Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Yes . . . It’s a guilty pleasure . . .
I will admit that I watch “Dexter.”  For those unfamiliar with this show: it is the story of a mass murderer trying to live a normal life – except for those pesky murders.
For those familiar with the show: Don’t worry.  I will not be giving anything away.  I’m only on season three. 
Now, let me say from the start that much of the show is reprehensible.  That is the great thing about Netflicks: the “ff” button.  I do not recommend the show.  That being said if one pays attention carefully (at least in the three seasons that I have seen) they do grapple with lots of hot button issues concerning life, love, the role of faith, the dignity (or lack thereof) of the human person and so forth.  I rarely agree with the title character no matter how sympathetic they try to make him with swelling music, kind words, and someone saying to him, “This is the right thing.”


Dexter supposedly is unable to have feelings; particularly complicated feelings such as love.  He works hard then trying to figure what to do to express love to those close to him and make them feel love.  It is a radical decision for the other with little consolation to himself.  Inside his head he is saying, “This is all fake.  If they only knew I don’t know a thing about love.”  From a spiritual standpoint he is in the deepest throws of love.  If he acted lovingly toward those for whom he had great feelings of love, big whoop.  As Scriptures says, “even the pagans do the same.”  But he overcomes his deficit to love mightily.  His is probably the purest love in the show. 
Well, except for those murders.
That is the part of the show that peaks my interested.  The producers go through great lengths to make Dexter a lovable character.  And he had a code by which he lives; he will only kill those who kill and have escaped responsibility for their murders and who will most likely kill again.  So if you would become friends with Dexter, you most likely would never experience the dark side of him that “needs” to kill.  You would only know this great guy.
Think of that for a moment.  Allow Dexter to not be safely on the other side of the screen.  Suppose he was a true friend of yours and you know about his propensity for snuffing out life.  Could you be his friend and allow him to live his life as he allows you to live yours?  Though a bit odd and maybe a tich distant, he is thoughtful, friendly, pleasant, helpful, and fiercely loyal.  And really, he only takes the life of those many would say “deserve to die.”  Some would day that he is making the world a better place.


But he is in your living room having a beer with you and you can sense that you about to have a severe disagreement about something.  Though he says he would never turn his butchery on you, do you completely trust him?  Can you?  Would you not have some fear that the line that separates the “worthies” from the “worthless” might slip – maybe even for just a moment – and in a moment of passion you would become a victim instead of one of the protected class?
I submit that this is a wonderful analogy for our modern state which Pope Benedict calls a throw away culture.  The list grows of people we can discard – that are on the wrong side of the line.  This week was a story that there are more people on death row in Ohio than in a long time.  There is physician assisted suicides, euthanasia, abortion, and now we are on the verge of federal mandates forcing churches to be direct agents in actions they believe to be violations of human dignity.  There are questions about how we treat the poor, the insane, the refugee, the addict, the ignorant, the disenfranchised, and even the criminal. 
For every person added to this list of undeserving of life, the line that separates each of us from the undesirables creeps up.  It may seem a far distance away, but it is only an accident, a false accusation, or change in government away.  Many priests talk about the future and wonder if we will now end up in jail some day for teaching something that has been a part of our core beliefs for 2,000 years.


It’s the Dexter effect.


And it makes me wonder.


Anonymous said...

shows like Dexter are a reason that I don't have cable.

Kathy said...

Hi Fr. V.
Just wanted to ask if you are a Louise Penny fan since I see you quote one of her Three Pines characters once in a while.

Fr. V said...


Someone bought me the series. Interesting stories. I don't think she is that great weaver of a narrative - & hits some of my greatest pet peaves about clues in mystery novels. But when your brain is hurting and you want to veg a little, she is Okay.