FCC 153
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On this episode of Finding Christ in Cinema, "we see the light, oh we see the light" as we look for Christian themes in Jeff Nichol's slow-burn, sci-fi hit MIDNIGHT SPECIAL! Who is Alton Meyer, and how can we know him? What does this mean for Christians? All that and more in 3, 2, 1!GUEST(S)
Scott Kelly of Reel World Theology@scoke15
Hey, come on in. Admission is free. Grab a bowl of popcorn (extra butter, of course) and find a seat smack dab in the middle - It’s time for Finding Christ in Cinema, episode 153.

I’m Michael, I’m Brenden.

Join us and together we’ll dig deeper into the silver-screen classics of yesteryear as well as the box-office hits of today, we’ll take a closer look at the stories they tell, and see if we find the face of Jesus looking back.

We’re gonna explore the deeper meanings of these films; the plots and their twists; the characters and their choices; and how we can relate them to the gospel of salvation, and ultimately our Christian walk.

You are tuned in to Finding Christ in Cinema on the GCTNetwork.

CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON | FCC152http://fcc.gctnetwork.com/152
BLTShout Outs!

Michael Shannon as Roy Tomlin
Joel Edgeton as Lucas
Adam Driver as Paul Sevier
Sam Shepard as Calvin Meyer
Paul Sparks as Agent Miller

Jaeden Lieberher as Alton
Kirsten Dunst as Sarah
Bill Camp as Doak
Scott Haze as Levi
David Jenson as Elden
BLTLosing a child = car wreck = powerful metaphor = Jeff Nichols's genius

"Sometimes, we're asked to do things that are beyond us."
-- Roy is being asked to give up his son...an impossible task
-- The only way Roy can accomplish his super-objective, though, his by completing the impossible task.
mhPeter and John: We cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.

How much Christian imagery can one film hold? Chronicles of Narnia, anyone?

What kinds of reactions are shown by those who have met Alton Meyer?

Calvin Meyer builds a cult (the Ranch) around the boy.
• Insular; secluded; mind control
• See Doak and Levi for the results

Elden only wants to “see again” for his own purposes
• Not involved in Alton’s life, or his best interests
• Still a cult member: “Do you miss it, the Ranch?” “Very much”

Paul Sevier sees; he has a personal encounter with Alton that changes him.
• Missional minded

Agent Miller, et. al never see; their hearts are dull.
• Seeing you will see, and not perceive, etc. Isaiah 6:9f; Matt 13:14f; Acts 28:26f

Lucas has seen and keeps on seeing and is transformed into a disciple; one that cannot help but to speak the truth - because their is freedom and life in that truth.
• Alton is exactly who he says he is: from another world
• John 8:23 ESV - You are from below: I am from above. You are of this world: I am not of this world.
• Greek - kosmos; something ordered, an ordered system. In Greek writings from Homer down, and apt and harmonious arrangement or constitution (Thayer’s)

He is a picture of Peter, James, and John. They saw and they had to testify of who they saw. How could they not?

Transfiguration Matthew 17; Luke 9; Mark 9:2-8 AMP
Acts 4:18-20 NASB
And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

Acts 5:27-32 NASB
When they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them, saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.”

2 Peter 1:16-18 NLT
For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the powerful [power — Grk. dynamis; force] coming [presence (YLT) — Grk. parousia; a being near, i.e. advent, coming, presence] of our Lord Jesus Christ. We saw his majestic splendor with our own eyes when he received honor and glory from God the Father. The voice from the majestic glory of God said to him, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” We ourselves heard that voice from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain.

1 John 1:1-4 NLT
We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life. This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us. We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.
BLTAlton's gift is unbelievable, but he invites us to "come and see."
-- His mother and father in the beginning (before the film)
-- The people at the Ranch
-- Lucas at the beginning of the journey
-- Elden while on the run
-- Paul Sevier while in captivity
-- -- His father again...at the end of all things...
-- -- -- But his father already knew!!!

Lucas wasn't ready to go on this adventure...but Alton invited him to "come and see."
-- SFX #1

First antagonists...then evangelists

Sometimes, in order for some people to believe the unbelievable, all they need is an invitation to experience it for themselves.

Evangelism is one beggar showing another beggar where the food is.
John 1:46 NASB
Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip *said to him, “Come and see.”

------- -------

Henrik Ibsen - Dramaturgy of Fear
--- Seeing fear in a character evokes sympathy in the audience.
SFX #1: 45:20 - 46:05
...until three nights ago, there's a knock at my door, and there's Roy...standing there with Alton. He says that they're in trouble and they need help. Then Alton sat me down, and he took those goggles off...You know when that boy does that...that thing with his eyes...it's powerful.
SDKMIDNIGHT SPECIAL - an allegory for losing a child
-- We can take this theme (with an emphasis on loss) two ways.
-- 1. The actual passing/death of a child (into what we would call Heaven)
-- 2. A child growing up becoming their own being separate from their parents

1. There are many quotes that allude to Alton's "premature" "passing" into the next life.
Q1 - Even though it's an antagonistic character saying this, we see that idea reflected also in our main protagonist characters. How hard is it to say goodbye? Especially to someone so young? How hard is it to help usher someone in to their next stage of life that doesn't involve you?

