Friday, January 15, 2010

The Double Life

Over the last few months, I’ve enjoyed watching the show’s Dexter’s first four seasons. Each season has a distinctive overall theme on top of its basic premise. For those of you unawares, the premise of the show involves a serial killer (Dexter) who lives by a strict code of only killing other killers. After witnessing a gruesome murder in his childhood, Dexter’s father recognizes the effect this experience has on him and directs Dexter’s dark nature to be aimed at other “bad” guys.

In addition to being a serial killer, Dexter also serves as a boyfriend, stand-in father, brother, and blood splatter specialist for the Miami Police Department. Dexter’s special hobby is not revealed to anyone.

On the surface, the premise of the show sounds like your typical “twist” in a series or movie plot line, fed to the consumer for quick digestion. But what I enjoy about the show is its focus not on big plot twists but rather on the philosophical ramifications of Dexter’s bizarre life. And that’s why I enjoy Dexter and not CSI. (A preview of season 1 is located at the bottom of this blogpost)

An example of said philosophical ramifications lies within the basic premise of the show, a killer who also lives a “normal life.” Obviously, there’s a huge dichotomy there, a dichotomy that does two main things.

First thing, it recognizes the disparity between death and life. I’m not just talking about a beating heart and a stalled one. Dexter’s killings are often followed by mornings making breakfast for the kids (or some other normal life behavior). Dexter feels at home when killing but then has to act normal in order to avoid suspicions. Over time though, Dexter finds a certain enjoyment in the “normal.” But can the two co-exist?

That leads to the second thing, the fallen nature of Dexter, something (according to Christian doctrine) we all possess. I just love how exaggerated his fallen nature is. He has a dark past that he channels in a twisted, positive way. And these gruesome murders are all done over a quirky, peppy score. Well besides being taken aback, my immediate response is: what kind of double life do I currently live? What kind of heinous crime do I keep hidden? It’s a response universal, in nature.

Universal enough that I’m going to relate it to a sermon taught from my church home (Hope Community!) this past December. My pastor, Kevin Butcher, taught on Jesus’ birth bringing light to the world. In a Christmas message dissimilar to most I’ve heard, he highlighted the effects light has on sin/darkness/etc. It eradicates it. There’s no room for the two of them. That shame often keeps us from sharing or confessing but that Jesus is bigger than shame.

Commonly, while watching Dexter, I think to myself, “why doesn’t he just confess his dark nature and get it over with!? Stop playing games! (And while you’re at it, let Jesus cover the darkness).” While that probably won’t happen anytime in season 5, I’m content that in my own life I’ve got a light that is bigger than the darkness. The double life can mysteriously turn singular.

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