Saturday, August 07, 2010

Did You See What I Saw?

We watched the movie:  "The Invention of Lying"  the other night. It was ultimately intended as a comedy but I think it was also intended as an attack at organized religion and any belief in God at all.   Spoiler alert:  if you haven't yet seen the movie there are a few plot points revealed in the next few paragraphs.

 The people live in a world where not only do they always speak the truth, but they also must be brutally honest and have no filtering mechanism whatsoever.  In other words they say exactly what is on their minds in a very unvarnished way.  Then one man inadvertently discoverers that he can lie and because no one else does people believe what he says.  He begins to lie to make the world better for himself, creating a world the way he wants it to be.

When he visits his mother in the hospital and her Dr. has informed her that she will most likely die that day and it will be all over. The son panics and tells his mom whatever he can think of about an afterlife that he thinks will make her happy as she dies, and the Dr and Nurses hear him.   When word gets out that he knows what happens after you die he has to explain how he knows so he makes up a reason for how he came to know this information and what it all means.  No matter how simple the message he was trying to impart, people kept twisting it or hearing what they wanted to hear or just jumbling it into a huge mess, so he kept having to add more and more detail

It was really interesting to me as a commentary on the difficult task of the theologian.  Theologians have the task of creating apprehension of the ineffable.  They try to keep their explanations simple, but just like the man in the movie, no matter how simply they try, people hear what they want to hear, or get the message muddled.  The theologian thinks his message is very clear yet the hearers can't or won't hear it as clearly as he presents it.

Or maybe I was just projecting my own frustrations at trying to write simple essays on theology into this little film. 

Why don't you see the movie and tell me what you think.


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