When I was in middle school, my sister Kelly babysat two boys for a while. From memory, and I could be wrong, the two guys were five-ish and seven-ish.
At the time, Disney re-released a print of Bambi, and I went along with my sister, the boys, and my mom to see the movie. After it was finished, the two youngins asked, “Could we go back and see the actors.”
They were serious.
Not only did they think the movie was acted out by characters who were there that day in that theater. They thought cartoon characters were real.
The experience jogged my brain. It forced me to think, “Did I ever think like that? No, right? These kids are obviously idiots.”
I felt the need to tell them they were wrong, but I think I resorted to letting them continue in their fantasy.
That brings me to recent thoughts about movies
Every day I throw the ball with Talulah. Every day that I’m out there alone, I have conversations with myself about topics, lots of times religious. They end up being blogged, like this one.
A recent running conversation is that Christianity is like going to the movies. For every movie that’s supposed to be great, you have a variety of mixed reviews or mixed reasons why someone didn’t go at all. Everyone has a different response, gets a different message, or might like certain scenes more than others.
If you go to the movies with me, I laugh really [really] loud at parts that lots of people don’t find laughable. Or I’ll let an “OH SHIT!!!” go that other people keep in.
Other people aren’t always that vocal.
Let’s talk about movies
Say you’re out with another couple for dinner and the topic of TV or movies comes up. When you have the shared experience, there’s a lot of, “Oh, and the scene where …” and “There’s that line when …” You fill in the blanks. You and your friends cock your heads back in laughter. There’s a connection built entirely off of a manufactured shared experience.
This is a phenomenon that crosses cultural boundaries. I’ve been with people who spoke very little English, but when shared experience of music or movies comes up, there’s a light in faces like no other.
You gotta see that movie!
Then there’s the movies that one party saw, but the other didn’t. And it’s proselytization time. If your friends didn’t see one of your favorites, it’s time to convince them to go. You can see the correlation, I hope. But if you can’t, there’s a need/tendency/want/desire for believers to share their beliefs with others. They’ve seen the Jesus movie, and they want you go and believe every second of it is true.
It’s weird, because it mimics the little boys in the beginning of this post. But it’s natural, because we all do part of the formula often. It’s just some of us do a better job of letting the movie be just a movie and not a documentary.
For me — when I still believed — I reached an end point to how much I told people about Jesus. I found “witnessing” to be insulting in much the same way as I thought movie and music recommendations can be insulting. It was as disparaging as hearing a song, either loving it or hating it, and telling someone else that. And as soon as you told someone, “Gosh, I hate that movie [or that song]“, you crush the other person’s obvious obsession.
So I try really hard to be casual about movie conversations and recommendations. Try is the key word.
Super powers are real, yo
I watched a few scenes from the Bourne movies over the weekend. And what’s great about the car chases is how “real” they seem. The filmmakers show very little regard for human life. Cars are crashing. The cameras are shaking. Blood and glass are going everywhere. I caught myself thinking, “What if the production team filmed these scenes without closing down traffic? They went out with cameras and shot Matt Damon and some other guys driving really fast around existing New York traffic?”
What if I saw the Avengers and thought the same thing? What if I saw Transformers 3, and wondered how the film crews were able to clean up Michigan Avenue so fast after all that destruction.
What if I read the Bible and told my friends at dinner, “Yeah, a man living in a whale for a few days, a guy with superhuman strength on the condition his hair is uncut, people fed by a five loaves and two fishes! The book was awesome. You should read it. Those things really happened!”
Out of context, my friends would look at me and think I lost my marbles.
Isn’t belief in the Bible — plain and simply — the movie that some people go to and believe it’s real?