The Joy of Destruction
2012, the latest and some are saying the biggest if not the best disaster movie of all time opens everywhere tonight. If you haven’t read a review yet, you can try this. As best I can tell, lots of people will die and nearly every famous building in the world will topple; even the trailers have hints of bad new age theology. I can hardly wait to see it.
I don’t think we’ll see 2012 tonight, though Becky likes watching disaster and destruction as much as I do. I’d really like to see it with our son Christopher. There’s no one better in the whole world with whom to watch the whole world end than our son Christopher. Oh, he loves the action and all the amazing techie effects, but what really makes it so good to watch a disaster flick with Christopher is his sardonic sense of humor. He’ll shred the over-the-top dialogue and the improbable plot turns with just the right comments. But we won’t be seeing Christopher and his wife Katie until Christmas time. I’m not sure 2012 can wait so long.
Some of you have no intention of ever watching 2012 and find it unfathomable if not downright offensive that so many people will take such delight in watching such total destruction. And by the way, what kind of pastor admits to liking such trash?
What makes a disaster movie wonderful entertainment is the formula to which I hope 2012 sticks. Of course there will have to be some bogus scientific explanation for whatever triggers the disaster. We will do well not to think long about the science of the disaster.
In the good disaster movies bad subplots abound. A love interest for the intrepid young scientist who seems to be the only one who has an idea of what to do about what’s about to happen, but whose thinking has been rejected by the old bureaucrats and institutionalists. There better be a rebellious teenage son or daughter who has been estranged from a parent but who will finally be reunited with said estranged parent. And, of course, the disaster will be made only worse early on by the bad decision of said rebellious teen. For sure, some middle-aged person whose life has been a series of compromises with convenience and evil will do one last right thing costing his or her life but saving the lives of many others.
So why do I, why do so many of us love disaster movies? I don’t think it’s the destruction, though as good as it is, it is all just really sophisticated comic book stuff. It’s not some subliminal desire for disorder and chaos.
I think we like disaster movies for two reasons. First, we like to be entertained by over the top dialog, bad subplots and amazing special effects. Secondly, because disaster movies, in the end, are always about survival and hope.
We like to be entertained. If 2012 is what they say it is, for 158 minutes we will be completely absorbed in another world where we have no responsibility but to watch and to wait for what happens next. Pure escapism.
But in the end, and I assume that at the end of 2012, someone survives. As bad as it will have seemed at so many points in the story, the good guys, or at least some of the good guys, will survive. Justice will have been served the bad guys, or at least some of the bad guys. Most will have been lost, but not all, and there will be the glimmer of a hope that we just may do better next time.
We like living in a world of survival, of justice and a glimmer of hope, if even for only 158 minutes.
Somehow we have tamed the gospel to be less than the amazing story it is and the amazing story it invites each one of us to live. Romans 8:35-39 is too often put in reserve, ready to be read in hushed tones at funerals. It ought to be the trailer for the Christian life, the sketch of the plot of the story into which we have been invited.
The Joy of Destruction