(Originally Published August 4th, 2005)
If you haven’t seen Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, you ought to. It is much more like Roald Dahl’s book than that Willy Wonka show with Gene Wilder. Mind you, the “classic” Willy Wonka is highly cool in his own way. But they are totally different things.
The Oompa Loompa songs are ripped straight out of the book. I remember when I first read the book being suprised that they didn’t sing “Oompa Loomp Doopity Doo” in the actual text. Instead, each song was based around the name of the child that had just gone too far.
There was only one thing that puzzled me. Charlie is set in England. The main character buys the candybar with the golden ticket using money that is definitely not American. But then, as soon as the ticket is out, one person offers him fifty dollars, and another offers him five-hundred dollars.
Dollars? What? No. Bad. Bad Tim Burton, bad.
Still, it is highly good. The dollars thing doesn’t affect it, really. It just… confused me. Yeah. That’s what it did.
Something struck me the other day when I was enjoying (for the first time) my very own copy of The Princess Bride, quite possibly the best movie I have ever seen. It’s the scene where Inigo has tracked down his father’s killer, and has him at his mercy. “Promise me anything I ask for!” he says.
“Anything. Whatever you want, I shall give it to you,” the terrified killer says.
“I want my father back you __ __ _ ____!”
In the book On a Pale Horse, Peirs Anthony tells the story of a man who becomes the incarnation of death. Normally, when people die, according to this book, they go straight to Heaven or straight to Hell, depending on the relative weights of good and evil deeds. As Thanatos, the main character is required to personally harvest the souls that are borderline, and sort them for shipment to the appropriate place.
The problem with this view is that evil is very specific. You aren’t weighing a theft against a donation to charity. You are dealing with a specific theft, and things are not right until the money is paid back, and the original owner is compensated for the time he didn’t have it. Donating millions of dollars to an unrelated charity is a nice thing to do, but it doesn’t address the specific crime.
Count Rugen may have saved Inigo’s life, or even the world, and it wouldn’t matter to Inigo. The specific crime was the death of Inigo’s father, and only Rugen’s death, or Inigo’s dad being restored to life, could address that specific crime. Actually, even Rugen’s death, without the restoration of Domingo Montoya, was still too weak a payment.
Oddly enough, Jesus not only died for our sins, but he promises to restore people to life as well. You see, God is the only one who can truely pay our debts. Maybe we can manage one or another to each other, but not all or even most. Besides that, each of us is guilty of scorning and mocking God, ignoring him, and failing to acknowledge him. Because of his infinite worth, to cast him away is an infinite crime. I consider abusing women to be a crime worthy of death, but to abuse God… It’s inconceivable. To cast him aside for other, unworthy lovers. To abandon him when all he’s done for us is out of love! Truely, we deserve the utter pits of Hell.
The author of How Good is Good Enough? compares our crime to the time his very young daughter carved her name in the paint of his very well-maintained car. Justice demanded that she pay for it, that she pay the three or four hundred dollars to fix the paint, and provide transportation while it was being fixed. There is no way she could be expected to do that, though. She could go upstairs and clean her room, but though that’s a nice gesture, it doesn’t address the problem.
And so God looks down on us and sees that our debt to him is one we simply cannot pay. And he says “I’ll pay it. I’ll have to die in agony and shame, but it doesn’t matter. You can’t possibly pay it or even understand it.
“I’ll pay it.”