Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tron Legacy

"If you know me, then you also know my Father." John 14:7

This is not your father's Tron. This sequel to the 1982 sci-fi cult classic, Tron Legacy, truly has its feet in the past yet its eyes fixed on the present moment.

The film's story itself is a look at the relationship of one generation and the next - in the persons of Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) and his father Kevin (Jeff Bridges, star of the original Tron), who has gone missing from the world for over twenty years. In the two decades since his dad's disappearance, Sam has grown up - financially rich yet unable to truly connect with anything or anyone in his life.

In short order, Sam is transported, like his father before him, into "the Grid," a neon-bright gaming universe within the mainframe of a computer program. Before being captured and destroyed by Clu, the ageless avatar of his dad who controls the digital population, Sam is rescued by Quorra (Olivia Wilde) and taken to his real (and aged) father, who reveals that he has been trapped in his own creation all these absent years.

Both movies remind us that our work and our own creations can be overwhelming, trapping us in an endless cycle, never sure when or how we'll be able to crawl out.

The first Tron film showed us that hope comes from our friends - in that instance, Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner), or "Tron" in the digital landscape, who helps his friend Kevin escape the Grid in 1982.

In Legacy, quite fittingly, that image of hope is literally passed from Kevin's friend Alan to Kevin's son Sam. Now it is family that comes to the rescue.

We can often get buried in our life's work. Our jobs, our studies, our home projects, our hobbies, and our worries can get the best of us, trapping us in our own "grid," endlessly cycling over and over again. Just when we feel we're about to crawl out, something else surfaces and keeps us in that destructive cycle.

We need to maintain good relationships to prevent that from happening too much. We need our friends, neighbors, and co-workers to reach out a helping hand - and save us from being swallowed by all our responsibilities. But Legacy reminds us that our families are also very important to that equation. Our parents, children, siblings, and extended family can be another life preserver when we're drowning in our work.

Jesus taught us these lessons in his relationship with the disciples (his friends) and with his mother Mary, his foster father Joseph, and his heavenly Father above (his family). He spoke often of the need to connect with these ever-important ties (even the Lord's Prayer begins with the word, "Abba," an affectionate title meaning "Daddy!").

His relationship with his earthly and heavenly family was so clear that, when his friends asked Jesus to show them God, Jesus responded with: "If you know me, then you will also know my Father... Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?" (John 14:7,10)

Despite the long absence of twenty-plus years, the connection was so strong that Sam embodied the same spirit his dad had back in the early 1980s. Sam was a true reflection of his father's legacy, even more so than Kevin's digital copy Clu. This bond was the key to saving Kevin from once again being overwhelmed by his own work in the Grid - and this bond between family is what can potentially save any of us from our own entrapment.

What is this bond that Jesus had with his Father and his holy family on earth? This is a bond that asks us to spend quality time with our family - playing together, talking with each other, and praying with and for one another. Communication, prayer, and playfulness are essential ingredients in fusing the connections that God has put into place in our families.

As seen in the first frames of the new movie, Kevin and Sam had developed a strong connection as father and son - so strong, in fact, that years apart and generational differences could not break it when it mattered most.

What kind of relationship do we have with our families? How do we maintain those blood ties? How do we integrate our friends and families to be the cohesive support network we may need one day to save us from our own self-destruction (or for any situtation for that matter, postive or negative)? And what will be our legacy?

Let us pray, then, for our families - and for any rifts that might be present in those relationships. Let us pray for reconciliation and healing where necessary - and for laughter and joy, prayer and love, and honest and openness to strengthen the blood ties God gave us.

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