February 11, 2011 / Mediation, Uncategorized
In 1991, the Academy Award for Best Picture went to the disturbing psycho thriller, The …
March 22, 2011
It is the liturgical season of Lent, week two. Lent is Latin for “spring,” the season in which life sprouts, blossoms, hatches, emerges forth. The prophet Isaiah proclaims,
The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly,
and rejoice with joy and singing.
Ash Wednesday marks a threshold when Christians leave ordinary time to enter into the journey of Lent through the desert. The desert is that uncharted terrain beyond the edges of the seemingly secure and ordered world, where the dry and cracked places of one’s life move from the margins of one’s attention to the focal point. Fittingly, the Paramount Pictures animated film Rango hit theaters March 4, 2011, the Friday before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. In the film, a chameleon (voice played by Johnny Depp) is thrust from his bleak terrarium life as a pet into the harsh Mojave Desert, where he ends up taking on the persona of “Rango” and quickly becomes sheriff of the town of Dirt. The film is witty and fun, perhaps even over the heads of its target youth audience with references to Hunter S. Thompson and Sergio Leone’s genre-defining spaghetti Westerns. The film follows the familiar motif of a lone soul searching for his authentic self–the spiritual journey, really.
During Lent Christians face themselves fully in the harsh desert of their lives, critically looking at where they are thirsting for God and what aspects of their lives are drained, dried up. Rango as a film certainly is not meant to be metaphoric of the Christian journey in Lent, however the film’s movements invite the Christian viewer to contemplate authenticity and meaning in her life. The town of Dirt in the film is in desperate need of water, and as the characters seek nourishment that is lasting, viewers watch Rango struggle with his various masks and false selves, eventually grounding himself in his own truth with the help of the “Spirit of the West,” who bears an uncanny resemblance to Clint Eastwood and drives a golf cart overloaded with Oscars. The Spirit’s message couldn’t be more Christian: “It’s not about you,” he tells the Hawaiian-shirted chameleon, “it’s about them.”
“There is no greater love than this, than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13