A Fictional Alternate Scenario

Imagine for a moment a flashback “alternate reality” of a different scenario for Paul’s life, as is sometimes ingeniously portrayed in modern motion-picture fictional storylines.

After this experience on the road to Damascus, in this alternate reality, Paul returns to Jerusalem and offers as an expedient explanation to the religious leaders of his failed mission that he could find few if any Christians in Damascus.  He judiciously keeps the details of his Christian conversion to himself for the time being.

But Paul is so transformed by his newfound faith he then proceeds to live an exemplary life, rising to the top of the leadership in Jerusalem while marrying a wife and raising a family according to rabbinic tradition (Jn. 18:13).  His leadership skills and his influence in Jerusalem are so highly regarded that when he prudently begins to share his faith in Jesus Christ as the messiah and savior, he is successful in bringing many of the leading Pharisees and scribes who were previously somewhat confused, ambivalent, and undecided about Jesus of Nazareth, to the Christian faith.

In other words, if Paul in a moment of reflective hindsight, towards the end of his actual missionary journeys, had the opportunity to go back and rewrite the course of his life according to a more worldly conventional scenario close to the alternate reality described above, would he have regretted the actual course of his life according to the challenging, difficult, narrowly structured ways and plans of God for a world-class missionary evangelist to the first-century Greco-Roman world…and instead thought he could have written a better and more effective life-script himself?

From our time-wizened viewpoint of hindsight, the Saul of Tarsus of the alternate reality, returning to Jerusalem to assume a position of religious and political leadership, no matter how exemplary in terms of worldly conventional thinking, could never have written the inspiring and insightful New Testament letters to the early Christian churches.

Conventional normalcy at its highest level of achievement and expression is incapable of excavating the subtly deep issues that separate truth from error in this broken world. 

God knew in advance that Paul would give up his claim to worldly conventional normalcy, if a journey of faith through the danger zone would lead to the “all truth” that Paul so brilliantly articulates in his New Testament letters that have blessed untold millions of people down through the past twenty centuries.

God knew that Paul would willingly choose the way of the cross, with all of its difficult challenges and positive breakthroughs, if this path took him to the place where both his mind and his heart told him he wanted to go.

The challenges, tribulations, and sufferings of the Christian life in the danger zone, so beautifully documented in the New Testament book of Acts, disembark in a vertical tangent from the horizontally conventional thinking of this world, producing a fulfilling and eternally productive adventure of faith for Paul.  This new adventure of faith was unimaginable to Saul the Pharisee prior to his conversion.  Paul, from the most intense personal experience, can write to the Corinthians: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).

A walk of faith following God sometimes entails huge risks and requires the most adventurous spirit of discovery, within the context of the one, single lifetime we enjoy.

Going deeper still, the message that Paul brings to his audiences in the Greco-Roman world…is precisely and exclusively this exceptional adventure of faith that he himself is experiencing.  What Paul has is what he gives.  Paul’s message cannot be separated from his life as recorded in the book of Acts.  Salvation, redemption, forgiveness, and grace are an inseparable part of Paul’s story.  So also is a dynamic, living journey of faith following Jesus Christ into the discovery of “all truth.”

An exemplary life according to worldly conventional normalcy would not produce Paul’s letters to the early churches…because the message itself is formed and shaped by his God-composed life-script…purposed and directed out of the imaginatively creative mind of God.

I believe Paul wrote the New Testament letter to the Hebrews.  In Hebrews chapter eleven, Paul recounts the great journeys of faith in the Old Testament from the vantage point of his own adventurous journey of faith.

This point is critical to understand for today’s Christian.  Living in a faith-dependent relationship following Jesus Christ sets up the precise conditions for Christians to have something valuable to give to others…the one thing that is of eternal value…a personal relationship with God…likewise based on and indivisible from a faith-journey.

“That I may KNOW HIM, and the power of his resurrection” (Phil. 3:10…capital letters mine)…occurs within our God-composed journey of faith…and not within an alternate reality of worldly conventional normalcy lived …at even the highest commendable level.

But it must always be remembered that the leading of God for born-again Christians, no matter how daring and adventurous, is always in accordance with the scriptures, and always results in morally correct choices, increasingly higher levels of ethical behavior, a better acceptance and performance of responsibilities, a noticeable improvement in personal character traits, and more love towards others.  With time and spiritual maturity, God’s leading eventually results in blessings to a larger number of other people in whatever theater of action God has placed us in.

