In C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Aslan, the Lion, who is a picture of Jesus, speaks these profound words about the nature of reality, “though the witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know.”
All around us, every day, there are deeper things going on that most people never slow down long enough or dig deep enough to realise. Yet in those deep things are secrets about life that are profoundly significant.
C.S Lewis once wrote, “A man’s physical hunger does not prove that that man will get any bread; he may die of starvation on a raft in the Atlantic. But surely a man’s hunger does prove that he comes of a race which repairs its body by eating and inhabits a world where eatable substances exist. By the same logic it would be strange indeed if people felt thirst if there were no water, loneliness if there were no friendship, “in love” if we lived in a sexless world.”
Some years ago I began to notice something. I noticed that whenever I asked people their favourite movies there was a pattern to the responses. By favourite, I mean those movies that people keep coming back to over and over again. Speaking with guys in particular, they would almost always come up with films like, ‘The Last Samurai’, ‘Kingdom of Heaven’, ‘Lord of the Rings’, ‘Shawshank Redemption’ or ‘Gladiator’.
In his journal article, ‘Why readers read what writers write’ Hugh Crago writes, “We fall in love with particular books precisely to the extent to which they correspond to what is already potentially inside us…But as with lovers and friends we do not simply see ourselves in the mirror of the other; we also learn new things, extend our inner worlds, enrich them and furnish them with new possibilities…And our lives, literally or symbolically, take on the shape of the stories that mattered so much to us.”
I think this is true for films too. I have a theory that the movies people watch again and again are saying something about the deeper realities of their hearts and lives.
What if, like the ungodly kings of old in the Bible, who had dreams which required Godly men to interpret (think Pharaoh with Joseph and Nebuchadnezzar with Daniel), a modern day king – named Hollywood – has dreams that are once again awaiting prophetic eyes?
Could it be that God might use the movies we love to call to our hearts about the profound truth that we find ourselves in a story far grander and more dangerous than we have really understood? Could it be that these stories are telling us about the courage, bravery and significant role God has called us to?
It is hard these days for most people to see where the attributes of heroic living are needed. To the natural eye, our comfortable western lives look mostly mundane – make a little money, have a little fun, set up life so that any surprises along the way can be smoothed over without disrupting our lifestyles too much. That is what the natural eye would tell us. In our safe societies, unlike the heroes and heroines in the movies we love, it would appear we have little to fight for.
Yet, would you lend me your prophetic eyes, would you dare to look a little deeper and let those dreams that are now buried beneath the mundane awaken again? For while it is difficult to see in the natural where the strength of heroic living is needed, it is needed, desperately; and it is needed in a greater measure with more courage and more wisdom and more heroism than would ever be needed in a physical adventure alone. For all around us, every day, people are dying. They are dying emotionally and spiritually. It is not hard to notice if you will but look a little closer, listen a little harder. Those people need us. They need us to be strong and courageous and wise for them, just like the characters in the movies and books that we love. We’re living in a war in case you haven’t noticed.
My favourite scene/quote from ‘The Last Samuari’ is the one that follows:
“So you will die by your own sword, in shame? Shame for a life of service and discipline and compassion?”
“The way of the samurai is no longer necessary.”
“Necessary, what could be more necessary?”
And Jesus did say, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) That sounds like an invitation to a pretty epic life to me.
I sense in you even before you have read this a feeling of skepticism. But I ask you to consider it. I ask you to observe the movements of your own heart in response to this possibility. What if the movies you love were saying something about who you really are? What does that make you feel? After all it would be strange indeed if there were thirst without water, loneliness without friendship, love in a “sexless” world.
And at the end of the day, at its core, this is about coming alive. For to become aware of all that you are and all that you are meant to be, to spend your life doing what it is that you were born to do, what could be more life giving than that? Not just for yourself but to everyone and anyone you meet.
Ecclesiasties 3:11 – God has set eternity in the heart of man…
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs rather ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman
“The glory of God is people fully alive; and fully alive consists of beholding God.” – St Irenaeous
For those who might object to the idea of God speaking through film…
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