Friday, May 4, 2012

Deconstructing the Scandal

Like many of our contemporaries Travis and I have been following the new TV series Scandal. It is now our standing Thursday in-house date night. The dinner dishes are done. Travis has prayed with the kids and gotten them tucked safely and snugly into their beds. Then the two of us cozy up on the sofa and tune in to what is an intriguing contrivance of twists and turns. We are fascinated…

What is up with her team? The seemingly tormented Huck? Harrison, a former inside trader who seems to also have a audio-genic mind? The mousey Quinn who had no identity before 2008? Stephen? And Abby who brings just the right amount of *off* to complete the crew? Interesting indeed.

And the preview for next week’s show. Oh. My. Goodness. It was titillating (pun intended), complete with a parental advisory warning. Quite provocative stuff…

Now you must know that I am tracking hard with this *romance* between Olivia and the president (small p on purpose). I mean that is the way this thing is being played. We have been led to believe that she and the president have been gettin' it on. I think it was in episode 2 that the president actually told Liv that he loved her. Even tho he had a “fling” with Amanda Tanner, and (not to mention) he is MARRIED. It is Olivia that he really loves. The flotus (his wife) even seems to KNOW that the president has been involved with Olivia but is otherwise disinterested and/or unbothered by this. Wow.

I have had this theory for many years now that everything we do and believe has its roots in some basic, fundamental need of our heart. There is always a “need behind the deed.” Just as our bodies need and crave food and drink, there is a hunger and thirst within every heart, every soul, every life. If I take a physical drink, I was most likely thirsty, although perhaps WHAT I drank was not actually what I was thirsting for or even what my body really needed. This, I think, is one of the biggest challenges of this life, knowing what it is we are really after, what it is we really desire, what our hearts are calling for.

Who’s got the Power? and The reality – and recognition-- of the Counterfeit

A big draw I see in Scandal is the power play between Olivia and others. Liv is larger than life. She is the FIXER. She can make all things right. I mean she has direct access to the president for goodness sake. One time last year when Travis and I were at the movies a line in a trailer tattooed itself onto my psyche. A female character said, “Women get to say if there will be sex. But men get to say if there will be a relationship.” I have thought about the truth of that statement so often. The woman holds the final say on physical intimacy but the man holds the final say over the companionship. I call this the balance of power. Generally speaking men want sex and women want relationship. “He’s got what she wants, she’s got what he wants…” (In the words of the O'Jays, “They were made for each other…”) A man and a woman fit together like parts of a two piece puzzle. It is the essence of our being. An intelligent design. Altho the story is still unfolding, Liv and the president (who is MARRIED- to someone else) seem to make the perfect power team. Their onscreen chemistry is as potent as their positions. Powerful stuff indeed.

The real life problem we face is that since the beginning of time humanity has had to contend with counterfeits. Fake power brokers--- substitutes, imitations, stand-ins, knock offs. All because of a little transaction between a snake (the spoiler) and the first man and woman. You know the story. We had REAL fellowship with our Creator. Intimate, face to face, naked and unashamed, enthralling connection. But we gave it up for a little knowledge (of good and evil). For the chance at becoming imitation gods (Genesis 3:5). We traded our true image bearing lives in for a parody.

Thousands of years later people are still battling to choose between fact and fiction. Truth and lie. Right and wrong. Accuracy and error. We never get a break from this. Every transaction in life has to be assessed and weighed for its truth capacity. Years ago when Travis worked for the Federal Reserve Bank, in order to identify counterfeits he would study REAL bills. You have to know what’s real in order to detect the fake.

Life is so not about having all the answers. It is more about asking the RIGHT questions. Why did Olivia get involved with the president? What is an adulteress/adulterer really after? What is the need behind the deed? Would a president actually risk his own life and the safety of his country for a few minutes with his *forbidden* love? That is the lure (and lie) of adultery. That a person would throw all caution to the wind for a few stolen moments -- that someone would risk everything important to them for a chance to be with you. It is the ULTIMATE counterfeit. Did you catch the look on Liv’s face as she opened the door and found the president of the united states standing at her door? She had to be thinking, “Certainly I must matter if you would do something so extreme. Surely I am important. He really loves me…”

The most profound deception.

We love a love story, especially these kinds of forbidden love stories because deep down we know that love is costly. And that is the point at which we have to be able to discern the hoax. The cost and sacrifice of true love takes the form of honor, integrity, a genuine concern for the welfare of the other, truth, a self-less-ness that brings good. Forbidden (read: counterfeit) love is costly in that it is only concerned for itself-- producing much destruction, devastation and even death. Amanda Tanner is dead. Liv may try to tell herself that Amanda was only the president’s fling, but if he would so easily *do* his Aide, what does that make Liv? She has to ask herself that question. (A friend of a friend on Facebook asked, “Why does Olivia always look like she is ready to throw up?” She does, doesn’t she?) Perhaps she already has. And then she needs to realize that the president loves only himself. The whole purpose of marriage and the true love within it is to establish a relationship that includes the TWO spouses and EXCLUDES everyone else. It’s not love that sustains the commitment; it’s commitment that sustains the love. The president has proven that he is incapable of the pure, sacrificial love that says, “I am committed to only you. I only have eyes for you.” He could change but it is highly unlikely.

The adulterer’s motive – the need behind the deed – is ALWAYS selfish. But here’s the deal: When a woman goes for (or after) another woman’s husband what she is really desiring is her own Husband. (Isaiah 54:5) [Stop. Read the verse and let that last sentence set. ] She may pretend to be a progressive woman, she may even profess to *want* to be the ‘sideline event’ in a married man’s life but I submit to you that she is self-deceived. She has accepted substitute as real. Her heart and soul are crying out for a Man who will give up everything for her. The hu(man) she is using (and being used by) is an imitation. A fake. A phony. A counterfeit. A fantasy.

I think that is one reason we, men and women, are loving Scandal. It is a tale of the desperate heart within each of us. The heart that desires to be loved, cared for and connected to something powerful. It is a testimony to the call of our souls for something (Someone) bigger than this life.

There is a real and true SCANDALOUS Love out there. One Who did give up EVERYTHING to be with us (Philippians 2), One Who has all the Power, a FIXER who makes all things right. Unlike the beautiful, powerful, onscreen lovers Olivia and Fitzpatrick, we had (have) NOTHING to offer Him. And He loved us anyway. He loves us just because. His self-sacrificing love is pure, pleasing, abundant, life-giving, Un-adulterated. There is no fallout of pain and destruction, no need for schemes and deception, when He loves you.

Our minds enjoy the stuff of fairy tales but our hearts are calling for true love. I’m going to keep watching Scandal, unless and until the Lord tells me to stop. I just say, don’t ever settle for the substitutes. Don't get it twisted. May we not be fooled.

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