Thursday, August 21, 2014

Five Reasons from Great Literature to Watch the Film, "The Giver"

I highly recommend that everyone see the movie The Giver because it has a theistic worldview that portrays life as valuable and understand the true nature of love. As I watched the movie for the second time, I heard and saw a variety of things that reminded me of different works of literature I have read. So, in interest of getting you to watch the movie, here are five connections I made:

1. The Terrible Burden of Free Will. The primary argument between the Giver and the Chief Elder is whether people are capable of handling the free choice. The Chief Elder argues that "people are week. When given the choice, they choose wrong." Did you know that this same argument occurs in unforgettable fashion in Fyodor Dostoyevsky's book, The Brother's Karamazov? In the chapter entitled, "the Grand Inquisitor," a Spanish church official confronts Jesus Christ with the accusation that His devotion to protecting human free will was the greatest mistake of all history. And, you have to read the book to see Jesus' response, and Dostoyevsky's, to this charge. (Might be quicker to watch the Giver, but I recommend watching AND reading!)

2. The Risk of Love. The Giver and Jonas argue that the price of love is worth the cost of suffering, pain and loss. The movie even includes a Christmas carol at the end that, to me, brings to mind the moment when God demonstrated His willingness to embrace our suffering nature by becoming incarnate in Jesus. This theme is found in many Scriptures, but extremely prominent in C.S. Lewis' books Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra. In Out of the Silent Planet, the angel who rules Mars and its people speaks of how God, on earth, has "taken strange counsel and dared terrible deeds." One of the greatest theological conundrums is the risk that God takes in becoming human... all out of love.

3. Sameness is not Equality. The Community eliminates race and envy by eliminating all significant differences and demanding obedience to a social standard. In Wrinkle in Time, Madeline Le'Engle evaluates the differences between being the same and being equal, establishing that sameness eliminates the need and desire to love, and love brings an equality to all humanity.

4. Life is Precious and Valuable. The turning point of the movie involves the life of a baby, which certainly speaks to our culture in which infant life is often seen as an inconvenient consequence of sex. In Kazuo Ishiguro's book, Never Let Me Go, a dystopian reality in which colonies of clone humans are raised, educated and harvested for their organs illustrates the incredible value of life. The book revolves around the desire of one of the clones to have a baby, and challenges its readers to think through the meaning of existence.

5. All Things are a Miracle. The film teaches us to see all the events of our lives and wonders of the world around us as miracles. No book (outside the Bible) teaches this lesson better than G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy. Chesterton tells us that trees grow fruit because they are magic trees. Water runs downhill because it is enchanted. And, God commands the sun to rise, the flowers to bloom, the body to breathe anew each day, each moment because He never ceases to take joy in His creation. Can we do the same.