Sin as the Crack in Space and Time

Imagine the universe is broken. Every where you go, in every time, there is this crack in the universe, breaking it further and further, breaking lives, breaking people, pulling loved ones from each other.

This doesn’t sound too far off, does it? There seems to be something—or many things—that make the world a dark, difficult place to live.

Tuesday I wrote about the universal Story written across the universe. The story I’ve mentioned there is present in season 5 of Doctor Who, and it is also the Story of Christ.

In Christianity, this brokenness is called sin. Sin exists in everywhere, in everything. No matter where you are in the world, you will see it.

Doctor Who tells the story of this crack. We start with it’s insatiability.

The story of sin in Christianity is the story of this insatiable, destructive force. Sacrificial laws in the Old Testament reveal this insatiability by requiring ongoing cycles of sacrifices. None of these sacrifices can quench sin. In the New Testament, Jesus offers himself as a sacrifice that can quench sin; he is able to do so since he is God, and this sacrifice is sufficient to close this crack in the universe and fulfill all the  Old Testament laws set to palliate it.

In Doctor Who, we see a similar pattern. The crack across Amy Pond’s bedroom wall is present on the crashed spaceship Byzantium. Several of the characters step into the crack and disappear; the crack devours them and their entire history. After they enter the crack, they were never born; the crack is hungry and destructive. If it is not satisfied, it will continue to pull apart the universe in this way.

In the same episode,  “Flesh and Stone,” we discover that only the most complex space-time event can satisfy the crack and close it. An army of weeping angels calculates that if the Doctor threw himself in, the crack would close. The Doctor, however, allows the gravity produced by the ship to drain, causing the planet’s gravity to pull the entire army of angels into the crack. Angels are complicated space-time events, and an army of them sates the crack: for now.

The angels in the crack are a palliative sacrifice; they are not able to satisfy the crack completely. It isn’t long before the crack returns, devours Rory, and the Doctor discovers what could satisfy the crack forever: his TARDIS.

Continue with Part 2 and Part 3 of this blog series.



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A New Look at Sin

So often we talk about sin in light of our actions. Is doing such-and-such action a sin?

Limiting sin to actions, however, misses an important reality. Sin is not something that pops up whenever we make a bad choice; it is itself a presence in the universe that ought never to have been. Sin is the presence of evil in the world; sin is death and destruction, sin is injustice, sin is lack of mercy.

It may be easier (or better) to view sin as a thing in itself which becomes manifest within certain actions. We can participate in sin that already exists, but we cannot create new instances of sin. And part of that sin exists already within us; it influences our actions, it blinds our aspirations, it disparages our hope and faith and love.

To say all have sinned is to say all are subject to temptations, subject to limited views of ourselves, of others, and our capacities. We are all subject to this brokenness that influences toward hatred, toward cynicism, bitterness and despair.

When we view sin this way, Christ dying for our sin looks entirely new: His death was not only to pay for our actions, but to rid our lives of this force that breaks us down, batters us from the inside out, and causes desperation, injustice and destruction across the globe.

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The Gospel According to Dexter: Part III

My last two posts on Dexter pointed out two ways in which Dexter is a slave: He is a slave to the needs and appetite of his Dark Passenger which took hold of him when he was born in blood; And he is a slave to the Code of Harry, who taught him to manage his Dark Passenger with exacting precision.

To show how these relate to the Gospel, I will quote Paul, replacing references to sin with Dark Passenger, and references to the law with the Code. (If I were cleverer, I would rewrite the passage in the style of Dexter’s voice-overs.)

“We know that the Code is holy. But I am not. I have been sold to be a slave of the Dark Passenger. I don’t understand what I do. I don’t do what I want to do. Instead, I do what I hate to do. I do what I don’t want to do. So I agree that the Code is good. As it is, I am no longer the one who does these things. It is the Dark Passenger living in me that does them.

“I know there is nothing good in my Dark Passenger. I want to do what is good, but I can’t. I don’t do the good things I want to do. I keep on doing the evil things I don’t want to do. I do what I don’t want to do. But I am not really the one who is doing it. It is the Dark Passenger living in me.

“… Who will save me from this Dark Passenger that brings death to my body?”

—Romans 7:14-20, 24 NIrV

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The Gospel According to Dexter: Part II

Harry Morgan found young Dexter drenched in his mother’s blood and raised Dexter as his own child. As a homicide detective, Harry knew the earliest signs of homicidal tendencies and recognized them in his foster son. He also knew that many guilty murderers walk free.

When Harry’s admonitions to Dexter to stop killing neighborhood animals proved ineffective, Harry determined to address Dexter’s Dark Passenger with a new plan: Harry taught Dexter to use his need to kill to do the most possible good. Harry believed that murderers who walked away, acquitted by some fluke of the system deserved death. Dexter willingly accommodated Harry’s sense of justice.

After years of training—how to find a victim, how to determine their guilt, how to hunt and stalk them, how to prepare the crime scene and dispose of the body without leaving evidence—Dexter began killing according to the Code of Harry. Many years after Harry’s death, Dexter still adheres to the precise rules.

The rules are the only way to keep his Dark Passenger in check.

As Dexter progresses through life, marries, has children, he begins to see the limits to the code. The code cannot save him from his Dark Passenger, only safely quell its needs. But he cannot free himself and his appetite endangers his family.

Dexter is as much a slave to the code as he is to his Dark Passenger.

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The Gospel According to Dexter: Part I

Dexter Morgan kills people. He hunts and stalks his prey, abducts them to his meticulously prepared kill-room where he exacts his punishment upon them. But it is not only punishment: For Dexter, killing is an appetite he must quell at regular intervals. He must kill, must draw the final blood.

Some call him a vigilante—his antics are similar in some respects to superheroes who hunt down the bad guys and rid the world of their evil—but he does not kill for the sake of eradicating evil, rather to satisfy a deep and gnawing hunger.

So where is the Gospel here? There are several parts.

In Season One, Dexter, along with viewers, discovers his brutal past. When he was a toddler, his mother was abducted and murdered by drug lords with a chain saw; Dexter witnessed the entire episode. Several days later, police found him sitting in a pool of his mother’s blood. Though for many years he does not remember the incident, it engendered in him an inexorable obsession with blood and death.

Upon researching his past, discovering—and remembering—the incident, he understands that he was “born in blood.” The incident was a birth into his present nature, one of unquenchable bloodthirst. He refers to this appetite as his Dark Passenger.

Different people use different names for the appetites we discover within ourselves: Dexter calls it his Dark Passenger, and the church refers to it as original sin. We have all been born in blood; we all have appetites for indecorous activities that grow like weeds among our desire to do and be good. These weeds are our Dark Passengers.

We were simply born this way, born in blood. We were born with complete and good nature that has to fight against a Dark Passenger for light and breath. This is not something we choose; indeed, we call it human nature.