Good morning, everyone! How do your stomachs feel? Yesterday, most Americans sat around the dinner table with family and friends and gorged on a traditional turkey dinner. I hope yours was as delicious as ours. Many gave thanks to the Lord God for the blessings in their lives while more than a few gave thanks to a non-existent entity taught by their religion or to some vague “cosmic force” because they don’t know the true Lord. Some didn’t thank God at all because they either doubt or deny His existence.
How does a person make sense of life without the Lord? What do they really have without God? They chase from one pleasure to the next trying to fill that void in their soul that only He can fill. Over the holiday season, many people will flock to movies theaters. It’s a tradition for many families. Hollywood keeps cranking out “product,” bringing short-lived happiness and fulfillment to people, many who are generally unhappy with their personal circumstances and are looking to temporarily escape from their doldrums for a couple of hours.
These days, I’m not much of a movie or television fan but in my younger years I also chased after the fleeting sensation of connection and fulfillment a good movie could provide. I don’t remember the exact year, but when I was a young teenager I watched a movie on television titled, Splendor in the Grass, which featured Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood. Bud and Deanie were high school sweethearts and the most popular couple on campus but life intervened and took them in separate directions. In the final reel, Deanie visits Bud who she hasn’t seen in quite awhile, hoping a spark of romance remains in their relationship, but Bud has a wife and children at that point and Deanie’s hopes are dashed. What? I mean, WHAT??? Movies aren’t supposed to end that way! I took it for granted that Hollywood provided pleasant fantasy rather than tragic realism. Because the film had a ring of truth and authenticity about it that was rare to encounter, I became curious about the director, Elia Kazan (in center of photo with Beatty and Wood), which began a lifelong interest. What a character!
In the months ahead, I’ll be reviewing all of Kazan’s 19 films from a Christian perspective. Kazan was an atheist who tried to make sense of a world without God. It’s a sad story but there’s plenty of lessons for the non-believer and believer.