Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Reflections On Passing Scenes

If someone had never seen a single episode of television ever, and I could show them only one single episode, I'd show them STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE Season 4, Episode 2: "The Visitor". And this scene is the best from that episode. No single piece of media captures more succinctly the transcendent element in the father/son relationship. Your parents are your first priests, and the first to represent God to you. They mediate your relationship with God until you reach adulthood. This moment captures there. There is something so transcendent about the whole thing. It is illuminated on a spiritual level. This is just fantastic television. Of course, there is also the element of the 'second chance'. There is a phenomenology to the experience of getting a second chance, that contains a spiritual depth to it. It is one of those 'mundane religious experiences' I write about from time to time (this would be a good subject for a later blog post.)


"They can be a great people, they wish to be, they only need the light to show them the way." I love this scene. So much of SUPERMAN 1 is taken right out of the book of John, and you can compare this scene to any number of passages from that Gospel talking about Jesus as 'the light' and people seeking that light. I've written many times about the Superman/Jesus parallels. It is because of those that I think that Superman is one of the greatest heroes of all time. And it is all right here. Brando plays such a cosmic god-figure in the first movie, and that too is evident. What a great film this is. We used to to study the Bible earlier in the summer this year.

Have you ever wondered what the meaning of life is? I have. I feel like I found it over 10 years ago in this film. Everything I believe about God, about ethics, derives from the ideas put forth here, which are similar to Viktor Frankl's reflections upon responsibility. I think about the Cross this way. If God died saving our lives, isn't the proper response to life AS IF that were true? Shouldn't this change everything about us? Everything about this scene resonates, to me, with the Gospels. Bill Murray delivers the moment so perfectly. He's spent his whole life trying to figure it all out, and here he lays out what he found, and it is sublime. Even the moment when he so clearly wants to attack Isabelle but only says "it doesn't doesn't matter", this is the proper response to those who reject the truth. It is not our place to judge, and we are no better, ultimately. He knows that, he sees it. Still the frustration at willful ignorance is obvious, and I share it.

This is such a powerful scene, and shows clearly how this film transcends the comedic tradition in which it stands. Ulysses, the consummate skeptic, is laid low by God when he faces the hangman's noose, and the wrath of satan. His prayer is a pure prayer...the prayer of the damned. And the questioned raised is, "might not the damned be redeemable too?" The film's answer is clear. There is repentance here, and a recognition of his true reliance on God. And then, all of a sudden...salvation, in the most surprising of ways. 

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