If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, from what planet does my 14-year-old son originate?
This is the boy who says I’m probably from Sedna – that new planetoid discovered this week just beyond Pluto – because I seem be the only parent on this planet who will not allow his teenager to see R-rated movies.
I’m not usually persuaded by that argument that says that I’m the only parent in the entire neighborhood who hasn’t given his son an assault rifle or a motorcycle. “That dog won’t hunt in this house,” I tell him. “I personally know other parents who run homes free of assault rifles. I have both names on file if you’d like to talk to them.”
That usually shuts him up.
However, my son finally broke through my planetoid defense system when he asked to see “The Passion.” By now you’ve all heard of “The Passion” – that’s the rated-R-for-violence movie about Jesus, “The Prince of Peace.”
Finally, I relented and with a soda stuffed in my cargo pants, we entered the theater and promptly bought a tub of popcorn. I know what you’re thinking – Isn’t eating buttered popcorn while Christ thirsts on the cross a bit sacrilegious?
Well, perhaps, but you’d have to understand that popcorn is my movie ritual and I think Mel Gibson understands rituals. Besides, I fully expected to eat ninety percent of the popcorn during the previews.
Newsflash – there are no previews during this movie.
Perhaps this is why the critics said that the movie lacked context. With no context for commercials, movie-goers didn’t had no cues for thinking. OK, maybe not.
From what I heard, the critics seemed mostly concerned with the context of the graphic violence in the movie – which was mostly why I never finished my popcorn.
However, I will have to admit that as I watched the movie, something did begin to overtake me. And it wasn’t just the nausea I was getting from consuming too much butter while sitting on the second row reading Latin like I was watching a tennis match and all the while watching pieces of skin hurled toward me.
It was a sense of inspiration – a sense that had something to do with context. It was the context of my own faith – or some might say my own worldview. Yes, the movie images did draw me closer to my faith because those images are in the context of my tradition and beliefs.
I found myself humming in the context of that old hymn that talks about “When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died. My richest gain, I count but loss and pour contempt on all my pride.”
My upbringing and my personal journey of faith resonate with one who was willing to sacrificially lay down his life on my behalf – dying for all of us the way he died for each of us and dying for each as if we were the only one he was dying for.
But that is a personal belief – a context for my faith. If you have that context you may enjoy the movie, but you’ll also need to understand and be patient with those who find it offensive in their context of faith or worldview.
It’s like when my friends from my High School Christian club tried to convert our science teacher by proving to her that God was the creator of the universe.
The feat was impossible because she had no context for God being personal to her. Eventually, she married the high school basketball coach and together they shared a personal faith journey that became Christian.
Context. You’ve got to get the context.
We can’t convert one another with movies or books or even really great columns like this one. No, conversion comes through personal encounters with spirituality. Those personal encounters only come as the image of God truly incarnates itself in the people of faith.