Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Crucible

Over the weekend I came across a movie on HBO's free preview weekend. The movie was The Crucible. The Crucible is a play that was written by Arthur Miller about the Salem Witch Trials. The witch trials were a dark time in the United States around 1692. Arthur Miller wrote the play as a commentary of sorts on the current events of his time. The major news of his day has retroactively been dubbed the Second Red Scare. During about 1947/8 to 1957/8 the United States entered into a time of wild accusations and fear over the rise of communism in the world. Neighbor turned against neighbor and people accused their closest friends of being "red" out of fear for their own self and power. Miller's commentary in the play relates the story of a group of girls who are caught in the woods dancing around a fire by the town minister. The youngest girl, who is the minister's daughter, lapses into a catatonic state. The town jumps to the conclusion that the devil is at foot in the town and they are dealing with witches. Fearing for her own self, the eldest girl, Abigal Williams, incites the girls to blame women in the town they don't like of witchcraft. Eventually, Abigal takes the opportunity to accuse the wife of a man she is in love with of witchcraft thinking he will turn to her when his wife is out of the way. The fear of the town and the spirit of revenge drove the town to do incideous things. Use the above links to read the full story of the play and history.

The nature of the play struck a chord with me. At its most simple point the play was about people allowing fear of the unknown to rule life and the tendency of mankind to label things in an extreme manner that he doesn't know or agree with. These actions are little more then excertions of authoritarion control over others. How far are we from Salem today? The general rule of debate today is to label your opponent something negative in order to discredit their position regardless of the actual nature of their view. I have heard this exact thing taught in a seminary classroom. We feel the freedom to attach a stigma, such as liberal; moderate; fundamentalist; legalist; right-wing; left-wing, to a person simply because he doesn't interpret particular passages in the way we do. We create a modern day doctrinal witch hunt. Why is that? Why do we feel the need to discredit a person so completely only because he interprets a verse/s differently? Why attack the character of a man over a non-essential? The slandering of a fellow Christian brother or sister in the name of doctrinal holiness is still slander. It only reveals the great weakness of our own character. The path to righteousness in God's eyes is not traversed by the oppression of those who disagree with you. It is ungodly, and it is definitely unbiblical to do such a thing.

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