Christians have never embraced blood sacrifice. We have not offered chickens or slain goats, let alone sacrificed our firstborn children to God. Indeed, the very idea of blood sacrifice is abhorrent to us, evoking an almost involuntary visceral reaction. It sends chills down our spines and stirs deep within us a strong impulse to act against such a horrific practice.
Matthew’s Gospel has blood spattered all over it. The story opens “in the time of King Herod” (2:1), the tyrant about whom even the Romans joked, “Better Herod’s hus than his huios” (luckier to be Herod’s pig than one of his sons). Of the latter, nearly all died by their father’s orders, lest any supplant him.
By the time the credits began to roll for Lars and the Real Girl, the movie was at the head of my list of top movies of 2007. Writer Nancy Oliver and director Craig Gillespie deliver a sensitive portrait of Lars Lindstrom (Ryan Gosling), a young man so gripped by shyness that the only companion he dares relate to is a life-size silicon doll.
Great stories touch on many themes and give us a long list of things that they could be said to be “about.” As I tell my students, if you think Moby-Dick is just about whale- hunting, you weren’t paying attention.
Imagine someone who, because he is not driven by fear of death, is able to undergo an absolutely typical lynching at human hands and to do so deliberately—showing that death, rather than being definitive and powerful, is no more than a frightening mirage. Christ calls the bluff of the lynching, enabling humans to be less driven by fear and a desire for revenge.