Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Rorschach Test

In case you don't know, I'm an avid fan of Watchmen, both the novel and film. I'm particularly drawn to one of the central characters, Rorschach, named for the ink-blot test commonly used in psychotherapy. His mask is one of ever changing Rorschach patterns, but the black and white never mixes and are always symmetrical. This is a reflection of his thought process, that while his views do change, they are always absolute in their conviction. This is his greatest strength, more so than his immense physical strength and his extremely agile mind.

He believes in absolute good and absolute evil, often to a fanatical degree. That which is good he will protect, by punishing that which is evil in any way possible, often by killing it outright. While his views do lean towards the extreme to the point of impracticality, its his unwavering devotion to his ideals of good that I admire. His refusal to compromise in any way, even at the expense of world peace and in the end his own life is a spirit that is sorely lacking in todays world of moral relativism. Instead of taking the easy way out, instead of compromising his ideals and beliefs, Rorschach trudges on sullenly, doing his part to rid his world of evil in the form of killing all those who threaten the good and innocent.

While I don't necessarily advocate vigilante justice (though it is a topic I would be willing to argue in favor of) the thought process being it, that of absolute uncompromising devotion to good, is something I do advocate and try to practice in my own life, though with less than stellar results in many cases.

The challenge in all this is determining what really is or isn't "good." There's only one standard that I can really call absolute, and that is the Bible. Attempting to hold fast to any other thing is, while maybe with admirable devotion, in the end doesn't amount to much. There's simply no other book of absolute good in this world. There are some fine teachings from ages and ages of philosophizing and thinking, but when you boil it down, the Bible, being the written word of God, is really all you can call absolute. I make no claim to be perfect, but I try my best to simply not compromise on things that are in that Book.

It's not something one can do on one's own though, and despite Rorschachs godless world, it is only though God that one has any chance of adhering to the Bible at all. Through God.

Anything else, any other attempt through any other means will be, to quote Rorschach, "Nothing Short of compromise."


  1. Watchmen was a great movie. I appreciate your connection with that Rorscach character, and agree that it is important for each of us to latch on to our convictions and stick to them. It's great to put your stake in the ground by adhering to the bible, but I would be careful about sounding too simplistic. Being narrow and dogmatic is a slippery slope in a complicated world.

  2. Cool character commentary, Joshua. The vigilante justice topic intrigues me, partly because of its inability to consider the grays. Words like "counseling" and "therapy" don't find home in this approach to evil in the world. It's certainly faster, no doubt, and feels more final, but it can't make room for all variables in a person's behavior and motives.

    The Old Testament often comes across as full of vigilante justice. God smites this tribe or slashes that individual because they were in one way or another noticeably evil. However, the New Testament then rolls along and suddenly reveals that this Absolute Standard makes room for a gentler, considerate justice. Which, of course, makes you return to the OT where you see the same gentle consideration there, too. Just not always so plain to see.

    You got me thinking this morning. Thanks.

  3. Firstly, I will say that I'm less absolute than Rorschach; I'm obviously not going to be breaking fingers or killing those who disagree with me. I also realize that there are areas of grey that are impossible to get around, like therapy/counseling needs. To discount those things is impractical in the world we live in because there are genuine needs for that. What I take is more the attitude and spirit of it rather than following Rorschach actual doctrine to the letter. If i did that I'd obviously be in jail right now.

    But to address the first comment, it's just the opposite of simplistic and narrow. Rorschachs strength is that he is both flexible and non-simplistic. His views do change based on the world around hum, but it's his convictions and desire to follow his beliefs that remain absolute.

  4. Joshua, I included a link to this post in today's feature at High Calling Blogs. Thanks again!