Hollywood, it is said, often reflects the mood of the country in what it offers on the big screen. The latest box office hit is “The Hunger Games” – a dystopian story about a nation divided and oppression by a decadent central government. In addition, a remake of the old cult classic “Red Dawn” – about the invasion of the US by foreign powers – is about to be released. Now look at the current political rhetoric on both sides – yes, both sides – a house divided. The Republicans declare that another four years of the current administration will bring us to ruin, while the Democrats claim that a Republican administration will only further divide the “haves” and “have nots” – along the lines of another current dystopian movie “In Time”.
A recent conversation at a party was sparked by a remark about someone having bought a new gun and from there it moved to the question, “How many guns are enough?” Now I have no problem with guns (I own several myself), but when it comes to stockpiling them and ammunition against the “inevitable” collapse of civil society, I think it is time to step back and take a hard look at where we are and where we are heading. During the Y2K scare (remember the anti-climax of that?), I took what I perceived to be some prudent steps in case of problems. My biggest purchase was a portable water filter (which I subsequently gave to a missionary to Africa). The dried goods I had accumulated were donated to a food bank.
So, in this day and age of paranoia what should we be thinking as we look to the future? Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic novel “The Road” (which was also made into a movie about the same time as “The Book Of Eli” – another story of a dystopian future – albeit with a somewhat more hopeful ending than “The Road”), has a father and son scavenging to survive amid slavers and cannibals in a wasted land. So the conversation at the party turned to the question, “Would you even want to survive the collapse of society with all of the implications that brings?” It seems we have a fascination with the potential for the doom of mankind – the remake of “Planet Of The Apes”, “Contagion”, “Mad Max”, “On The Beach”, “Dr. Strangelove” and all those zombie and alien movies – it’s a long list so perhaps it is not such a new phenomenon – just a greater emphasis than before.
In my reading the other day, I came across the story of an early church bishop who challenged a silversmith (now a Christian) who was still making idols out of silver in order to earn a living. The man replied, “I must live”, to which the bishop responded, “Must you?”. And therein lies the rub. Does the survivalist mentality suggest a lack of trust in God’s sovereignty? Must we live if our world falls apart? And are the lies and slander by both political factions only further fueling the paranoia of a nation struggling with itself and the future?