Vice Meets Virtue Series Concludes at CAS Assembly
By Amanda Morad | April 15, 2014
Production still from Episode 6 of Vice Meets Virtue.
At the year's final assembly of Regent University's College of Arts & Sciences (CAS), Executive Vice President Dr. Paul Bonicelli addressed the virtue of justice in the wake of a chilling conclusion to the Vice Meets Virtue mini-series that's been featured at the monthly events since September.
"Justice is key to all the other virtues," he explained. "It is, of course, prone to vice, but it also has the capacity to unlock the rest of the virtues."
Bonicelli started with a truism now found on bumper stickers, picket signs and t-shirts: "No Justice, No Peace" and conversely, "Know Justice, Know Peace." Popularized by race riots of the 90s and the Occupy movement of recent years, the phrase has championed a variety of causes and injustices.
"We've used it to the point of cliché and lost the meaning of the word 'justice,'" Bonicelli noted. He then turned to Scripture to set the record straight. Micah 6:8 says "... And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."
Israel, he explained, was being called out for doing things their own way. "The Church fathers talked about justice on the personal level; how to live with a right-ordered soul," Bonicelli said. The concept of justice in today's culture has become collective, organized and often limited to advocacy. But that doesn't tell the whole story.
"Justice is hard for us because it requires us to admit we're wrong and that we don't know how to think and act in the world," he said. "We have to use our reason to come to conclusions and be truthful about the consequences of our actions."
Justice is about being fair and treating others with dignity, but it's also about order. "Justice is close to charity in that it is foundational for harmonious society," Bonicelli said. "If we are rightly related to God, we will be rightly related to others."
That's where a central theme of Vice Meets Virtue comes into play: without right order in the soul, there can be no right order in the world. Thus, the central characters, Christina and Billy, watch their marriage dissolve in the wake of a horrible tragedy that could have been prevented by the right ordering of their souls. With no sense of personal justice, their choices led to greater injustice.
"This series explores things Christians don't always like to talk about," Bonicelli said. But the bottom line is, "they did not take seriously the virtue of justice." According to the series' executive producer and CAS instructor, Donnie Staggs, this is what makes Christina and Billy's story so compelling.
"We wanted students to experience a certain vice so they'd sense the need for the corresponding virtue," Staggs explained. Students were polled during the first several assemblies to help guide the outcome of the story based on their draw to one character or another and their response to the couple's actions. "We then crafted characters and scenes accordingly. Then, we just led them to the logical conclusion a life of vice leads to—chaos. How that specifically plays out, we left open for the audience to decide, thus keeping the sense of experience near and dear to them."
Each episode maintained focus on the vice that was the antithesis of the chosen virtue for the month, culminating in a dramatic conclusion that emphasized the need for justice and the role of reason in seeking it.
"We are moved by emotion sometimes, but we have reason for a purpose," Bonicelli explained. "We can't formalize justice in the world until our souls are rightly ordered by God." Quoting Dr. Corné Bekker's response to an episode of the mini-series, he encouraged students to, "Stop. Think. Do the difficult thing. Put to death those things that are not of God and put on truth."
The assembly concluded with exciting news regarding Vice Meets Virtue. Over the summer, the seven-part miniseries will be developed into Regent's first feature film. Production is scheduled to begin in July.
"This isn't going to look or feel like your regular Christian film," said series creator, Tim Kay. "Chris and Billy's story is a visceral, relentless journey on a path of human choice and consequence that's darker and more honest than most Christian audiences are used to seeing, and I think hard truths like the ones in this story are necessary for any audience to experience—Christian audiences especially."
Students interested in working on the summer production should contact Staggs at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about the College of Arts & Sciences.
Mindy Hughes, Public Relations
Phone: 757.352.4095 Fax: 757.352.4888
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