Idol Chatter

Just before going to see Mission: Impossible III, I caught glimpses of the teaser trailers for both Superman and Casino Royale (the newest 007 sequel). That turned out to be a good thing, since these trailers gave me something to think—and blog—about coming out of M:I:3, which itself doesn’t say much.

But its genre does.

If you like summer eye candy, visualgasm, and plot twists that go beyond even “24’s” obnoxiousness, then M:I:3 satisfies. But I think the real story is in how many, many, many people in our culture are satisfied by a movie like this. Cynics may say it’s because we’re a dialed-down, decadent and dispassionate society contented by fantasy and escape. Even our “reality-TV” shows aren’t much like a reality anybody actually lives. But all of us have within us a God-given sense of what justice is and a God-shaped hole in us that desires a savior. Or at least a hero.

It follows then that if the churches and religions (and religious people) don’t do much for us, we’ll end up reaching out to the characters that bring and fulfill that sense of justice and worldfix we each have within us. Ethan Hawke. Jack Bauer. Jason Bourne. Lara Croft. James Bond. Superman. Batman. The Tuhminatuh. Go back to Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. They’re heroes. They bring justice. They put the world back the way it is supposed to be. It’s a great story. It’s a mirror of The Greatest Story, which much of Christendom celebrated a few weeks ago.

But hero flicks like M:I:3 bring heroism and justice-hunting to light (and sound) in a more visually appealing way with more attractive stars than a church does, even if the depth of the message is a comparative drop in the bucket. This Sunday I’ll be at my church hearing about the Real Savior, who’s authentic heroic acts rescued all of us for all time. And if its gets boring, I’ll remember that the pastor and the music team don’t have the $100-million-plus budget of M:I:3, but the message will be closer to what will bring real justice in the world and contentment in my spiritual life than the hole left when M:I:3 wears off and planning for its next sequel begins.

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