by: Chris Kaufman
It's safe to say that for a number of years, the craze around the famed Sherlock Holmes character has gotten out of hand. Sherlock, originally conceived by English writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1887, has all but transcended pop culture. Not only has Sherlock been written about by countless authors, his character has appeared in over 250 film and television series. There's just no shortage of this guy whether it's on Britain's widely popular show Sherlock, the horrific Robert Downey Jr. movies, or the animated series Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century which features everyone's favorite sleuth solving mysteries and fighting crime in space! Even Netflix is planning to cash in on the craze with it's film Enola Holmes which follows the beloved character's sister.
Look, I get it, who doesn't love a monocled man in a trench coat solving mysteries no one else can? But we are simply running this well dry. Why, oh why, do we love Holmes so much? Is it his massive knowledge and anti-social behavior that draws us to this guy? What's the big whoop?
Personally, I have a theory as to why people love Sherlock so much, and it's pretty simple. People don't trust each other. More specifically, people don't want to trust what we are told. There has to be an underlying mystery to every single thing, we want to know the real truth and we want to figure it out for ourselves. See, Sherlock Holmes represents an archetype that we secretly each want to be true about ourselves. We want to be the most informed person, who doesn't trust what everyone else is telling them is true. We want to sleuth out the mystery for ourselves and we don't want any part of it just handed to us.
Simply put, no one wants to be Watson. Holmes's sidekick, who sometimes is a bit thick-skulled, and other times is a brilliant man himself. We don't want the truth to be handed to us by someone else who claims they know what they are doing, we want to come to our own conclusions and our own version of the truth that fits best within our worldview. Certainly, there isn't anything wrong with wanting to figure everything out for ourselves. The only problem is, we can't all be Sherlock.
In his first letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul gives his mentee an interesting warning: "Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; rather train yourself to be godly." -1st Timothy 4:7.
We would do well to listen to Paul's advice today. Living in the post-modern world has given us a lot of great things, but conspiracy theories aren't one of them. Look around on Facebook for just a few minutes and you'll see that theories about literally everything have sprung up. Some folks believe birds have been replaced with government spy drones, some believe the world is controlled by a secret organization of lizard people, some believe America is purposely turning frogs gay, and others that simple public health recommendations are a poly to dehumanize them. The list is endless, and what does one of the most prolific Biblical writers say? "Have nothing to do with them."
Why? Because Christians should be bearers of the greatest truth of all, that God loves the conspiracy rattles human race enough to come down and die on a imperial torture device for them. But when we attach ourselves to anything outside of that truth things can get pretty hairy pretty quick. It's why Paul commands Timothy to train himself to be godly, because gossip, myths, and conspiracy theories have no place in a godly heart or mind.
Perhaps it would do us well to look at the things the Apostle does consider godly; "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." -Galatians 5:22-23.
Noticeably absent from that list are things like; "super-sleuthing", "mystery unraveling", "truth-telling", "telling it like it is", or "just pointing out possibilities". Maybe that's why Paul in his letter to the Corinthians makes a starch dichotomy between knowing something and loving others. Knowledge, to Paul, wasn't a bad thing, but it wasn't the end all either, and knowledge without love was inconceivable. It's why he told them that "Knowledge puffs up while love builds up."- 1st Corinthians 8b.
Maybe we need more Watson's in the church. More folks willing to listen, instead of needing to be the ones who are right. Folks willing to exercise their gentleness instead of their superiority. In these times where it is unclear what is true and what isn't, maybe we need to cling ever closer to Jesus and loosen our grip on our other worldviews.
And for goodness sake, lets stop remaking Sherlock Holmes.