Finding God in the movies

What does a good movie mean to you? For me, it’s something that I can relax and enjoy, taking me away from my everyday challenges, and simply fun. It’s okay if it challenges me a bit, causing me to think, just as long as it’s not hitting me over the head with a message. To my surprise after watching Disney’s live action movie, Jungle Cruise, the thoughts that came to mind were about Jesus!

Perhaps it’s because I watched it just a few weeks after Easter, but when the main character insisted on sacrificing himself for the benefit of the others, it seemed to take on a Christological perspective. It’s not the first movie that I’ve seen that concurs; the Harry Potter saga springs to mind quickly, although I’m sure there are plenty more in the cobwebs of my brain and many more that I have not watched. It’s almost like there is some sort of subconscious need to have these types of stories end with some sort of resurrection of the sacrificed character. I wonder if these stories are the result of 2,000 of Christianity? Have the Passion, Death, and Resurrection been so ingrained in humanity, that it can’t help but to be reflected in the entertainment of the day? Or is it that the peace that the resurrected Jesus brings makes this type of story ending so perfect? 

I must confess there was a part of me that was disappointed when the character was brought back to life. It seemed rather contrived without much creativity: the two main characters argue and in the process fall in love so when the man dies and is restored to life, the two go on to live happily ever after. It was a “nice” finish to the movie and for a relatively family-friendly film, it makes sense for the events to happen as they did. Maybe this ending was best because it has a strong comedy component that it couldn’t have any other ending. 

With all this pondering, it brings to mind a summary of the 17th century philosopher, Blaise Pascal, who referred to humanity as having a “God-sized hole” in their heart that only God could fill. Perhaps this is why resurrection endings are so attractive to writers. In their quest to tell a story, they end up showing a spiritual need for God. It almost seems that the more fanciful, more over-the-top and unbelievable the scenario, the more it makes sense. Is it because, deep down, the truth of Christ’s resurrection fills that longing for God, so that when we encounter it in a comedic movie, it does make us feel like there is a happy ending to life? Or is it because I am a Catholic Christian who is pursuing a closer relationship with the Triune God, that I can see these parallels and these endings do bring me peace because they remind me of Jesus’ resurrection? After all, Jesus did say, “… seek and you will find…” (Matt 7:7)

God never ceases to amaze me in all the different places He can be found. In nature, in art and entertainment, and even in other people, God shows His love in so many diverse and unexpected ways. We can always find God in Church, but let’s not leave Him there; let’s bring Him with us in all we do every day of the week. 

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