken their costumed selves to eateries, bars, and clubs, and talked about the chilling fiction they had watched, and the way it all seemed so real it was as if they were there.

Except they were there, horribly so.

"Gloomy, dark, self-enclosed, claustrophobic," is the way reviewer Thomas S. Hibbs described the vision of Gotham presented by director Christopher Nolan. In the third film of the trilogy, there's more daylight, but Gotham is still a gloomy place, Hibbs wrote in National Review.

British critic Jenny McCartney didn't see much light in Gotham. As she watched Dark Knight Rising, "the greatest surprise of all – even for me, after eight years spent working as a film critic-has been the sustained level of intensely sadistic brutality throughout the film," she wrote, in the UK publication, The Telegraph.

Gotham is to the contemporary world what a caricature is to a living person's likeness: identifying features – Bob Hope's nose, Kelsey Grammer's "Frazier" forehead – that are exaggerations of the real thing.

Gotham is the caricature of "Babylon," identified in the Bible Book of Revelation as the world system seeking to function without God, and usually in defiance of Him. In the Gotham of the wonderfully camp Batman and Robin played by Adam West and Burt Ward in the 1960s, we didn't know about virtual worlds and avatars. It was all a hoot punctuated by "Bam!" and "Sock!" callouts festooning the cartoon-like "fights" in which the worst that happened was Joker's hair getting mussed, or the Penguin's top hat sent askew. No one bled. There were no pencils jabbing out people's eyes, no bombs stuffed into their pants.

And no one blasting a theater audience with guns designed for major combat.

As alleged shooter Holmes shows, Gotham-Babylon has its own physics. Gravity and entropy operate in the glum world. If Gotham-Babylon is a spiritual realm with direct impact on the physical world, then the gravity-entropy is spiritual in nature with the physical manifestation impacting human behavior.

A Richard Dawkins or Stephen Hawking would decry me, a mere layperson with respect to physics writing about it. However, they have no problems penning whole tomes on theology without ever sitting in a single class on apologetics, systematic theology, or maybe even a basic doctrines workshop. So I shall write of the physics of Gotham-Babylon seen in the Aurora tragedy.

Gravity is mass attracting mass. From the perspective of our position on earth, the pull is downward. Entropy is the acceleration of the decline, moving faster and faster until the awful crash that destroys everything.

If James Holmes was the Joker incarnate, what began the descent that led to the slaughter in the Aurora theater? At some point, the weight of the killer's personal sin was attracted by the mass of absolute evil, and a chaotic spiral began until, under the force of spiritual entropy, disintegration and chaos took over.

This is what St. Paul is warning about when he writes, "don't give place to the devil." (Ephesians 4:27) That "place" in James Holmes, in me and you can grow into a density that is captured by the mass of absolute evil spun into reality by the first rebel, Lucifer.

St. Paul also understands the macrocosmic implications of sin-evil, and writes in Romans 8 that the whole creation is caught in the spiritual gravity and entropy of decay, disintegration, and death.

So blame the Aurora tragedy on the Batman movie, the warped psychology of a world-weary young man, too much sugar, too much exposure to video games and computerized carnage, an excess of alcohol and-or drugs, and mental illness, but until we recognize the reality of evil and the demonic that seeds itself in our fallen nature until we turn ourselves over to the vortex of chaos, there is no answer.

Dark Gotham doesn't need Batman. It needs a Savior. Only He can overcome the gravitational pull downward and the entropic acceleration to Hell.

And bring light to gloomy Gotham.

Wallace Henley, a former Birmingham News staff writer, was an aide in the Nixon White House, and congressional chief of staff. He is a teaching pastor at Second Baptist Church, Houston, Texas. He is a regular contributor to The Christian Post.

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