Thursday, October 25, 2007

Flashpoint: Action Heroes without a License to Kill

One of the things I appreciate about "Flashpoint" is the use of non-lethal defensive technology by the underground church. From tazer gloves to quick acting tranquilizer rounds the muscle arm of The Body fights the good fight without trying to kill people.

In one of the early scenes of the book the Kids see one of the warriors lay low a a gang of "Nero's" with guns blazing. They are horrified and don't want to be a part of that type of group until they learn that the rounds were tranquilizer rounds intended to stop but not kill or permanently harm the others.

This runs counter to the way the world at large (and even sad to say many Christians) view defending oneself. Lethal weapons are often the first choice. I don't have any numbers, but I'm sure the amount of money spent each year developing non-lethal weapons by the worlds governments is but a small fraction of that spent developing non-lethal ones.

Certainly, some progress has been made. Many of Frank's gadgets are based on current technology. Tazers have been around for years. Tranquilizer darts have been used on animals, but they have so far been too slow-working to immobilize a criminal before they can do harm. However, one wonders how much time and money has actually been spent trying to develop such a drug.

Ironically, some people actually view with suspicion the use of non-lethal technology. There is a thread over at the National Novel Writing Month science fiction forum about non-lethal weapons, but it is assumed that such weapons would be developed not by a humane government trying to control violence without giving into it, but by a repressive government trying to control a workforce of unwilling workers without killing them. When I point out that repressive governments usually resort to just killing a few people in front of everyone else to bring them into line and not worry about subtilties of non-lethal weapons, I get convoluted arguments about why they would find them more useful than a free society.

Perhaps it is a consequence of the fall that we tend to be violent by nature. Yet, as Christians we are called to transcend our nature and embrace the nature of Christ. Okay, I can hear the leaves of the Bibles flipping back to all those battles in the Old Testament. But folks, keep flipping. We don't live under the Old Covenant. That doesn't mean that it isn't useful for us. Paul said it is like a tutor/nanny/babysitter who gets us ready to actually go to school. However, our model for life is Jesus and not Joshua.

When creating Christian heroes, we need to consider how one acts virtuously under the worst conditions. Recently, I've heard disturbing arguments in favor of the use of torture even by human rights advocates which claim, in essence, that in extreme situations, ethics are no longer relevant. The only ethic is that of success. But, ethics and morality are all about the extreme situations. When things are going well, it is easy to act virtuously. It's when things do get extreme that we need our ethical boundaries, when we need our morality to stop us from crossing the line into the realms of evil using the justification that the ends justify the means.

Such is the spirit of our age. As writers, we don't need to transmit that message by creating "holy" but essentially amoral heroes willing to do anything to win the day.

There is also one other disturbing trend in literature and the popular culture (even among some Christian writers). It's a tendency to write off as irredeemable our villains. I'm not sure, with the exception of a demon or the devil himself, that we have the luxury of creating villains without hope of redemption. I'm not saying that they will be redeemed. I rage about the simplistic everyone-gets-saved-in-the-end stories which dominated Christian literature for so long. However, at some level the lost child of God, the prodigal rebelling against his father, the Absolom warring against David, must be seen in even the most vile villain. Remember, most of the New Testament was written by just such a villain, a zealot, an irredeemable murderer, who persecuted the church and who had a rather amazing experience on the Damascus Road.

I wonder what might have happened to Christendom, if some zealous Christian decided to save the church by killing the dreaded Saul of Tarsus.

Sometimes the worst thing you can do is kill your enemy.

Learn more about Flashpoint and Frank Creed at his website or at the Books of the Underground Website

You can order a signed copy of Flashpoint by clicking here or visit

Read what other reviewers are saying this week about Flashpoint on the following blogs:

Fantasy Thyme
Write and Whine
Hoshi to Sakura
Wayfarer's Journal
BlogCritics Interview
Daniel I Weaver
Disturbing the Universe
Grace Bridges
Queen of Convolution
Virtual Tour de 'Net
Christian Fiction Review Blog
Yellow30 Sci-Fi: Review
Yellow30 Sci-Fi: Interview
Back to the Mountains
MaryLu Tyndall
Cathi's Chatter

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Blogger Frank Creed said...

I've debated and prayed for too many on the "dark side". My own sister among them.

We're ordered to love our enemy. To respect them as valuable human beings. Because they are. Created in His image just like our bent selves.

I don't preach like this in my fiction because fiction's first job is to entertain. But you'll get the idea.

Thanks Terri,

October 26, 2007 at 1:42 AM  
Blogger cathikin said...

Terri, this was a great essay, and I agree with you wholeheartedly. There were some characters in the novel who were redeemed after having been tranqued,if I remember correctly, including some gang members who were later helping at the shelter. None of us are righteous, we are all sinners, and the fact that any of us can be redeemed means that all of us can be. Again, without being preachy, here was an important Christian element introduced that sets Flashpoint apart from other novels.

October 26, 2007 at 12:11 PM  

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