Friday, September 7, 2012

Why I'm appreciating Breaking Bad

Due to the recommendation of several folks, and the opportunity provided by Netflix, my wife and I have been enjoying the series Breaking Bad. While I must admit that the plot of the show initially turned me off (and I guess it should have, I mean a chemistry teacher with terminal cancer turns into a Meth dealer? ) Breaking Bad regularly attempts to deal with honest questions facing humanity. 

For instance, the main character Walt's brother-in-law just happens to be a DEA agent. When he offers Walt a Cuban cigar at his baby shower, Walt responds, "Isn't this illegal?" The DEA simply laughs it off and tells him, "The forbidden fruit sometimes tastes the sweetest." Then Walt, the chemistry teacher/meth dealer calls him on his inconsistency, "Where do we draw the line? What if marijuana is illegal this year and not next year? Seems arbitrary how we draw lines?"

And for the unbeliever who rejects any overarching standard-and I realize plenty of unbelievers live inconsistently actually believing in some standard-Walt does raise a good point. When you take God out of the picture, lines become merely whimsical suggestions.

Yet another scene in a different episode actually reveals a suppressed God-centered worldview. Remember, mankind can only suppress his/her knowledge for so long. Usually you'll see evidences of it bubbling over. Walt and his chemistry partner put together a breakdown of the chemicals comprising the human body. This scene is beautifully juxtaposed with a moral dilemma Walt faces: what to do with the drug dealer in his basement. Should he kill him or let him go, with the potential that "Crazy 8" could come back and kill his family? The actual list of pros and cons he makes just doesn't cut it. He needs something more.

So the directors switch back to the chemical reconstruction scene, where Walt confusedly asks, "What is missing? Why are we only at 99%?" His partner responds, "What is missing is the soul." Now Walt has his answer. The human is more than chemicals, but endowed with a soul, therefore it would be morally wrong to simply kill this drug dealer.

I haven't even seen the whole first season. And thanks to an article on comparing Walt to Apple's Steve Jobbs, I'm aware that Walt's character becomes darker and darker as the seasons progress. Nevertheless, despite Walt's ongoing descent into darkness, Breaking Bad has raised topics which challenge the Christian to go back to God's Word and find solid answers to the world's fluctuating morality. So far, at least in this first season, it has proved devotional and may open evangelistic doors in the future.

Caution: Breaking Bad is dark and deals with drugs, so don't watch it if you're unable or unwilling to question, to filter, to genuinely reflect, and proactively "take every thought captive" to discern what is good, true, and beautiful.

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