Q2 - Denial is ever present. You pray and convince yourself that someone can and will get better, but that isn't always the case, and it's hard to cope with that. Not just with children - with younger adults too, (Nabeel Qureshi example)

Q3 - As Christians, we know that this home, earth, is not our true home. As the song says, "This world is not my home / I'm just a'passin' through." In John 18:36, Jesus says as much when he states, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” (James 4:13-14)

Q4 - But even knowing that we're not of this realm, we still worry about those who are getting closer to that other realm, those who are ill and possibly dying. Though we know Christians will be healed completely and transformed into beings beyond our imaginations (re: heavenly bodies), we still love them enough to worry about their well-being here and not want them to leave our realm. Our duty as Christians is to care about them. That's the deal.

Roy and Sarah won't lose their child Alton forever, and they know this as they finally come to terms with Alton's departure. When Alton leaves, he returns Sarah's nod of assurance before he closes his eyes and vanishes in the light. When Alton - and the previously-unseen world around him - disappear, Sarah becomes emotional, looking up to the heavens in anguish, but quickly gathers herself together and smiles at the empty wheat field that she last saw her son in. In the last scene we have of Roy, he also looks up to the heavens, his lips forming a small smile, and with a certain "glimmer" in his eyes...

2. The story can also be seen as an allegory for letting one's child go. As they grow up and mature, our children will eventually leave us. They may not all leave the family unit, per se, but they will depart from our homes to go on to live their own lives apart from their parents' lives. That's a frightening thing to think about as well, and the younger the child is, I believe the concept is harder to fathom. Nichols himself says this theme is at the heart of the film. (Quote)

Visions of Heaven
-- Alton gets better when he witnesses the sun ascend (the Son ascends!) and realizes where he's from, and sees the other world - if just for a brief time.
---- The ground literally splits via earthquake underneath Roy as he holds Alton when this happens - Roy's foundation is shaken and fractured.
-- The film doesn't call this unseen world "Heaven" but it accurately visualizes these two planes of existence interlocking with each other.
---- The otherworldly-looking buildings are built upon our own buildings! They've been interacting with us this whole time!
-- This showcases the classical Christian way of conceptualizing Heaven - it isn't "out there" or "up there," but instead right next to us, separated only by a thin veil and our ability to concieve of it.
Jeff Nichols on Midnight Special’s origins:
“When I was writing this, my son, Sam, was about a year old. And he had a febrile seizure. What I realized through that experience was that, “Okay, now I have this child that can be injured, damaged, put in pain. And if it is, then I’ll experience that same injury, and that same damage, and that same pain. And I have no control over it. That idea, really, was the basis for Midnight Special.”

Hebrews 13:14 NASB
For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.

2 Corinthians 4:15-18 ESV
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

James 4:13-14 NASB
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.

Jeff Nichols on Alton & kids:
“I think our kids are gonna be who they’re gonna be and you have to understand that. And you have to have faith in the idea that they’re going to be okay as long as you support who they are.”

Jeff Nichols on child perception:
“My wife and I were living in this really small house. And, literally, we could hear our son cough and sneeze while we were laying in bed. This very young child has no idea that there are these people right next door, just on the edges of his perception, that care for him very, very, very deeply. And that’s really where this other world came from in my mind.”

N.T. Wright on Heaven in
Surprised By Hope:
"What we are encouraged to grasp precisely through the ascension itself is that God's space and ours - heaven and earth, in other words - are, though very different, not far away from one another. Nor is talk about heaven simply a metaphorical way of talking about our own spiritual lives. God’s space and ours interlock and intersect in a whole variety of ways even while they retain, for the moment at least, their separate and distinct identities and roles. One day… they will be joined in a quite new way, open and visible to one another, married together forever.”

Luke 18:15-17 ESV
"Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
Q1 - Doak (antagonist from The Ranch) - “Sometimes we’re asked to do things that are beyond us.”

Q2 - Car scene: Roy fights with Lucas -
“No, he won’t die, he’s meant for something else.”

Q3 - Sarah - “What if Alton doesn’t belong with us? We need to consider that, come tomorrow, he may be gone.”

Q4 - "That's the deal." - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0po5gdaj4dI
What Christian themes have you found in...?
UPCOMINGA sneak peak at what is coming up next episode. This is a TEASE to convice folk not to miss it!
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