Maybe You Should Watch That Movie Again…

Lots of people barf in the dark, late at night, in their beds. Do you know how inconvenient it would be if you couldn’t flick on a light to deal with it? I can’t imagine, in the midst of the crisis, having to break out a candle or light up a lamp. Modern technology really has its advantages, but it can also cheat us too.

I’ve been immersed in a highly technological world for my entire life – somewhat sheltered from the past, you might say, and it affects everything. This point struck me in one of my classes on the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). I discovered it was the first Council to have electricity (the council before closed in 1870), the first to have most bishops flown in and to have multi-media coverage (including newspaper, radio, and television). And while those things were positive, they also had negative results – i.e. people hearing about the content of the council before the bishops were able to give it proper context (the media also put its own slant on it). But that’s not my point (stay with me on my train of thought). That sent my mind off thinking about the relationship between the past and the present, olden ways versus modern technology.

One thing I thought about were stories and the effect they have on us. I love stories. When I go to the movie theatres, there’s not only a billion movie posters for what’s playing, but there’s also a billion more with what will be playing tomorrow. I find that I can’t keep up with all the movies produced, not only for the theatres, but also for TV (I don’t have cable). A quick glance in a bookstore or library reveals shelves and shelves of fiction stories. Is there too much selection when Kindles are full of 1000 books that might never get read?

Think about the time before TV and movies, when the stories you heard were from books – books that were hard to acquire because of costs. Often times stories would be read over and over and the children would know every bit of them. The tale would become a part of the culture of the family. Long before the printing press, when stories would be even more obscure, they were passed on from generation to generation with great care and devotion. I think we get a bit of a sense of that mythologizing with the trend to “reboot” movies and stories over and over. From Robin Hood (over 10 different movies and tv series) and Spiderman, to James Bond and Star Trek, we retell the story to a new generation.

There’s something human and divine about the telling and absorbing of a story, and I suspect that idea is behind the Liturgy. As God’s love story is retold to each generation, and year after year that we hear it, we absorb the story and it takes root, adding vibrancy to our cultures.

In my family we have a crazy culture that’s almost immediately perceptible. Stick around in our house long enough and you’ll hear someone humming “Far over the Misty Mountains Cold” (The Hobbit) or possibly Isaac (our 2 year old) chanting “Look down! Look down! Don’t look them in the eyes!” (Les Miserables). I can, with ease, use an analogy from The Silver Chair (The Chronicles of Narnia) to teach a lesson, while car rides are filled with radio dramas of stories told over and over. These stories have had a hand in forming both our minds and souls as we hear them, and we pull out different ideas each time.

Do you have stories that you read over and over? A movie that you like to watch again and again? Do you like to hear the same stories told at family gatherings about how parents met, or how your brother broke his arm?

Here are five of the stories that are retold over and over in our family through many different medium:

1) The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings (books, radio shows, movies, toys)

2) The Chronicles of Narnia (books, radio shows, movies [although movies aren’t well done])

3) Les Miserables (radio shows, movies)

4) Ben-Hur (radio shows, movies)

5) Lost (this is the one exception that is not a “family” thing. Colleen and I are in our 3rd time through this TV series… You either get it or you don’t, I can’t explain it).

 by Scott Roy

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