Finding God in Summer Blockbusters

by | Apr 30, 2015 | Uncategorized

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Downer Theatre | Flickr User Jeramey Jannene | Flickr Creative Commons

This summer, there are 86 movies coming out between May and August  — get excited!  Can we find God in the summer movies that are known for costing hundreds of millions of dollars, blowing a lot of things up, and sometimes just plain bad (I’m looking at you, Wild West!)? Well, here are a couple movies that I’m really looking forward to, and, perhaps, a new way to view them.

Avengers: Age of Ultron: May 1st– This is the superhero movie that I am most looking forward to this summer, sorry Ant-Man.  Marvel Universe movies add humor in a really good way; they don’t take themselves too seriously.  The movies are what you see on the tin, a group of superheroes getting together to defeat evil…HUZZAH!! To paraphrase a line from Mrs. Potts, “its a tale as old as time”- good vs evil. Pope Francis spoke about this on-going battle between good and evil in our world last year.  He said “the Lord gave this task primarily to the angels: to do battle and win,” Am I saying we should view the Avengers as angels? No. Well, okay a little bit. But this is a daily struggle for all of us, so as we watch the Avengers, think about the people in our own lives who help us in this daily struggle.

I Am Big Bird: May 6th- Big Bird doesn’t get all the cool merchandise like Elmo or Cookie Monster, but she is the gold standard. This documentary about the man who played Big Bird all these years looks fascinating, offering an inside look into someone’s vocation.  Frederick Buechner says “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”  Caroll Spinney (Big Bird) has lived this out.  He found his vocation.  Finding joy and love in our career and our lives is so important.  This documentary can help prompt those important questions in our own lives about where we are being called.

Inside Out: June 19th– Pixar has a pretty solid track record and this film looks like it’ll be added to that list.  It has a stellar cast, including Amy Poehler.  The basic plot is “the five emotions inside a girl’s head vie for control after a life-changing event.”  How do we balance all of our emotions?  Well that is a question we’ve been grappling with, well pretty much since the beginning.  The fundamental part of the examen is paying attention to our inner movements.  Asking us to recall what was moving inside of us, emotionally, during specific moments of the day and asking God to be present to us in those moments.

Jurassic World: June 12thThe park is open!! The fourth installment of the Jurassic Park franchise looks like once again people never learn from the past:  DON’T PLAY GOD!! And while I might not be creating dinosaurs, there certainly are times when I let my own desire for power and control take me down a path I know is not leading towards God.  It’s helpful now and then to remind myself that I when I want to be in charge, when I desire honor and glory, I am putting myself ahead of God. Pope Francis noted during a homily recently that when “we take advantage of faith and are tempted towards power, we run the risk of failing to understand the true mission of Our Lord.” And as the poor people in this franchise have found out, it usually doesn’t end well.

Finding God in all things isn’t easy, especially in movies that seem to be just blowing things up, but the search is always worthwhile.  This summer, there are movies for everyone: big blockbusters, small indies, romantic comedies, remakes, thrillers, etc. So, as you settle into your seat in the theater, in that moment between when the lights dim and the movie starts, and ask, where might God be moving in you this blockbuster season.



Jason Downer, SJ   /   All posts by Jason