Monday, August 31, 2015

The demise of hope haters

Each time a "faith-based" movie makes money in Hollywood the critics ask, "How is this possible?" Why do these feel-good, happy-ending, God-saturated films sell so well? (think of the recent big weekend for "The War Room," a movie that I won't get to until it hits DVD.)

Well, maybe we should be asking why happy-ending literature still sells so well. Why do people still gobble up Dickens, the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen, and George MacDonald--writers who have no problem showing the underbelly of humanity, but seem to find joy and redemption in the end?

The answers are myriad, but let me offer one: hope. These authors (and their like-minded film-making contemporaries) believe that hope is a real, living, vibrant force for the human soul.

A movie that ends hopeless or a story that ends in disaster might be honest, but rarely compelling. The characters might stun, the plot marvel, and the climax startle, but if the conclusion ends without a way forward, a way out, or a way beyond, then darkness wins. And there's something in the soul that says darkness will not and must not win. We know that evil cannot have the last word (something modern horror writers have figured out as well). The monsters must be destroyed, the enemies pushed back, despair dissipated.

Walker Percy once said the best books don't lie. (By the way, Percy was able to lace hope in his books that teemed with apparent hopelessness and absurdity. The hope lay in the worldviews and viewpoints not believed by the central characters.)

Books and movies without hope lie. They ignore a universe that was created by One able and willing to come and redeem it.

Hope sells. Hope saves.

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