After Ferguson: America Must Abandon “Sick Christianity” at Ease With Violence

The most important movie to watch at this moment in America, especially for Christians, is After Earth, starring Will Smith and his son Jaden. The 2013 science-fiction movie was panned by critics and spent just a few weeks in the public eye, but it captures perfectly our current situation.

It is the story of a father and son stranded together on an extremely dangerous planet, Earth. Long ago abandoned by humanity, this future Earth is now overrun with outsized predators, toxic plants, and wildly unstable weather. The ship that carried them has crash landed and the elder Smith’s character lies in the ship’s shattered hull with broken bones unable to move. From that captive position he charges his son with an almost impossible task: to traverse miles of the most dangerous terrain imaginable and activate the beacon that will call for help. There is one complicating factor, however. The son will not be alone on his journey. He will be hunted by a creature skilled at killing.
The father knows this predator. Indeed the father became a famous general precisely because of his ability to defeat the creature, which is blind but hunts by smelling fear. The father’s unique ability is to silence his fear, but the imperiled son has only his father’s voice to guide him as he journeys toward the beacon. There are two memorable pieces of wisdom he gives to his son: “Root yourself in this present moment!” and “Danger is real, but fear is a choice.”

After Earth is not about race, but it is. After Earth is not about America, but it is. It’s a movie about Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin and an almost endless host of others (from Jordan Davis to Renisha McBride to Amadou Diallo). It’s about a real place we as Americans inhabit that is permeated with violence and fear, and unfortunately we Christians have yet to reckon seriously with this place and our own culpability in its creation. Our present moment demands we face the horror of the social world we help to sustain.



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