Editor’s note: We’ve had (more than) a few guest posts about The Hunger Games, but we didn’t want to miss pointing out another recent movie that lends itself well to student ministry: John Carter. Greg Escher recently saw the movie with his son and wanted to share his thoughts on this sleeper movie with a great message.
In the Disney adaptation of Edgar Rice Burrough’s story A Princess from Mars, we find a devastated man who arrives home after an illustrious career in the Confederate Army only to return from war to find his home and family incinerated by fire. Devoid of all feeling he sets his heart on gold prospecting and living the life of ease, the life of the affluent on the western frontier.
Though he is pursued by the Cavalry because of his superior skills he has resigned himself to be a nomad. In the course of his flight he does a good deed and it leads him to the cave of men from mars who have a sinister scheme to make slaves of the universe. His otherworldliness makes him an asset on Mars- he can jump really high! At the last moment, in the nick of time, he finds love and foils the diabolical plot and saves the day. His name is John Carter. The initials are J.C. Burroughs is best known as the author of Tarzan who, raised by the jungle animals, becomes a messiah figure to the jungle.
These stories strum the chords of the human heart and awaken something in all of us as Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has put eternity in our hearts.”
What resonates in all of us is this profound unrest in the midst of cosmic struggle. We believe that ultimately there is no hope and all efforts are futile yet something within us sees the injustice and feels the call to give all and be the change.
Where would the world be without the William Wilberforces who is credited for making the savage slave trade illegal? Where are the Martin Luthers who rediscovered the lost gem of “the just shall live by faith” in the face of a corrupt abusive institutional politically powerful church? Where are the Martin Luther Kings who in the face of segregation and racial humiliation refused to submit to injustice and set the course for racial equality for all through nonviolent civil disobedience? The list goes on. What about Moses? What about Gideon? What about John the Baptist? Jesus? Paul, the apostle?
Last week we were invited to the home of my son’s fiancé (or betrothed) family. They had invited us to the celebration of Purim or the festival of lights. We read through the 10 chapters of the book of Esther. Every time we got to the name Mordecai we cheered and used our noisemakers, when the name of Hamen came up we booed and hissed. Esther, as you know, was the stunning beauty queen replacement to Queen Vashti who refused to come to her Persian King’s side at his inebriated whim. A jealous plot to annihilate the Jews was uncovered by Mordecai, an uncle to Esther and her surrogate father. Mordecai had distinguished himself through his loyal protection of the throne. Esther, stunning in her beauty, wins the contest to become queen.
Listen to wise Mordecai’s words to Esther in 4:14. Esther, of course uses her position to appeal to the King. Haman is hung on the gallows he had built for his nemesis Mordecai. The edict to annihilate the Jews, a unreversable law of the Medes and the Persians is countered by a second law that enables them to fight back. Esther saves the day. The name of the Lord is never mentioned in the book of Esther. It can’t be found in Edgar Rice Burroughs books either, nor in C.S. Lewis Narnia series or J.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings yet read between the lines is the story of redemption and radical personal sacrifice that save the day.
It is the “between the lines” story of your life.
I asked this haunting probing question after we rehearsed the story of Purim. Do you suppose that there could have been someone with the position and the power and the presence that could have saved the day during Hitler’s Holocaust? There was silence.
Here is a haunting parallel in Ezekiel 22:30. “I sought for someone to stand in the gap but I found no one.”
The scripture says, “the eyes of the Lord go to and fro over the face of the earth to show himself strong on behalf of those whose hearts are perfect toward Him.”
I think of our city and the economic reality. They have closed the pool, they are shutting down the three State parks closest to my house, the seven bus lines serving our Mendocino schools are being cancelled, businesses, restaurants, and B and B’s are closing, homes are being foreclosed on.
In an obscure out of place scripture in Ecclesiastes 9:14-15 we read about a nameless, faceless man who saves the city, not by his wealth but by his wisdom. We all wish we had money. John Carter wished for Gold. God is looking for availability.
In the movie John Carter slavery and serfdom seem certain. In the story of Esther annihilation is momentary. The odds are insurmountable; the resources meager. What the enemy does not factor is wisdom, availability and sacrifice. In a word, God.
We are in difficult times. How do you know you are not here for such a time as this?
In Isaiah 6, God says: “Who will go? Who will I send?” Isaiah said, “Here am I, send me” Isaiah’s name means “God is salvation, Yahweh is messiah.”