Saturday, December 24, 2011
The Difference Between Bedford Falls and Pottersville
Larry Taunton, author of The Grace Effect: How the Power of One Life Can Reverse the Corruption of Unbelief, has a nice essay on cnn.com - My Take: When Bedford Falls Becomes Pottersville.
"Bedford Falls" and "Pottersville" are the two fictional towns in the classic Christmas movie "It's a Wonderful Life." Financial pressure gets to George Bailey. Life in Bedford Falls is not good. He wishes he had never been born.
An angel appears to George and shows him what life would be like had George never been born. Welcome, George, to Pottersville. Taunton writes: "In Dickensian fashion, the angel takes him from one scene in that small town to another. The difference is stark. Indeed, Bedford Falls isn’t even Bedford Falls anymore, but a place called Pottersville. The town’s main street is a red-light district, crime is rampant, and life there is coarsened."
Taunton makes an analogy between contemporary America and Bedford Falls. We have people who wish religion had never been born. Taunton reasons such people don't know what they are wishing for. Such people "grossly underestimate the degree to which [their] own moral and intellectual sensibilities have been informed by the Judeo-Christian worldview."
Two connections come to mind. First, the "madman" in Nietzsche's chilling, prophetic parable. One can't leave Christian theism for atheism and reasonably retain Christianity's moral outlook. Secondly, Italian philosopher-atheist Marcello Pera's recent Why We Should Call Ourselves Christians: The Religious Roots of Free Societies. Pera claims that "the current moral crisis of Europe and the West is due to an apostasy of Christianity." (p. 61)
This weekend I'm thankful I have chosen to live, mutatis mutandis, in Bedford Falls.