Monday, March 09, 2009

Illustrating Worldviews

Many times movies do a good job of illustrating different world views. In fact, you won't find any kind of media that doesn't come from some sort of worldview. One of the biggest contrasts to me has always been between a couple of movies that deal with women in stressful marriages and how they react to that. These two movies are "The Hours" and "A Beautiful Mind." A full plot summary is not for this post, but I'll give enough so the quotes are understandable. For "The Hours," Laura is a housewife during the 1950s. She's not happy in her very traditional marriage and has contemplated suicide several times. She eventually leaves her husband and children. At the end of the movie though, she returns many, many years later and makes this statement:
From "The Hours:"

Laura Brown: It would be wonderful to say you regretted it. It would be easy. But what does it mean? What does it mean to regret when you have no choice? It's what you can bear. There it is. No one's going to forgive me. It was death. I chose life.

In contrast to this, consider the following situation from "A Beautiful Mind." Alicia is married to a brilliant and rather eccentric mathematician who sees imaginary people. When the fact that he's seeing things is discovered, it creates a situation where she struggles about whether to stay in the marriage or not. At different points in the movie, she gives these quotes:
From "A Beautiful Mind:"

Alicia Nash: Often what I feel is obligation or guilt over wanting to leave, or rage against John, against God. But then I look at him and I force myself to see the man I married. And he becomes that man. He's transformed into someone I love. And then I'm transformed into someone who loves him. It's not all the time. But it's enough.
John Nash: And then, on the way home, Charles was there again. Sometimes I miss talking to him. Maybe Rosen is right. Maybe I have to think about going back to the hospital.
Alicia Nash: Maybe try again tomorrow.

These quotes illustrate in stunning clarity to me the difference between a modern-day worldview (specifically that of marriage) and a Christian worldview. Both sounds high minded, and one specifically tries to justify itself. Proverbs 26:16 says "The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason." This would also seem to apply to people that wish to abrogate their responsibility. It's easy to come up with reasons to just give up when the right thing to do is so difficult, and if you are a good speaker or writer you can even make it sound good when you give the excuses. These excuses will always be centered on yourself, and all the difficulty it will cause you to fulfill your obligations. They usually won't mention the disaster that will be left for other people to pick up: the financial devastation that will come upon a family, the questions from the children regarding why, and the emotional and other stress that will come to the remaining spouse because of the extra responsibilities. Of course the list of problems it would have caused to simply be responsible will make this list look small. That's exactly what Proverbs is getting at though.

Taking responsibility is not going to be easy. Dispatching the lion from the street is not a simple task, but the consequences of this choice are drastically different. As the sermon this week spoke about, trials don't ever make people faithful. They don't create gold out of iron or anything similar. Trials do however reveal and refine the true faith people already have. They make people patient and stronger overall. That doesn't mean everything will be happily ever after every time. That's what's great about Alicia's quotes in the movie: she doesn't gloss over real problems. It's not about flowery beds of ease. There are real, difficult, emotional problems to be addressed. The damage is mitigated though; the tide stemmed.

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