Do you ever notice how movies seem to have the same theme over and over again? It seems that way to me. They are all organized around the pre-determined template of what the audience wants to see, whether the producers meant it to be that way or not.
I drive about 45 minutes both ways to work, and while I was in the car, I was thinking about how popular movies tell a lot about our culture and us as humans. I was thinking about the main themes and how they seem to all be the same. The themes of heroism or salvation, and happy endings. There is the protagonist who is the savior or hero. A quick example would be The Avengers, about a bunch of hero’s saving the world. There has also been a constant stream of these “end of the world” movies where the protagonists fight to save the world. In addition, there HAS to be a happy ending, especially in romance movies. It must end well to be a GOOD movie in my books. We want the catastrophe to be overcome. We want the girl to be found by her father. We want good to win over evil, and we want the bad guy to go down, ASAP. So why does the world need saving so badly?
One of my favorite movies, Pirates of the Caribbean has all these characteristics. In real life it might be hard to call a pirate “the good guy” but we have him and another protagonist trying to save their lady friend, and they are all fighting the “bad guys” along the way. And in the end, the protagonists prevail. Now I’m not saying that whoever Hollywood portrays as being good, is actually good. Sometimes the black and white turns gray. In those situations, how do we know what is good and what is bad? “We call a cancer bad, they would say, because it kills a man; but you might just as well call a successful surgeon bad because he kills a cancer. It all depends on the point of view” (C.S Lewis Mere Christianity). Even though it depends on the point of view, most of us can figure out which is actually bad out of the cancer or the surgeon. We know inherently what is right and what is wrong. C.S. Lewis refers to this as the “Law of Nature.”
We seem to have a built in moral compass. Lewis explains, “”Whenever you find a man who says he does not believe in a real Right and Wrong, you will find the same man going back on this a moment later. He may break his promise to you, but if you try breaking one to him he will be complaining ‘It’s not fair’ quicker than you can say Jack Robinson.” Since we know that a character being saved in a movie is good, and it makes us feel good, we know that being saved from something or someone that is bad, is right. PLUS you automatically get your happy ending!
This longing runs throughout humanity: everyone wants to be saved from something. Most little girls dream of being saved from some catastrophe by Ironman or Batman (he was my favorite), or her prince charming. Do we not innately know there is something wrong with the world? What is it we long to be saved from? Is it from the stresses of life? From mundane work? From a bad relationship? From a serious injury or sickness? From emptiness or loneliness? From fears? Or what about from unknowns or uncertainty? I know I can definitely be made to stress about unknowns. Yes, there is definitely something wrong with this world, and with us. Today I could so clearly see it in Hollywood’s movies (of all things); the intense longing we have for things to be made right. Does anyone else see this pattern?
So step back with me. What is our culture telling us through all these popular movies? We want a hero. We all need to be saved because ever since the fall of man back in Genesis 2, sin has messed the world up and distorted what we were meant to be as humans. God made us to have dominion over the earth and do our earthly work with joy, but our sinful nature has made this very difficult.
A lot of times we look for that salvation in a world of fantasy, ie. Hollywood, among many other things our culture promotes. We search for fulfillment in anything that is meaningful to us, and they can even be good things, but good things can become bad things if you give them too much weight in your life. We watch movie after movie trying to get that good, comfortable feeling of happiness and security, not having to think about real life, and of course, being entertained. Lewis says, “If you look for truth you may find comfort in the end: if you look for comfort, you will not get either comfort or truth – Only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with, and in the end, despair.” I know this to be true.
Jesus Christ invites EVERYONE to be saved from the consequences of our sin. I RSVP’d with a “Yes” a long time ago, and I will follow Him all the days of my life. Everything I do, I try to do to the best of my ability, glorifying Him with the talents and gifts He has given me. I am excited to see how He uses me throughout my life, as He develops my gifts and grows my character to be more like Him. Eternity with Jesus Christ is the ultimate happy ending, because He saves us, but it doesn’t end there. His Holy Spirit shows us how to live a life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and long suffering.
Notice the last one… long suffering. Of course life with Jesus is not easy or perfect. He calls us to live a life of paradox. To love those who hate us. To care for those who no one else cares about. He constantly challenges and grows me as His daughter. I have never experienced so many challenges and difficulty, or felt as imperfect as I have since moving to Calgary 2 and a half years ago, but even so, I know God hasn’t left me. He is working in my life, and I’m learning to see it more and more. I love how God even reveals Himself to us through ourselves as humans… His most celebrated creation. Every good thing comes from God. Everything. Even something as small as the beautiful rays of light coming through my window in the morning, or as big as healing my foot and allowing me to train and compete at an elite level, stronger than before.
So as I explored all these thoughts, I realized that this is a very real thing that everyone struggles with. Everyone wants fulfillment, happiness, and purpose. We just need to put our faith in the right person.
Thanks for reading, I hope my thoughts can provoke some thoughts of your own. Enjoy your week!
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