This is the conclusion of movie/book month. I wanted to conclude with The Giver, because it allows me to bring a theological idea forward. It can transition us from a short meditation about a movie, to the hard work we are going to begin in September.
The Giver is a book/movie about an apparent Utopia. There is no illness. The weather is always temperate. Everyone is content. It's only as you dig into the story you learn these perfections can only be reached by sacrificing in terrible ways. There is no illness because the very young and old are sent "Elsewhere", which is a veiled word for death. Not only is the weather temperate, everyone is temperate. Everyone takes medication to make personal weakness go away. Sameness is not possible with color, music or love, so those things don't exist in this Utopia. The story follows Jonas, a person who was chosen to be a receiver of all the memory the community no longer remembered. He learned through past events that the bad things still exist, they were just hidden within the system.
I want to introduce a sentence we will dig deep into in a few weeks, but let's beginning looking at it now:
How a person defines a word is more important than the word itself.
If you want to know the reason I don't use high church words, it's mostly because of my denominational context. We understand that people define those words differently depending on personal context. This goes for really high church words, and simplistic church words. Actually most words have different definitions depending on who is using them. Sin, for example, can have multiple definitions. I'm not going to go into anyone else's definition, but let me give you my definition:
Sin: Any action that draws us away from God.
To connect to this movie, I want to talk about a specific kind of sin: communal sin.
Communal Sin: When an action that draws us away from God becomes a social norm.
With individual sin, a person is damaged in drawing away from God. With communal sin, everyone is damaged and the individuals who try to steer the community back to wellness is punished by the community.
Let's take Martin Luther King Jr. as an example. The world was/is living into the communal sin of racism. King exhibited the highest form of moral justice by purposefully breaking the law, and accepting the punishment for doing it. Why did he break the law? Because the laws were created out of communal sin. When King broke the laws, even though those laws were wrong, he was punished for it. MLKjr wanted wellness for a broken community and was punished for seeking it: communal sin.
In The Giver, Jonas wants wellness for the community. He too is going to be punished. (I won't say anymore. I suggest you check out the book, or watch the movie.) Needless to say, The Giver is a hyper-realistic view of our reality. Movies tend to go to the absurd to make a point. The question becomes: Are we too living into a communal sin we might not even realize because the sin has been accepted by the community? Something to think about. When we are living in communal sin, it's not as obvious as government mandated pills, but like those pills it numbs and blinds the problem through becoming a social norm. I'll leave you with this: What are we blind to? Are there people who are trying to draw us closer to God? Something to think about.