05 Oct Breaking Bad over the Fast?
Actor Bryan Cranston’s TV character Walter White first broke bad in his desire to provide for his family after a terminal cancer diagnosis. Ostensibly an intelligent, frustrated yet quiet man, he quickly became addicted to his bad behavior. He was a complicated TV character whose behavior kept me guessing. A villain and a dupe, his conduct was disgraceful. He was capable of intentional malevolence and violence as well as sensitivity and charity. His cancer made him a cancer on all he came to know. This question haunted me: “Under the right circumstances am I capable of the same?” “Could I be Walter White?”
Holocaust Survivor Yeheil Dinur says yes. He testified at the Eichmann Trial in 1961. After his opening statement Dinur fainted and was subsequently unable to resume his testimony. A film clip from Eichmann’s 1961 trial showed Dinur walking into the courtroom only to see Eichmann for the first time since being sent him Auschwitz. The clip shows Dinur crying hysterically and then collapsing. Why was Dinur overwhelmed? Dinur later explained that he saw Eichmann in a simple business suit for the first time. He was not the godlike army officer who had sent so many to their deaths. This Eichmann was an ordinary man. “I was afraid about myself,” said Dinur. “. . . I saw that I am capable to do this. I am . . . exactly like he.” “Eichmann is in all of us”
I think of Walter White as we approach the Day of Atonement. Yom Kippur begins at sundown on Tue, 11 October 2016. It is a fast day. It is customary to say “Have an easy fast” before the holiday begins. The “Al Chet” confession of sins is said ten times in the course of the Yom Kippur services. When one begins to look at this confession, it can be overwhelming. Google this confession and you will see that we all break bad! Many of my people are more reflective at this time of year whether it’s a touch of “Jewish guilt” or a well-intentioned resolution to do life better this year. Even when we realized we’ve done badly we count on the hope of redemption.
Breaking Bad has placed something steadfastly punitive at the core of its world: the dreadfulness of getting what we deserve – a world of law barren of grace. The only way Walter White could ever be redeemed is the same way any of us whom the law pronounces broken and bad are—by the wonder of God’s grace in Messiah Jesus.
Written by Andrew Barron, Director of Jews for Jesus Canada.
Email him at [email protected]. You can also suggest topics for future blog posts.