Month: May 2007

THX 1138: A Lucas Dystopia

George Lucas’ sci-fi film THX 1138 (starring Robert Duvall and Pleasance) was recently remastered and released on DVD. As Lucas points out, the film was originally released in the 70’s, drawing on a variety of materialistic, consumeristic and upside-down issues in the U.S. The avant garde dystopia was way ahead of its time in cinematography, sound and production. The sound-track alone is stunning.

Lucas’ use of fuzzy pictures, minimal camera movement, and straight lines convey the atmosphere of a sterile future, where humans function in highly controlled underground society, much like Huxley’s Brave New World. In high irony, the central character, THX 1138, spends his days producing the robot police that rule over him.

Sex is prohibited, humans are on a steady diet of behavior conditioning drugs, and they confess their struggles to a picture of a Confucius looking Jesus, who responds with predictable tape-recorded lines: “You are a true believer. Blessings of the state, blessings of the masses. Thou art a subject of the divine. Created in the image of man, by the masses, for the masses. Let us be thankful we have an occupation to fill. Work hard; increase production; prevent accidents, and be happy.”

There is an familiar eeriness to these pat, pre-recorded spiritual answers, answers so many Christians spit out when challenged about their faith, in life or by opponents. Does this raise any thoughts or reflections?

Of course, there is a clear critique of Marxian ideals, of state-power over all aspects of life, of the state-as-religion. There are endless themes to discuss in this film. Rent it with friends and discuss it.

Religious Exclusivity: Tim Keller

Perhaps the greatest perceived obstacle to world peace is religion. A torrent of books have been recently published that argue for the demise of religion–Christianity, Islam, Judiaism, etc. U.S. politics and the war on terror have only fueled anti-religous sentiment, whether anti-Christian or anti-Islam. However, in his triology (The Next Christendom, The New Faces of Christianity, God’s Continent) Philip Jenkins has compellingly argued for the revitalization of world religions, especially Christianity. Thus, many people have accepted religion but relegated it to the private life, refusing admission into the public square. Biblical Christianity will not permit a privitazation, but claims to affect the whole person and ways of life. So it goes with atheism, Buddhism, etc. All belief or anit-belief systems–religions of thier own–color every person’s way of living. The all important question is not “How can you be exclusive?” but “Whose exclusive beliefs are most compelling, peace-promoting, society-renewing, and true?”

The death wish or privitazation of religion is not the solution to world or personal peace.  In his sermon, “Exclusivity: How can there be just one true religion?” Tim Keller of New York’s Redeemer Church addresses common objections to the exculsivity of religious claims and the Christian response.