Deism

The natural world appears commendably mechanical in its mathematical precision by God’s intentional and purposeful design.  A natural world filled with the insecurity of constant miracles divinely produced to keep it functioning properly is not conducive to a biblical-quality journey of faith, or even conducive to a worldly journey of self-direction lived in unbelief totally apart from God.

Orderliness and intelligibility in the natural world are an inbuilt part of the expert craftsmanship of God that provides the consistent stability to be able to understand and put into practice something of God’s own character and personality traits, intelligible to Spirit-led people of faith through life lesson-plans “down-loaded” by God within biblical-quality walks of faith.

The lesson-plans of God require a stable natural environment for undistracted, learned experiences focusing on the issues at hand.  Trial-and-error, trial-run iterations and adjustments of an imprecise natural world, through intermittent divine miracles bordering on the edge of just-in-time remedies, would indeed prove the existence of God to skeptics, but reveal Him to be the author of a natural order having confusion, ambiguity, insecurity, and chaos.

Instability in the natural world, defining God as a maintenance handyman forever engaged in the fixer-up mode of re-adjusting His imprecise universe, would be a discordant contrast to an ordered and intelligible journey of faith designed by God to instill stable confidence, self-worth, and validation into the people of faith developed through divinely crafted life events.

The purpose behind the reality of the appearance of near-perfect craftsmanship in the natural world is just the opposite of the conclusions of atheistic naturalism of an absentee or non-existent clockmaker.  An orderly and intelligible natural world that runs self-sufficiently with the precision of a well-made clock creates the optimum environment for a God-composed journey of faith to functionally operate, but equally necessary for radical skeptical unbelief to functionally operate as well.

Too much “miracle” in either our natural world or our spiritual-moral world would contaminate the orderliness and intelligibility of a journey of faith.  Too much answered prayer in the form of miraculous solutions to every problem…like our high school math teacher doing our algebra homework problems for us…would limit our participation in the lessons contained in each individual scenario in a walk of faith, divinely crafted for our instructive benefit.

If God solved every problem through miracles, we could never learn anything ourselves through first-hand experience.  Scientific investigation…one aspect of human discovery…could not occur in a miracle environment because miracles are unique, one-time events not amenable to experimental study and thus not reducible to repetitive natural laws.  The irony here is that the combination of orderliness and intelligibility…hallmarks of the scientific method…argue for the existence of an ultra-precise, supernatural, Intelligent Designer God.

If God solved every problem through miracles, reality would be reduced to everyone becoming idle spectators, with clapping hands applauding God in the “see God go” mindset of the small business, autocratic owner insisting upon doing everything themselves and never delegating responsibilities or placing confidence in others.

This is a reason why the information-rich, sophisticated, biblical journey of faith is so remarkable in terms of leadership and management theory, and thus parallels the major discoveries in science like the Cambrian Explosion in the fossil record, the Big Bang, and DNA in living cells.  Biblical journeys of faith are complete and ready to adventure through, yet they contain the very modern and highly sophisticated element of delegation through a joint-venture walk of faith framework, with God acting as knowledgeable guide rather than know-it-all and do-it-all autocrat…through the amazing environment of an orderly and intelligible world.

There must be a divinely crafted balance between the supernatural and the natural for a biblical-quality adventure of faith to operate correctly.  This is one reason why there is no initial human collaboration in our God-composed journey of faith life-scripts.  We could not possibly have the wisdom and the foresight to produce the right mix of divine and human.  Only God has the divine perspective to get journey of faith life-scripts complete, correct, and properly balanced from the first moment we step into them.

An uncertain natural world needing supernatural corrections constantly would not allow enough stable security to mount high-quality, proactively envisioned, long-term expeditions of faith.

For example, there would be too much uncertainty if the rotational speed of the earth fluctuated daily causing the sun to rise and set at widely differing times.  If the strength of gravity changed radically from its current value to near-zero then back to full-strength on an hourly basis, our dexterity in performing everyday tasks like washing the dishes or driving to work would be a central, all-consuming challenge.  Life would be chaotic in a world where wind speeds exceeded 100 miles per hour once or twice a month as the norm.  If it typically snowed once during summer, or if large hailstones were the norm instead of rainfall, or if we had two weeks straight of totally dark skies that shut down all travel or work, once or twice a year, these occurrences would dominate our attention and our lives.

