Selma, Birdman, Narrative and Redemption

2-3-2 Boeing 767

 

Last week,  I had the unfavorable yet fortuitous opportunity of having the very middle seat of the 2-3-2 seating style Boeing 767-300ER. In this centered seat, I had 10 screens in my immediate view. Because we were largely Americans, we all immediately glued ourselves to the customizable entertainment on the 9″ screens in front of our faces and began watching movies in unison.

 

There were 9 different movies playing on these 10 screens in view. My screen (yes, I am an American too) was playing Selma. The others were playing the films The Imitation Game, McFarland USA, Unbroken, Night at the Museum 3, Taken 3, Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, Birdman… & a non-descript rom-com.

 

I have never watched 9 films at the same time. Periodically, I scanned the other films whilst watching mine. What struck me was how the arc of most stories is the same and roughly in real time.

 

At roughly the same time, drama, narrative tension, conflict, insurmountable odds were all rising.

 

At roughly the same time, the rising action boils over in battles, standoffs, deaths and eurekas.

 

At roughly the same time, relationships find healing, obstacles are overcome, codes are broken, the will triumphs over atrocities, and REDEMPTION is found.

 

Why such uniformity? Are we so uncreative as human beings? Or is there something bigger at play here?

 

Humans love stories because humans crave redemption. We want wrongs to be made right. We want injustices to become just. We want evils to be overcome. We want what is broken to become unbroken.  We want tension resolved redemptively.

 

Man vs man
Man vs himself
Man vs machine
Man vs God
Man vs society
Man vs nature

 

The stories all arc in the same way.

 

We love stories because we image a God who tells stories. We love stories because we image a God who is a redeeming God. We love stories because we need redemption.

 

“He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name!”
Psalm 111:9

 

“And [for all who believe] are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
Romans 3:24-26

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