Ok, I’m a little late to the game. I spent some time this past week watching the first several episodes of “The Man in the High Castle.” This is the story of covert operations involving the movement of films (1962 technology, and it was about books in the novel that is the basis for the series) that came from an alternate dimension to The Man. It is an underground movement.
I find it rather fascinating. Technically, it is well-produced and visually captivating. The script is sound but perhaps under-scripted as there seems to be a dependence on visual impact. Still, the dialogue contributes to the story line quite well.
One piece of note regarding one character’s attempt to purchase a KJV Bible. The statement (approximately) is made that “just because it’s not illegal doesn’t make it legal.” It’s language like that which reflects the power of a dominating state over even the most minor private transactions. It also speaks to the power of the state over personal beliefs.
The series presents a post-apocalyptic vision coupled with an alternative universe. Sort of like “The Matrix” and certain Star Trek episodes combined. Their world is presented as a variation of ours. Many people live happy, contented lives. They are not concerned about the power of the state for they are doing nothing wrong. They ignore the past wrongs that were done in order to win the war. They celebrate “VA” (“Victory over America”) completely oblivious to the full story of what actually happened.
In this are lessons for us. One of the obvious lessons is to be aware of our past and deal with it. That’s an important lesson and a clear subtext of the series.
Theologically and sociologically it’s important. This is a world without hope. Gone (for them as for us) is the optimism of postmillennial theology. That movement, dominant through WWI, was the foundation for the Christian hope that a better world might be within reach. This theological movement lasted about three centuries and is today a minority position. But Christians were not the only ones who held this sentiment. There is a secular movement that picked up on the sentiment of a better world. This was early progressivism and it gave us such things as women’s suffrage, prohibition, and do-gooders. But just as the theology lost favor so also did the sentiment. Progressivism no long has a purpose to its hope. Today’s progressive movement is generally about government power even while employing the rhetoric of hope. The movement lost all theological a half-century ago. Today it’s just a Marxist movement.
This is the struggle of a desperate people, but for what? They oppose the powerful state but there is little discussion of freedom or purpose. Part of the dialogue is that the veterans of the war have forgotten what they were fighting for and the young never knew.
Theirs is a very secular world. There is some Jewishness as a sub-plot. There is some homosexuality as another. There is no church (not as far as I’ve viewed), evangelical, liberal, or otherwise. (This is consistent with Nazi principles which many ignore. They were building a secular state. All SS marriages were state marriages, not church marriages.)
I’m looking forward to viewing further episodes. It says a great deal about our society today, that lack of hope which dominates our world. Post-apocalyptic movies and shows do not help the situation. The church has a message of hope for the world. But we must also proceed with actions of hope. Let us be more than talking heads, heads on sticks, people who speak fine sentiments but do not act. The early church was known for its extreme charity. Now is the time. If not now, when?