I know what you’re thinking, ‘Another article on the Penn State debacle?’ Yes, there have been many posts written on the tragic scandal at Penn State.  Even though that is the case, it is something that must continue to be discussed for some time.  This post is not intended to make light of the matter, rather it is focused on truth by looking at the similarities of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village and the recent incidents at Penn State.

Before we get into that, I need to say that I have heard (second-hand) that there is another post/article out there that has made this comparison.  I tried to find the article to link it here, but couldn’t.  I haven’t read the article and honestly drew the connections prior to hearing about the article, so I just wanted to communicate all that up front.

Over the years, The Village has climbed my list of all-time favorite movies.  The musical score alone is excellent and was my musical diet for my seminary studies.  The story follows a group of people who live at peace, in a Pennsylvanian (first parallel) countryside, with creatures living in the woods.  These creatures ‘those we don’t speak of’ are thought to be hostile and keep the inhabitants of the village from crossing into the woods. [SPOILERS – you really need to watch this movie] What we later discover is that the elders of the village have all experienced heart-breaking loss and erected the village, along with the lore about ‘those we don’t speak of’, in order to create a perfect existence and escape evil.

If you skipped to this paragraph thinking there won’t be any ensuing spoilers, you’re wrong.  The rest of the post might explicitly or implicitly speak to those, so you should go…just walk away.  I really want to focus on one parallel between PSU and The Village.  That one similarity has many specifics, but that’s all we’ll focus on today.  The main thing I want to focus on today is the external.

The people of the village had come face-to-face with the harsh reality of a fallen world.  They had experienced rape, murder, loss and wanted to escape that reality, by living a somewhat fake existence.  The village wasn’t truly real, it was a fabrication of reality.  The cruelty of the world drove these people to create an existence that was squeaky clean on the outside…sound familiar.

As Ted Kluck says, in his post on this matter, “I didn’t grow up a Penn State fan (I grew up in Indiana)…but I felt like Penn State, as a program, affirmed and shared some of the same things that I valued.”   Some of what I think Ted is referring to is the squeaky cleanness PSU & Joe Pa communicated about their program.  On the outside they were the good ‘ol boys of football.  They stayed focused on tradition.  Some may say they seemed stuck in the past.  They created a program that seemed intent to capture the essence of football and how it used to be – not the horrific animal it has become.

However, what the people of the village and all those involved in the scandal at Penn State seemed to forget is the fact that evil is not outside of us. It’s in our hearts.  No matter how hard you try to clean up on the outside, your heart is darker than you even know.  Whether you’re building a village in the Pennsylvanian countryside or a football program, you can’t escape evil. As Jesus said in Matthew 15:16-20:

And he said,”Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”

What the elders of the village and Joe Pa were focused on was the external, but they forgot that the heart (the internal) was the core of their corruption.  But let’s not judgmentally point the finger at them without pointing it at ourselves, we all are guilty of this.  Christians and non-Christians are a fake people who often clean up on the outside forgetting that our own hearts are what need cleansing.  We may not have played a part in the molestation of children, like some at Penn State did, but Jesus reminds us of the evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, and slander that make up your heart and mine.

No one would want the desires of their heart exposed, so be humbled by your own heart before you judge another.  At the end of the day, if righteousness came from building a village or wearing the same football jerseys for two centuries, we wouldn’t need Jesus Christ.  But the truth is, we do.  Faith in Jesus Christ is the only way to change your dark heart.  Our hearts were so nasty and so helpless, that it took the Second Person of the Trinity to come and live the life we could not live and die the death that we deserve.

So be angered at those at PSU who covered up this horrific tragedy, but be humbled.  Your heart is just as dark and capable of the same evil.  Those in The Village, Joe Pa, the students rioting, the administration at Penn State, and you, all need the cleansing blood of Jesus to cure your dark hearts.

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