Why the screams? One reason, perhaps, is there's a basic plot outline that, time after time, grabs the audience. Were it Mad-Libs, it'd go like this:
Let's plug in the first Cars movie.
Hero: Lightning McQueen
Outer Problem: Gets sidetracked from his big race. Has to repair roads in small town of Radiator Springs. Inner problem: character flaws like arrogance and selfishness.
Justice/Correction: Sentenced by a judge to repair all the roads, and consequentially miss his big race
Grace: McQueen ends up befriending the citizens of Radiator Springs, does good job on the roads (eventually), brings a sense of refreshment and new-ness to the old town. He's allowed, finally, to attend his big race.
*SPOILER ALERT* Redemption: Is transformed in this process, character flaws overcome. Attends the big race, doesn't technically win, but wins the hearts of stadium fans.
Some adults watch these movies and enjoy the occasional current events reference, witty joke, or creative play-on-words. Many other adults despise these sort of Disney-esque movies. The movies are very nicely wrapped, sometimes quite a lot, and that doesn't sit well with many. Yet, we find Toy Story 3 and Alice in Wonderland in the top 10 grossing movies of all time, worldwide. Moving away from Disney but still following the above outline, Pirates of the Carribean, Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings are in the top 5. (Actually, the THIRD Lord OTR movie! Like, the one that was really, really long and took an hour to get through the redemptive portion at the end. Even that earned it $1 billion+) Clearly there's something attractive about what these movies propose!
I wonder if part of the reason so many people are willing to pay billions to see redemption is because we secretly crave it for ourselves. Even the many movies that aren't necessarily redemptive (like the #2 grossing movie of all time, Titanic, a tragedy), it strikes me that they're still put in terms of their redemptive value. "How did the movie end? Did the hero/ine succeed or fail?" the conversations often go. To be fair, there are of course other conversations: artistic value, production value, etc. But compelling stories are compelling long after they're told. I don't know that we find this sticking power with the other convos.
The other day Annie was away for the day, and coming off a stressful week I'd been feeling down. Being the strong, manly, courageous pastor-type that I am, I... ended up lumping out on the couch playing computer games for hours. To my great surprise, this didn't seem to help. So I asked God about this unshakable ick. I felt like God said, "Why don't you go take a walk?" I remember saying something like, "THAT'S your great advice?" To which I felt I heard an optimistic, "Yes, you should totally go do that!" So I did, and, like, it worked. Whatever heaviness was there seemed to lift off. I went onward with my day on a brighter note.
So I wonder if the sort of redemption that's found in following Jesus has as much or more to do with everyday than at the point of death. That's the sort of life that interests me - one where I'm offered real perspective and direction on my marriage, career, and friendships that I need. However compelling a life is that's driven by raw discipline or abstract beliefs and concepts, it doesn't stick with me. But the life that Jesus offers I'm clearly drawn to.
But talk to me - what interests you? Proving what must be my overwhelming naivete, I'm absolutely positive that at some point you, dear reader, will astonish us all and leave a comment, even through the layers of links and clicks it takes to make it happen. Cheers --