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Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Watched Bruce Almighty again last night on HBO. Didn't really mean to watch it as I've seen it before but somehow I plopped down on the couch and got sucked into watching the movie again.

You know, from the advertising campaign for this movie, you'd expect a silly Jim Carey film where he acts wacky and has all these powers. Kind of like The Mask only omniscient. But somehow in a "secular" movie, we got a whole lot of really good, grounded theology. In order for us to enter into the type of close relationship with God that we need, we must fully submit our will to His will freely. I love how the movie makes a consistent point that God can't make us love Him. He creates us, puts our lives in motion and gives us the freedom to choose to love Him. I also love the theme of--sometimes God really does know what is best for us. Witness the scenes where Bruce gets frustrated at all the prayers coming in for just the Buffalo area, so he gives everyone everything they want. Suddenly, people are winning the lottery, shooting impossible scores on the golf course and much more. But there are consequences to all of it--you win the lottery, but everyone else does so you only end up getting $17.00.

And also to Bruce resisting God's will throughout the movie is a great theme. Bruce wants a "special" life--he wants to be news anchor, he wants the glory, he wants the power, he wants to have the beautiful women. But, in the end, we and Bruce find out that "mundane" life is really the special one. Bruce's relationship with Grace, being happy in the job he's in because he bring happiness to himself and others, not coveting things he doesn't really need or want. Bruce has to get back down to the funamentals--getting broken down so far that he realizes he has not other choice but to look upward, into the light and surrended completely to God.

I love all of that. I really think the writers hit the nail on the head with a lot of the theology in the movie as I've outlined it here. It certainly seems to resonate well with me in my life.

Well, except the ending. In the film, we see Bruce finally get around to reading Grace's prayers. And the prayers for him--to be happy, to be satisfied, to find God. Grace prays unselfishly, until the last time when Bruce looks in on her and sees her praying to not make it hurt, to forget about Bruce and how much she loves him. Wow, those scenes hit me hard--a lot harder than they did the first time. I've prayed that prayer. I prayed it a couple of years ago when my baby sister was in the hospital and dying. At that moment, I prayed to God--bargaining with Him. "I am single, I don't have a family. Take me if You have to take someone." I said over and over again. Luckily, God didn't grant that one. But He did give me the gift of my baby sister back. And now, three years later, she and her husband have adopted two wonderful children, who I adore a great deal. One of the real joys in my life is being Uncle Michael to those two kiddies...and to spoil them beyond belief. But had I got what I wanted back three years ago, well, I wouldn't be here to blog about it right now. Also, a lot of it hit me hard becuase of my current situation...how often did I pray for the soon-to-be-ex? And for us and our situation? How much did I deny what God knew was best for me and instead continued to wallow in denial? How much did I shut off those around me who are closest to me and care deeply about me becaues I was afraid to admit things weren't exactly the paradise I'd hoped for? How hard was it to admit that I'd got what I thought and wanted and it just was nothing like I imagined it would be and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't convince myself that I'd ever be happy in that situation? I mean...hearing Grace cry and pray for Bruce and wanting to forget--I've cried that one. (It's interesting that Carey's next film was one about memories being removed, which I've not seen yet but an anxious to see on DVD). But in all of it, I have to realize there are some things I can't change--and that God will take care of it.

Now, I know in the end, we had to see Bruce get back with Grace becuase that's a Hollywood ending. But I ask myself--did they really need to get back together? Was it what was best for both of them? Certainly, we've seen that Bruce is pretty self-absorbed, even before he's granted God's powers. And Grace has the patience of Job for putting up with him all those years. And while I feel Bruce has turned a corner, I'm not sure if he didn't turn a corner that maybe led to life without Grace. Maybe what's best for both of them is to not be together. It's a tough question--and it's definitely not a Hollywood ending.

And maybe part of that is my general outlook right now. Maybe I'm too down on some things due to things with the soon-to-be-ex. Maybe if I watch again in a couple of months or a year, I'll see the ending in a different light.

Ya know--who'd've figured a Jim Carey movie would inspire this kind of instrospection?

posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/09/2004 01:20:00 PM | |
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