Imagine life on our earth where every 100 square-foot patch of ground raised or lowered several inches constantly, creating a teeter-tooter effect making it difficult to stand or walk safely…much less construct stable building structures, railroads, highways, or play sports like golf or baseball.  These unstable conditions in the natural world would dominate human existence and would be the chief, central issues in our reality.

God is both First Cause and Continuing Cause in every aspect of physical reality and moral reasoning, whether or not we can visually see, measure, and quantify His presence.  The brilliant arrangement of the complex and ordered information that is found in every aspect of the non-living and living world, plus the beneficial moral transformation that occurs in the lives of new Christian converts, is the signature autograph of the one, true, living God.

Deism has never been the reality for people accepting the New Testament and personally experiencing the words of Jesus that He will be with us always, even to the end of the world.  A person cannot personally know the intimacy of God’s participation in a biblical-quality journey of faith and at the same time countenance the philosophy of deism.

God active in the lives of believers is central to Christianity, is central to the biblical record, and is central to contemporary Christian experience.  By definition God’s interaction and personal relationship with us is supernatural.  Immanuel (Isa. 7:14)…meaning “God with us” in the person of Jesus Christ…is as supernatural and as personal as it gets, and is far removed from the notion of deism.

The narrative stories of faith in the Bible portray this theme all along, from Abraham through Paul.  Relationships with God are by definition supernatural, in addition to the more spectacular things like Moses parting the Red Sea or Jesus multiplying a few fish and loaves of bread to feed thousands of people gathered on a hillside.

Yet portions of the changing philosophical outlook even among some “believers” at the end of the Scientific Revolution (1300-1700) sadly degenerated into “deism” (the idea that God created the natural world but is not an active participant in its day-to-day operations), as if scientifically discovering a smooth-running, machine-like creation is now somehow revelatory evidence that God might be far-removed and hands-off in both the operation of the natural world and the affairs of mankind.  But an intelligently designed functional system, on autopilot, is still evidence for an intelligently designed functional system…designed that way for a greater purpose.

From a Christian viewpoint encompassing the cross of Christ, integral and active in the biblical adventures of faith, God was never merely the absentee Divine Clockmaker.  But even if God did design the natural world in such a precise way to function independently and what might  outwardly appear to be deterministic in its perfection, this would have nothing to do with His active participation in the lives and affairs of mankind other than to provide a consistently stable environment.

If God as maintenance handyman appears to be absent because the machinery of the universe is designed so well it runs smoothly for its current 14-billion year history, without the need for a scheduled service tune-up and oil change, this does not logically have to extrapolate to an absent, non-participant Manufacturer God inaccessible to our lives.

The concept of deism, that a precise clockmaker means an absent clockmaker, is a faulty inference of men who did not and do not have the starting perspective of a personal relationship with the living God of the Bible, and who were and presently are ignorant of the divinely unique, novel qualities of the way of the cross of Christ inherent within God-composed journey of faith life-scripts.

Purpose and the Cross 1

“I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”                       (John 8:12)

From The Christian Church in the Last Days

No writer in the history of literature has ever attempted to create a fictional character absolutely devoid of purpose.  Like reaching absolute zero temperature, creating an absolute vacuum, or producing the conditions for motion having zero friction, humans cannot conceive of a literary character having absolute zero purpose.  A person without purpose is a fiction beyond our imagination.  Every human being on the planet cares about someone or something, to some extent.  This aspect of our world, in which every person has some measure of purpose, whatever its direction or quality, should come as a surprise to us. But this is another of the many features of our present reality that we just accept and take totally for granted.

This reality regarding purpose can be used as an apologetic argument for the existence of God.  Acknowledge even the smallest quantity of purpose in the recipe for meaningful human life, and this then requires a reasonably plausible explanation for where purpose comes from.  This is one of the philosophical inconsistencies inherent in skeptical unbelief.

But purpose and meaning in life go much deeper than this.  The old proverb “Do as I say, not as I do” reveals an inconsistency in all human behavior.  A common notion among many people is that we typically live around 75 or 80 years, then die, are buried, and this covers all there is to reality.  But if this were true in a purely absolute sense, if taken to its logical extreme, then people would live in total detachment and disinterest about anyone or anything.  If we are made up solely of atoms, molecules, and quantum energy, then existence should be a cold, empty, emotionless, absolute zero-purpose reality having no caring, no passion, and no meaning.

