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The Wire and the Reality of Evil

Peter and I watch TV the way other people go to the movies. We watch about once a week, always together. It is always an event. We pick one show at a time. Years ago, it was Survivor. Then The West Wing. Then Lost, interspersed by summer series to make up the long stretches without any new episodes. Last summer we blazed through two seasons of 24. This summer, we started watching The Wire. The Wire was an HBO series that started in 2002 and was highly acclaimed throughout its five seasons. I heartily endorse it too, but it keeps me up at night. It keeps me up at night because it is very realistic—all the scenes are shot on location and some of the actors are from the streets of Baltimore and it was created by a former reporter from the Baltimore Sun who knew the city inside and out. It is very realistic, and the bad guys are winning.Lots of shows deal with good and evil. But for the most part, the good guys win. Jack Bauer in 24 dismantles the bomb in the end. The President is saved from assassination. The kidnapped daughter gets rescued. Even when good guys die, I can fall back on the knowledge that this is a heavily fictionalized construction of reality. This isn't how it really works.But The Wire is different. Here, the good guys are few and far between, and they probably aren't going to make it. It leaves me longing for change. Longing for something, someone, somehow to break into the mess of poverty and drugs and guns and greed and make it all different. It makes me long for God's presence to be more tangible. And it makes me wonder whether I have avoided the reality of evil for too long.

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