Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

"Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So, too, you must also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come." (Matt. 24:43-44)

After watching the wild ride that is The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the thought crossed my mind: what if the world really ends like that?

More questions followed: Do I have any alien friends who might save me from the earth's eventual destruction? Am I prepared for such an event? Would I be comfortable wearing just my bathrobe and a towel as I catch a ride on a passing spaceship? Should I be more compassionate next time I'm watching dolphins at the zoo?

What Hitchhiker's Guide does is pose a lot of questions. I've never read the book, and perhaps if I did, I might not have had so many questions like those above. Martin Freeman (as the main character of the story, Arthur Dent) is truly a great "everyman," more so than most actors because no matter how hard Tom Hanks, Harrison Ford, or Kevin Costner tries to be an "everyman," they are still the ultra-famous Tom, Harrison, or Kevin up on the screen. This "everyman," however, plays it perfectly.

Arthur is just like us, caught up in the everyday issues of life - relationship worries, morning breakfast, and zoning regulations.

How often do we, like Arthur Dent, get caught up in that everyday routine? How often have we taken a look at our life and asked, "what's the meaning?" (and "what have I done with mine?"). Jesus tells us, in true Boy Scout fashion, to always "be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come." (or in this movie's case, when the Vogon ship comes).

But do we really take Jesus seriously? Scientists say the end of the world could be millions of years in the future, and prophets of doom say it's coming any day now. Either way, the question remains: are we prepared and ready?

Beyond this question, Hitchhiker's Guide is full of theological pretzels dealing with creation, the meaning of life, life beyond our planet, the value of human reason and thought, artificial intelligence, the nature of religion and of religious institutions and churches, and the role that God plays in this giant universe. But what the movie ends on, what it seems to be all about, is that the one truth of the universe is "love."

Above and beyond the wild adventures of space travel, the focus of Arthur (and of love interest Tricia McMillan played wonderfully by Zooey Deschanel) is the search for love. This is quite a statement about love because Arthur is shown some amazing things about the ends of the galaxy and creation, but it all seems subpar compared to the search for true love.

This puts it in line with the passage from the first letter of John: "Let us love one another because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love." (1 John 4:7-8).

Perhaps as we take stock of our life in light of Jesus' "be prepared" message to us, we should take stock of how much we really see love of all God's people, our friends as well as those we do not like or those we do not know, as a part of our life. If this were the last moment and the Vogons were about to demolish earth, would I be able to say that I truly loved this world?

What a great question to ponder. Thank you, Hitchhiker's Guide!

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