The one thing that is absolutely consistent about the application of purpose in our lives is that none of us are absolutely consistent.  Christians are criticized by the skeptical world of unbelief for not living up to the high standards of Christ.  Admittedly, Christians do not practice what they preach perfectly.  But neither does anyone else.  Some people say they do not believe in God, and do not believe in anything transcendent beyond this present life in the here and now.  But the inconsistency of their verbally stated belief system is betrayed by their fully engaged and sometimes active passion for social and political reforms, their insistence upon personal integrity in their lives, their solid endorsement of the standards and laws that govern society, and their unabashed enthusiasm for the welfare of their children and grandchildren.

This clear and unwavering preference for high standards and commendable outcomes in life has no place in a world having zero purpose or meaning.  Actions here shout louder than words, and in everyday practice self-refute the theoretical foundation for the purely absolute, naturalistic worldview.

If all we do is live, die, and are buried, then why care deeply and passionately about anyone or anything?  What would be the point?  Is someone keeping score?  Doing the right thing and caring about others becomes absolutely meaningless.  Making our mark in life and leaving behind us a better world for posterity becomes absolutely meaningless.  Things like friendship, loyalty, honor, character, and self-sacrifice not only become meaningless…they do not even exist.  Even caring only about ourselves becomes meaningless in a world having no real purpose beyond atoms and molecules.

In my view, some people incorrectly use the argument that evil exists in the world, which greatly disrupts our good order and well-being, as evidence that God does not exist.  The presumption here is that a wise and caring God would not create such a beautiful and orderly world as this, yet allow evil to mar its existence.  But we have to search in an entirely different area than purpose for an explanation for the existence of evil in our world.    If a brilliant craftsman God did not create within us this facility for purpose and meaning in life, then no one would care about the issue of the existence of evil in the first place.  We would not possess the capacity to care about anything.  The inability to be absolutely detached and disinterested in terms of purpose and meaning in life to the point of not even being able to imagine such an extreme purposeless condition devoid of any appreciation of justice, fairness, and equity, severely undermines a materialistic explanation of reality based solely on atoms, electrons, and the physical elements.

Every single human being is covered by the broad brush-stroke of hypocritical inconsistency in this area of the gap between what we say verbally and what we actually do in practice.  Christians and non-Christians alike are merely at different points on the same spectrum graph-line of purpose in life.  No one escapes this issue of hypocritical inconsistency.  Christians aspire to moral perfection, but don’t quite get there.  Skeptical unbelievers aspire to a totally rational and intellectual existence consistent with a materialistic worldview, devoid of any transcendent purpose or meaning, but don’t quite get there.  Although everyone has purpose of one sort or another, everyone falls short of absolute purity in the application of their particular worldview.

The Natural Moral Law 6

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.”  (Prov. 18:10)

From The Christian Church in the Last Days

Whether we consciously know it or not, when we place our trust completely in Jesus Christ through a God-composed journey of faith, we are subscribing wholeheartedly to the natural moral law.  A personalized adventure of faith patterned for us after the lives of faith portrayed in the Bible, is God’s ingenious method of establishing a relationship with us based upon mutual love.  This love will capture our voluntary willingness to climb any mountain, cross any sea, and bear any burden in response to the living God who loves us and cares for us.  This explains why Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David, Ruth, Esther and Mordecai, Jeremiah, Elijah, Daniel, Peter, and Paul stay with God’s program through thick and thin.  They recognized God’s confident love for them and responded with fidelity and loyalty to God’s higher ways and plans.  This is the elevated, higher character realm of the natural moral law where God resides.

Princess Anne and Joe Bradley unintentionally fall in love as a result of their shared Roman Holiday experience, combined with their physical attraction and growing affection for each other.  This was not a consciously intellectual choice on their part, conferring merit on their creative wisdom to set all of this up in advance.  We simply have the God-given, innate capacity for experiencing love that will alter our lives for the better.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

One theme of this book is that God sets up unimaginable life-scripts for us to walk in, individually tailored to His intentions when He originally created each of us.  Love will motivate people to voluntarily choose high moral actions in a truly genuine and fulfilling way.  Divine love is the dynamic force that energizes the journeys of faith recorded in the Bible.  The “that not of yourselves” part involves picking up our cross, listening in the Spirit, and following Jesus.  It is the love of God that actively intervenes in our lives that is the key for individual Christians and the Christian church in the last-days.

This is the part of the Christian experience that is infused with the most unselfish, loving intentions of God toward us, creating the space for God to insert a biblical version “Roman Holiday” of unique situations and circumstances into our lives.

