Monday, April 21, 2008

Into the wild and I am legend

Last Monday and Tuesday I was sick, so I treated myself to a couple of movies: Into the Wild and I am Legend. It's amazing how much these stories connect with God's Story (of Redemption).

I am legend: I was told the original version (1954 with Charlton Heston) ends with an even more blatant "Christ" figure. I'm not a "sci-fi guy," but wow, what a powerful movie this was. From what I remember, it's a pretty "safe" watch for an adult.

Into the Wild: This book intrigued me when I read it about four years ago. I'm fascinated by the power of nature to connect us with transcendence. I love spending time with God in wooded areas in central Iowa, and using nature to tell stories (click here for a video I wrote for an intro to our minor prophets series last summer) As John Piper said, "No one goes to the Grand Canyon or Yosemite to see how great they are." No doubt- nature is powerful. "And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars—all the heavenly array—do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the LORD your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven." (Deut. 4:19-20)

Also, since I work with college students, Chris' (the main character) idealism is something I see a lot of. The desire Chris has to escape this life of being another ant marching, and the bitterness toward his family is not at all uncommon among 19-24 year olds. As my friend Kevin Scheibe says, "Every 19 year old is a Marxist." It's so true. On paper, it sounds like a great idea. But then there's reality. Most college students don't have any problems a wife and kids can't solve. But it's also why they change the world.

(spoiler warning) The most powerful part of the movie for me was when the emaciated Chris struggles to write in a book, "Happiness only possible if shared." Wow. There is so much packed into that statement. It shows how he passed up a multitude of meaningful relationships to selfishly escape the world. It can't work. It's the inherent weakness of a monastery and total ascetic life. There's no one to share it with.

I'm currently studying Unity of the Bible by Daniel Fuller in a biblical theology class at our church. It connects well with a Jonathan Edwards' treatise I studied in college- The End for Which God Created the World. Here's the basic summary of why God created us (according to these books)- his infinite happiness and glory overflowed into a creation and created beings designed to receive happiness from Him. This is why joy is a central virtue to the Christian faith- it's a barometer of how you are relying on the Source to be your all in all. Lack of trust will lead to a lack of joy. Another way of saying it, as the aforementioned Piper, who was shaped by these two books, summarized it, "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him."

All of these thoughts converged for me in this movie. I skipped through quite a bit of the movie because it was long, some parts were blatantly inappropriate, and I was tired. Although I'm not commending it to you as a must see, it made a soulish connection with me.

1 comment:

patrick said...

It was tragic that McCandless died out there in the wilderness; but then again, so many people have benefited from his story... a couple of years of hitchhiking led to his story challenging thousands (millions?) of people to reexamine their lives