A few weeks ago I listened to a Robcast about the “lie of redemptive violence.” In this podcast, Rob Bell explains how this idea of redemptive violence–that violence in retaliation for wrong-doing can be justified–is deep in our society…and even in our theology. But it’s really a myth, and he goes on to talk about how the “Jesus narrative” provides a powerful alternative to this myth of redemptive violence.
So I had this podcast in my mind and was pondering this concept of redemptive violence, when I had a brief window in my regular schedule of television shows and was looking for something to watch. So (don’t judge me) I settled on the final season of the show 24. In this final season, counter-terrorism expert Jack Bauer is called on once again to save the U.S. from the threat of a terrorist attack. Jack Bauer spends the next 24 hours trying to neutralize the threat in order to preserve peace. And, of course, in quality mediocre television drama fashion, lots of people are tortured and killed in the race against time. And at the last minute, the president of the United States has to decide what lines can or cannot be crossed for the sake of a signed document called a ‘peace treaty’. To the show’s credit, it does not tie all the pieces together nicely at the end, and the whole thing ends with a bit of a question about who exactly ‘won’ after all that fighting and revenge.