While movies show us our hopes and aspirations, they turn a mirror to our problems as well. Simply put, our lives aren’t what they should be; too often we don’t do the good things we wish we would, and we do the bad things we wish we didn’t (to paraphrase the apostle Paul). So what’s going on here? The movies have a lot of answers. At their most simplistic, they tell us that bad guys do bad things and good guys do good things. But we know it’s more complicated than that, and at their best the movies know this, too.
The gospel tells us that part of our problem is that we don’t see the world for what it really is. We look at life through glasses colored by our own fear, insecurity, greed, what have you. To love other people as we’re called to do, you have to see them the way God sees them; as beloved children of God, redeemed by the life, death, and resurrection of God’s Son. But we don’t see people that way; instead, we inhabit an alternate reality of our own making, seeing others through the prism of our anxieties and desires. Thinking ourselves free, we are in truth imprisoned within this other world created by our sin (think you know what movie we’re going to look at in relation to this theme?)
Christian faith also tells us that this whole sin thing is a tangled up business. When we sin, it’s rarely simply a matter between us and God; most of the time other people are involved as well. Even more, when we violate another person’s rights or dignity, that’s rarely the end of it; the feelings of hurt and betrayal to which we subject that person are going to well up until he or she does something hurtful to others, and the whole cycle is simply going to escalate from there. Part of the human predicament is that our connections to one another serve, not only to strengthen and sustain us, but also to multiply and amplify the harm we visit upon one another.
So this week in our class we’ll explore these and other aspects of why we humans have messed things up for ourselves, and stand in need of forgiveness, reconciliation, and new beginnings. To do that, we’ll be looking at scenes from The Matrix and Crash. (Pat yourself on the back if you guessed either of those. Better yet, let me know if did.)