The secondary theme of this wonderful movie Roman Holiday, where the cost of duty and honor is commendably chosen over the short-term gain of personal preference, is something that Christians can anticipate becoming more clearly defined in our journeys of faith as the last–days approach.  Love that produces and exhibits self-sacrifice is one of the basic spiritual realities of the Christian life.  It is one of the fundamental aspects of this natural moral law that is a part of the Almighty God that we worship and follow.  Amazingly, this natural moral law even shows up as a main theme in a classic movie produced out of Hollywood in 1953.

The Natural Moral Law 5

Anne starts out her Roman Holiday wanting only the excitement of pursuing one day of total freedom to do just whatever she pleases, and Joe Bradley starts out pursuing the personally detached, coldly calculated news reporter’s front page feature article.  Both unknowingly start out the day in the natural realm of worldly conventional self-centered plans and schemes, but through the day’s totally unique shared experiences they end up at the highest character realm of the natural moral law of self-sacrificing love.  So it is with a God-composed journey of faith following Jesus Christ.  Spending time with Jesus will change us forever.

Romantic love that contains genuine self-sacrifice motivates Hepburn and Peck, in the movie, to make the right decision and to do the right thing.  But it is the actual activities of the day spent together that creates the bond of love between them to make this possible.  This is where the “rubber meets the road” in the story.  Without their “Roman Holiday” there is no context for their shared experiences, growing love for each other, and subsequent elevated character growth.  Without their Roman Holiday experience, they both would remain just the same as they were the previous day, hopelessly stuck within their horizontally conventional realities.

Only God can craft the events and circumstances in our lives to create the singularly unique context for developing love for God and right actions consistent with the natural moral law.

Whenever Jesus Christ calls a person into a particular task, mission, or service as part of their journey of faith, the confidence that God places in us is a divine aspect of love that will inspire a response to rise to the occasion.  This supportive validation of us as a person, coming from no less than Almighty God Himself, will raise the bar to a new elevated level of character within us.  The value that God places upon us, and the trust He invests in our development, when divine love is in operation, will elevate people into the high character level of the natural moral law contained within a journey of faith, to match the beautiful stories of faith in the Bible.  The acceptance, confidence, and validation that are a part of the love of God that is shown in God’s willingness to interact with us on a personal level, will elevate us to become better people, again seemingly out of nowhere (Mark 4:26-28).

The Natural Moral Law 4

“Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.”  (Prov. 16:3)

From The Christian Church in the Last Days

No Christians today would in hindsight tell Noah to stop building his ark, or advise Abraham to stay in Haran, or advise Moses to refuse God’s difficult calling to go to Egypt and deliver the Israelites.  No Christians would tell David to forget about the absurd notion of attempting to kill Goliath using only a sling and a stone, or tell Peter to continue mending his nets rather than accept the invitation of Jesus to follow Him, or tell Paul he had better give up his missionary quest and return to the safety of being a Pharisee in Jerusalem after being nearly stoned to death in Lystra.

Buried deep within our conscience, we know that doing the right thing is more important than doing what we might otherwise want to do, when the circumstances of life require us to make a choice.  This must have the clear bell-ring note of truth that resonates in our innermost being, otherwise the movie Roman Holiday would not have captured our imagination and maintained its longstanding popularity to reach the elevated status of being considered a “classic.”  Within the highly competitive marketplace of ideas filtered through the cultural medium of modern movie-making, the theme of this beautiful story has stood the test of time for a good reason.

There is an important lesson we can take away from this classic movie.  Even the supportive and affirming aspects of common romantic love, which God created, can change people for the better.  Before her one-day love affair in Rome with Joe Bradley…the Gregory Peck character in the movie, the Princess Anne is going through the perfunctory motions of acting like a princess, of doing what everyone around her tells her to do, because that is what is expected of her.  But after she discovers, even for a single day, that a handsome and charming man actually loves her for who she is rather than what she is, this supporting validation of her as a person sets her free to become her own person.

Not only does the love, value, and respect coming from the Gregory Peck character in the movie enable Anne to grow instantly into a mature woman capable of independent decision-making, but also enables Anne to make the difficult but elevated moral decision to continue in the responsible role as her country’s princess.  After her Roman Holiday, the Princess Anne will enter into her duties in the service of her family and her country out of her own volition and choosing, albeit at the high cost of a lost romance and a broken heart.  This one-day, eye-opening experience will make her a better person and a more committed public servant for all of the right reasons.  This one-day transformation came about through the respect and support that comes with being genuinely loved.

