Posted by: ritagone | November 5, 2014

Probing…But No Answers

focus magnifying glass

 

 

Two pieces of entertainment that I’ve watched this week have made me very aware of a great truth: the secular world knows very well how to dissect, analyze and present its maladies, its isolation, and its problems.

“Olive Kitteridge” was a four-part mini-series on HBO this past week starring Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, and Richard Jenkins, based on a novel by Elizabeth Strout. It tells the story over a 25-year period of Olive, her husband Henry and their son Chris, along with the entanglements of relationships that come along when one lives in a small Maine community and is one of the schoolteachers there. (Her husband is the town pharmacist.) From the beginning, Olive is cantankerous and obnoxious, aloof and unfeeling, cutting and devoid of a sense of nurturing to all around her, including and especially her family. Her husband persists in loving her in spite of her flaws. Her son, not so much, although he tries and tries… until he doesn’t anymore. And who can blame him? She is quite difficult to love or even to like. She is damaged and damaging, and it hurts viscerally to watch her relationships to the people around her. What made her like this? We never find out. Nor does she ever get any relief or improvement in her character, even when she befriends Bill Murray toward the end of the series. No, even that relationship doesn’t seem to save her from herself, and you wonder, as the last episode ends, when this friendship will also cease because of her behavior.

The other entertainment was the current movie “Birdman” starring Michael Keaton as an aging film star whose fame came from playing a Batman-like action hero in three movies and who is now trying to stage a comeback via a Broadway stage play he has produced, written and is starring in. He’s damaged. He’s surrounded by a bevy of damaged people, most of them fellow actors, who are so dysfunctional that they are hard pressed to see their problems clearly much less find their way to answers.

And it was while watching the Keaton movie (brilliantly acted, by the way) that I had my epiphany: why am I expecting solutions to the problems portrayed in these mini-series and films? Why can’t I just dissect the problems, probe around for the cause and discuss with my friends the pathologies of the various characters, and let it go at that? Why am I frustrated when there are no answers from the creative people who bring these works to us who don’t have answers themselves?

There’s a sense of immense relief and freedom that came over me with that realization; I can now enjoy a movie for what it is and not place unrealistic expectations on it.

The truth is very simple: it’s easier for the writers and producers and directors of mainstream media to present their audiences with the problems and pathologies than it is for them to present those same audiences with answers. Because they don’t have the answers themselves to the malaise and dysfunction that are plaguing mankind in the 21st century. They cannot give us what they don’t have.

Whew!

Now that I understand that very basic truth, I can relax when I’m watching anything either on TV or in the movie theater. Because I do know where the answer lies. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me as a follower of Jesus Christ that peoples’ lives get messed up when they try to live life without God and without the moral compass He offers them.

I get it now.

The filmmakers only have the questions.

The best answers come from the moral compass of the Word of God, and a relationship with Jesus.

So simple, yet so profound.

Now I am off to see “Interstellar.”

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