Over the last two days I watched two of the 2011 academy award nominees for best documentary: “Restrepo” and “Inside Job”. (“Inside Job” took home the little gold statue.) “Restrepo” follows journalist cum documentarians Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington as they spend a year with a battalion of Army troops in the notoriously violent Korengal Walley in northern Afghanistan. (The film has even more poignancy given that Hetherington was killed last week whilst reporting on the war in Libya.) One thing sticks in my mind after watching the gritty reality of “Restrepo”: a year brings a few more dead soldiers, a few more dead civilians, and very little if any change.
With “Inside Job” the scene shifted from war-torn and impoverished Afghanistan to the audacious glass towers and pin striped suits of Wall Street. “Inside Job” succeeds in all the ways that Michael Moore’s “Capitalism: A Love Story” failed. Where Moore blamed “captialism” itself for the 2008 financial tsunami, “Inside Job” carefully and expertly lays out the real culprit: deregulation (coupled with an unnamed culprit: human nature). With deregulation banks began to offer high risk predatory loans to people who couldn’t afford them, investment banks made a mint off these toxic loans, and ratings agencies offered them ‘nudge nudge wink wink’ triple AAA ratings thereby setting the trap for average people to invest their life savings unawares. The whole thing comes off like a massive ponzi scheme of staggering scope, with a large number of prostitutes and cocaine thrown in for good measure (surely you didn’t think amoral investment bankers spent their evenings going on bike rides with the kids back in The Hamptons?).
To make matters worse, at the same time that people across the country were losing their jobs and their life savings, Wall Street insiders were coming away with millions. And this brings us to perhaps the most discouraging part of “Inside Job” with the realization that little has changed under the Obama administration. Of course the film ends with the two minute pep talk that we can indeed effect change. But pardon the viewer for looking at Wall Street with the same jaundiced eye of resignation that he views Afghanistan.
Afghanistan, Wall Street … and an empty tomb
Skeptics of Christianity often focus on the implausibility of a corpse returning to life. Ironically, those skeptics haven’t even begun to grapple with the extraordinary scope of the resurrection doctrine. The claim is not simply about the restoration of a beaten and broken body in Judea two thousand years ago. Even more incredibly, it is the claim that tied into that resurrection is the restoration of all things from the dusty valleys of Afghanistan to the concrete jungle of Wall Street. The resurrection is about the Kingdom of God coming in its fullness. It is about, as Tom Wright loves to say, setting the world to rights. Here is how Paul famously made the point in 1 Corinthians 15, a letter that dates only a couple decades after the resurrection event itself:
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.
Easter is not simply a celebration that God was in Christ. It is the confession that because God was and is in Christ, he will ultimately be all in all.
The restoration of a body whose spirit has departed? Incredible. The restoration of Taliban militants to shell-shocked American soldiers and of Wall Street bankers to the mechanic who was just evicted from his dream home? Priceless.