Likewise, the one-day romp through the city of Rome with the beautiful princess in the disguise of a commoner, creates in Joe Bradley a growing love and affection for this woman as the day progresses, that in the end produces the elevated nobility of character that sacrifices for her welfare, the sensational front-page reporter’s story of a lifetime.  While standing in the front row of the gallery of reporters at the next day’s press conference, Gregory Peck assures Audrey Hepburn that the scandalous nature of their day out in the town in Rome will forever remain a secret between the two of them.  Joe Bradley tells the Princess Anne that her “faith in the relations between people will not be unjustified.”  And thus these two people discover together the elevated, self-sacrificing quality of character that their love for each other has created seemingly out of nowhere.

The Natural Moral Law 3

Continuing with the story, after the princess returns to the embassy palace, she is confronted by her three aides (a retired general, a countess, and an elderly man), who ask her to explain her absence for the benefit of the king and queen back in their home country.  One of these men solemnly reminds her of her duty.  But Princess Anne has grown up during this one-day escapade out into the real world.  Yesterday, she was a girl, controlled by her over-zealous aide the countess.  This night, as she stands before them, she is a mature woman, capable from now on of making her own decisions.  She responds in a firm tone: “If I were not completely aware of my duty to my family and my country, I would not have come back tonight, nor indeed ever again.”  The movie viewing audience clearly understands this to mean that if she were free to have her way, she would run off with Gregory Peck.  After a pause to let this sink in, she politely gives them leave to withdraw for the evening.

The primary conflict of the movie, containing an element of entertaining good humor, is the character question of whether or not Gregory Peck will selfishly cash-in on his one-day romp with the princess through the city of Rome and write a sensational news story, or whether he will take the noble and honorable route to protect the reputation of the woman he has fallen in love with.

At a press conference in the embassy reception hall the next day after their previous night’s parting, standing at the front of a greeting line, Gregory Peck assures the princess the secret of their Roman holiday is safe with him, and Eddie Albert humorously hands her the packet of photographs he secretly took of her all that previous day.  The final ending of the movie has Audrey Hepburn nodding her head slightly toward Gregory Peck in a gesture to say a last goodbye, with a radiantly beaming smile but an inwardly broken heart, then turning away with her entourage to go back into the interior of the palace, and Gregory Peck manfully but sadly walking alone out of the palace reception hall.

But the underlying, secondary theme of the movie has much more power.  The night before, after the princess dismisses her aides, she is standing alone in her room looking out the window at the city of Rome below, thinking about the life she will never enjoy there with Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck).  She has made the hard choice to return to being a princess.  She realizes she will never see Joe Bradley again (she still does not know until the following day’s press conference that he is a reporter), will never sit leisurely out on a sidewalk café sipping champagne, never ride through the city on the back of a motor scooter, and never again go dancing at night along the waterfront barges, as a regular person, as a non-princess.  In her large and opulently decorated embassy bedroom, she is again utterly alone.  She will take up her demanding duties the next day, attending the aforementioned press conference, a trade relations appearance, and a diplomatic reception.

The powerful thing about this secondary theme is that we agree with it.  The screenwriters and producers of this movie were not fools.  They would not write a bad ending to this movie that everyone would be disappointed with, on purpose.  Roman Holiday was nominated for ten Academy Awards©, including Best Picture (Audrey Hepburn won for Best Actress).  The enduring high acclaim and stature of this classic movie validates its theme.  Few movie viewers then or now would say that Audrey Hepburn’s character should have walked away from her duties and responsibilities as a royal princess and heir to the throne of her country, and gone off with Gregory Peck.  We agree with her choice, even though it cost her the love of her life.  Even the two main characters in the movie agree with her choice.  Both Princess Anne and Joe Bradley know deep down that if they had walked away from duty and right living, they would eventually regret it.

If one thinks about it, this is an amazingly profound realization.  How is it that we agree so readily about the decision for duty, honor, and responsibility over the pursuit of personal happiness?  How can this natural moral law rise to elevated precedence over everything else, including our personal goals and wishes?  How can the natural moral law be that important?  How can there be values in life worth making sacrifices for, over and above our personal desires?  How can “doing the right thing” command our respect and loyalty to this degree of self-sacrifice?  Why does this theme repeat itself in so many great movies, achieving so much popular acceptance and acclaim, yet be so morally demanding?