Monday, October 19, 2009


"How beautiful you are... how pleasing... my love, my delight!" Song of Songs 8:7

Surrogates is set in the not-too-distant future when technology has advanced so much that humans can control a robot to walk around, go to work, and interact with others - to be their "surrogate" while they stay safely in the comfort of their bedroom all day long.

It doesn't seem hard to believe. If the internet can serve as our primary communications tool in the early 21st century, how much farther along will it be when we'll use the technology to do more than share information online?

In the movie, this comfortable cycle is interrupted by a brutal crime - where someone has found an even greater technology to destroy not just a surrogate robot, but the end user sitting in their bedroom far away. The surrogate of FBI agent Tom Greer (Bruce Willis) and his partner investigate, only to find that the problem goes deeper than they would have imagined.

Due to an accident with his surrogate, Greer is forced to face the world on his own. Initially shocked by this change of pace, Greer starts to open his literal eyes to the cold, impersonal universe that humanity has developed.

Greer longs to literally touch his wife Maggie (Rosamund Pike) - and connect with her like they used to years ago. But like everyone else in this isolated world, she refuses such barbaric ideas.

With all the technological tools at our disposal (like this very blog), how much are we relying on it to make our mark on the world? While Facebook is a wonderful invention, is it starting to replace real social networking done in person? Neighborhoods are already impersonal, with neighbors hardly knowing the name of the person who lives five yards away.

When society starts turning impersonal, our faith challenges us to live without our surrogate technology. In the Scriptures, the beautiful wisdom book, The Song of Songs, expresses this desire for humans to be in touch with each other. The poet declares quite vividly, "How beautiful you are... how pleasing... my love, my delight. Your very figure is like a palm tree... I will climb the palm tree and take hold of its branches..." (Song of Songs 8:7-9a).

The poet here longs for real human interaction, to quite literally touch another person. The question comes back to us in today's world: when was the last time you were hugged? If you're in a relationship with someone else, when was the last time you held hands or kissed?

Sometimes we are too busy or too anxious to be close to someone else. It's much easier to write an email or make a comment on Facebook. It's quicker to text them than to actually talk to them. Or our impersonal nature prevents us from really showing someone else we care. But like the poet of Song of Songs, let's take hold of someone else and draw them close to us.

Surrogates shows us the dark future - when we have let machines do our connecting for us. That future doesn't have to happen. We have a choice. We have each other.