Dogma Has A
Short Shelf Life
In the movie, Hoffa, starring Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito and more, one of the opening scenes has Nicholson and Robert Prosky firebombing a laundry in retaliation to the owner’s refusal to join the union.
Unfortunately, the bombing goes badly wrong and Prosky’s character, Billy Flynn, is caught in the flames. Dying in the hospital, Billy is coaxed to confess by the attending priest. That could be tricky for two reasons.
Billy is convinced he was acting justly, which doesn’t require confession, and more importantly a confession might possibly lead to the conviction of Hoffa and his new sidekick played by DeVito.
Billy’s response is surprising and unexpected.
He looks at the priest, breaths an expletive and then makes an unforgettable quote.
Never let down. Never let up. Never forget.
I don’t know if that really happened but I don’t doubt people have expressed that kind of devotion in the face of life and death situations. I also don’t doubt that Hoffa was able to elicit that kind of devotion.
But here is the point. Devotion is not always what you think.
Generally, we view devotion as an honorable thing and devoted people as committed, reliable and good. In fact, devotion is a popular topic in religious circles and the truly devoted are among the best religion has to offer.
But is that completely accurate? According to Hoffa, devotion can apply to less principled types.
Devotion has a moral sense that doesn’t fall within the boundaries of traditional thinking. People frequently commit themselves to causes, groups and ideologies that are questionable at best. It happens all the time.
And once established, devotional connections are difficult to dislodge, regardless how right or wrong they may be. According to a Michigan study, devotion becomes more resolute in response to challenging facts. The followers of Hoffa didn’t let the law get in the way.
In reality, devotion is just devotion. It’s neither good nor bad, and it has many dimensions to consider. You find it everywhere, even among the unsavory.
Based on that thought we could make some interesting observations about devotion. [Read more…]