Thursday, August 28, 2008

Not Wicked, Just Misunderstood

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to see the musical Wicked on Broadway. I must confess that I’ve always viewed Broadway with a certain degree of suspicion, viewing its productions as dolled-up vehicles for liberal propaganda. I’m sorry to report that my suspicions were, in some ways, confirmed. However, it would be incorrect to label Wicked a mere vehicle, though the play is most definitely the product of post-modern liberal thinking. It blurs the distinction between good and evil (wickedness) and questions (denies) the possibility of truth.

Wicked is the back-story, if you will, to The Wizard of Oz, told from the perspective of the two witches, G(a)linda the Good Witch of the North and Elfaba the Wicked Witch of the West. Anyone who has seen Wizard assumes that the Wicked Witch is wicked, but Wicked begins with the question asked of Glinda “Why does wickedness happen?” to which she replies “That’s a good question; one that many people find confusifying. Are people born wicked, or do they have wickedness thrust upon them?” This is probably the most post-modern question possible because either answer releases the subject from moral accountability. If someone is “born” that way, then how can they be held accountable for that, they had no choice. If “it” was thrust upon them, then they had no choice in that either. So the post-modern experiment goes. Post-modernism assumes that there is no objective, absolute truth, so all we are left with is truth(s) as we perceive it (them) – pure, unabashed relativism.

Wicked is really the story of how Elfaba became known as the Wicked Witch. From the very beginning the opening question is answered – she was born in a certain way, she had no choice. But even with that, there was nothing particularly wicked about Elfaba, she was simply different – she was green. So the other possible answer to the question is given as well, Elfaba had the perception of wickedness thrust upon her by extenuating circumstances. The audience had to conclude that it wasn’t Elfaba’s fault, that she was not morally accountable – she wasn’t wicked, she was just misunderstood.

This is not a new idea in theater or literature. Mary Shelley explored this theme in Frankenstein; Nietzsche exhorted us to move Beyond Good and Evil. What does it mean to be good or evil (wicked)? Who has the objectivity to make that judgment? These are post-modern questions born of the fundamental assumption that there is no objective truth. Now this may be the source of an enjoyable philosophical exchange, but it is also the source of much mischievous chicanery. What is at stake is moral accountability, for according to this worldview there is no standard or rule, and no God, by which actions can be objectively judged. Is homosexuality a sin? How can it be, he was born that way? Is abortion a sin? How can it be, the circumstances were thrust upon her?

Of course, it is a lie, and there is Truth, and His Name is Jesus the Christ – I am the Way and the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). God has spoken in regard to homosexuality, abortion, and all sin. God has clearly delineated between good and evil. He, and His Word is the measure by which all things are judged – He alone is good. The perfect Law of God condemns all so that the perfect grace of God may forgive all in Jesus Christ. We are all wicked and fall short of glory of God, but in Christ Jesus we are all forgiven, restored.

All in all, Wicked was a delightful production – well acted, great set, wonderful music, and an enjoyable and thought-provoking story. But it denies the existence of Truth, so it has embraced the possibility of two lies, therefore existing in the post-modern plain of uncertainty. Perhaps it was born that way? Or was this philosophy thrust upon it? I do not mourn for Wicked, but I will pray for those deceived by its lies.

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