I don’t watch a lot of television; rather, I’ve historically been more of a movie guy, i.e., with a film I can escape reality for a couple of hours, and come back to my life.
Episodic television requires more of a commitment. But with movies relying more and more on tent pole franchises, and big budget effects, it also provides a depth of character development unparalleled in the cinema. Which means to me that a show has to provide a great depth to its characters, offer stellar writing, and acting, to make it worth my time.
I’m a busy man–I have a family, a job that often requires more than forty hours per week, I’m an avid reader, and somewhere amongst that mix I’m trying to write stories of my own.
A show has to really stand out from the crowd to grab my attention.
Breaking Bad has been such a show. I know it’s debated among Christians whether a show ostensibly about the drug trade is worth the viewing. To my mind that’s akin to asking if the biblical Book of Judges is worth the reading. Yes, unsavory people do decidedly unsavory things.
Much like ourselves. What haven’t we–collectively, as a race, and individually–done in the service of self? In the case of Walter White, meth is merely a consequence of his greater sins: pride and egotism. Liberally sprinkled, of course, with an unhealthy dose of self-deception.
Who among us can’t identify with that? Who among hasn’t been guilty of thinking better of ourselves than we honestly ought? Like Walt, we tell ourselves, “I’m not so bad. I’m doing this for xxx.”
We are masters of self-justification. “I’m doing this for my family,” or, “I’m not as bad as [fill in the blank].” Thing is, God doesn’t grade on a sliding scale. If He did, then the law would have been enough. Our good deeds would outweigh the bad, and would be trodding on streets gold without need for an atoning sacrifice.
But He did say send Jesus, His son, to die. And the choice lies before us everyday. Accept, or reject? Surrender to Him, or continue trying to control–to game the system.
In fact, this is the very same choice which is set before Walter White week after week. Yet instead of life, he continuely chooses death. And every time he does, he dies a little more inside. C.S. Lewis once said something like every choice we make turns us more towards, or away, from God.
And as is often the case in real life, in Breaking Bad God seems to be the silent mover–the “still, small voice”–behind the scenes, laying these choices out at Walt’s feet. Laying down the lines, and watching, weeping, as he steps over every one. As in real life, we often don’t recognize Him, because He shows up wearing a human face, speaking in a human voice: Saul, Skylar, Jesse…
Your spouse, your kids, your friends, your employer.
What it comes down to is this: do you choose the way of control, or of surrender–death, or life? The choice is yours, Walter White. In surrender, yes, there is vulnerability. (It hurts to lay down one’s rights, one’s pride. But in the end, chances are one comes out alive).
But there is also freedom.
The way of control, not self-control, but of being controlling, of steam-rolling over other’s rights for the sake of self, of protecting and nurturing one’s pride, leads to only one place:
Before you are life and death–in every thought, moment, word, deed.
What do you choose?
“Choose you this day whom you will serve.”