About 95% of the way through this video, I decided that I wasn’t going to post about it, because it touches on things about I’ve already written about. But the last 5% compelled me otherwise. The video has some questionable elements, so, if you’re pure of heart (or at work), you may want to skip to the summary:
For those who didn’t watch, the video begins with a flashback to one year ago, following the completion of Hilarity for Charity 2012. The organizers, including Seth Rogen and Dave Krumholtz, are congratulating each other on a job well done. At the end of the meeting, Dave Krumholtz tells Seth Rogen that, because he did so much good, he doesn’t have to do anything good for the rest of his life.
So, Seth Rogen responds to that encouragement by performing even kinder acts, right? Not exactly. Seth Rogen instead embarks on a crime spree, starting small by littering and failing to pick up after his pet and ending by making meth with Bryan Cranston and shooting Dave Krumholtz on at least three separate occasions. Good solid comedy.
The video ends with Seth Rogen coming to the organizational meeting for Hilarity for Charity 2013. Dave Krumholtz is there (with bandages), and Seth Rogen is eager to join them once again. Presumably so he can earn himself a free pass for another year.
What made me want to write about this video, though, was what Seth Rogen is wearing when he walks into the meeting. In addition to some type of fur coat, Seth Rogen is wearing a gigantic cross, nestled in his chest hair.
Clearly, the inclusion of the cross was for (cheap) comedic effect. It reflects the time-honored tradition of criminals becoming jailhouse converts. Such conversions are offensive to Christians and non-Christians alike. Christians object to the criminal claiming to be on the same terms as they are with God, after the criminal has been able to enjoy so many sins, a la the prodigal son-elder brother relationship. Non-Christians question the justness of a God who would reward a criminal in heaven.
Both objections are valid. But this aspect of Christianity is a feature, not an embarrassment or liability. Because, as Francis Spufford made so helpfully clear earlier this week, we are all sinners, even criminals if our inner lives are to be taken into account. None of us deserve what we’ve been given, much less a relationship with the living God. It is only the cross—the symbol that Seth Rogen plays for laughs—that addresses our human problem and allows us to bask in the freedom that salvation brings. No person, no Christian, is free from sin, so what good news it is that God invites us, through Jesus, to hide ourselves behind the cross and accept his sacrifice as our own. Without it, regardless of how many philanthropic fundraisers we organize, we are even more hopeless than Rogen’s character. We are the real charity cases, it turns out.
So, yes, no matter how many times you shoot Dave Krumholtz, you can hide yourself behind the cross. But please don’t shoot him at all.