Truth, Justice, and the Twilight Zone

“You walk into this room at your own risk–because it leads to the future. Not a future that will be, but one that might be. This is not a new world. It is simply an extension of what began in the old one. 

“It has patterned itself after every dictator who has ever planted the ripping imprint of a boot on the pages of history since the beginning of time. . . . It has one iron rule. Logic is an enemy and truth is a menace.” Rod Serling, The Obsolete Man

It’s one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes.

The story centers around a librarian (Burgess Meredith) named Wordsworth. Since books and religious faith have been outlawed, the librarian faces execution. He has become obsolete.

Before he dies, he finds a way to teach the world. He shows them that humans cannot violate each other without violating themselves.

He reads his illegal Bible. He asserts that there is a God. He has peace even in the face of death. The one who condemned him dies pleading and begging. It is the second man who has become obsolete.

It’s fascinating to consider how much the world and network television have changed since that episode first aired in 1961.

The episode was a reaction to, not only the war of those days, the Cold War, but also the previous war, World War II.

The reverberations of Hitler’s institutionalized, horrific, and unjustifiable atrocity still rocked the world. They remained fresh in the minds of those who had lived through that war and its aftermath. Those who had read or heard testimony from Nuremberg.

Much of the world wanted to make sure such evil would never happen again. The world was wide awake to the dangers of those who would overrule logic and truth.

But even in the face of terrorism and today’s political rancor, we who have comfort, have no fear. We have gone to sleep.

Religious freedom is in peril while ministries offer cruise packages, and families can book Christian vacations. Everyone needs a break. But a vacation isn’t usually ministry minded.

Ministry looks more like sacrifice. And people who sacrifice for a greater good are not asleep.

Once, Germany’s people–and the countries Germany occupied–woke up to learn that they had much to fear.

Germany came to oppression by believing the world had oppressed them. The unfair treaty from the previous war had cheated them. They would show the world. They would rise and be a great people once more.

But they trusted a liar who gave them a twisted sense of justice. He defied logic and denied truth. He was great. He was the author of great horror.

In the meantime, others would rise to greatness. Not other countries. But individuals who lay under the “ripping imprint of a boot” that Serling referenced.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Maximillian Kolbe, Corrie ten Boom. Examples. There are others, some whose names are lost to us.

Bonhoeffer, Kolbe, and ten Boom all met their challenges with faith. They endured great suffering. They loved their enemies. They lived for Christ.

They met at the intersection of justice and truth. Their pursuit was holiness.

And they prevailed over evil.

Ego sum via veritas et vita. ~I am the way, the truth, and the life.

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0 Replies to “Truth, Justice, and the Twilight Zone”

  1. Yes! I remember this episode and have seen it in recent years as a rerun episode. Burgess Meredith was great as the obsolete man. Great theme to the episode.

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