Movies, Miracles, and Mel Gibson

Disclaimer: This post is from the archives, and may not represent the current views of the author. It also may not be at all interesting to read. Continue at your own peril!

My cousin recently told me to watch “Signs” – a movie starring Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix, and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Now, just as a warning, there will be spoilers in this post – but hey, it was done in 2001, so if you haven’t watched it by now, it’s probably not a big deal to you if I ruin it for you, right? Anyway, I thought I’d just give a few thoughts on the movie.

First off, as far as the movie itself goes, it was decent. The acting wasn’t impeccable, but it was good enough. And I thought the suspense was kept fairly high throughout most of it, which was good. Shyamalan keeps you guessing right until the end as to what is going to happen. I was really wondering how humanity was going to fend off a huge alien invasion within the last 30 minutes of the movie, but it all got wrapped up neatly. Not to my liking, perhaps, but there was at least an explanation.

However, I’m not doing an official movie review, so I’m not going to say much more about the acting and the plot and all that sort of stuff. I’d like to talk about the meaning behind it – the ultimate message of the movie. Now essentially, Mel Gibson plays a former priest (I’m guessing he must have been Orthodox, as he was a priest yet he was married) who loses his faith after his wife dies. One day he suddenly faces some strange things happening on his farm, and finds that there are some big crop circles smack dab in the middle of his cornfields. He and the other characters try to figure out what’s going on, but it’s a little bland just because you know they’re not going to make a movie about a supposed alien invasion that turns out to be a bunch of teenagers sneaking out to cornfields at night. But at any rate, the strange occurrences increase rapidly, and pretty soon they’re boarding up their house to fend off an alien attack. Mind you, these aliens are pretty pathetic – somehow they’ve managed to master intergalactic space travel, yet they can’t seem to figure out how to open a wooden door. No wonder they leave so quickly! But anyway, the thing that really bothered me for most of the movie was that the whole time, Gibson never picked up any sort of weapon to fend off any aliens that managed to, you know, knock down his door or smash through his window or anything. He knew they were out there, and when they get to the basement, they barricade the door with a pick-axe, but if I were him the first thing I would have done would be to run down and grab that pick-axe. Even when they open the door at the end to see if it’s safe to come out, they just remove the pick-axe and then don’t even carry it up with them!

But with that aside, let me get back to the main point of the movie. Gibson has lost his faith, but through a string of events that some might say were coincidences, he regains it and becomes a priest again. The combination of a) his son having asthma, then later being attacked by an alien and shot with poison gas, b) his daughter’s strange obsession with water and the aliens being allergic to water, and c) his brother’s spectacular batting skills and the need to use a weapon to fend off an alien, all lead him to the conclusion that there must be someone up there watching him and coordinating these events. He sees these as “signs” – from where we get the title – and thus concludes that it was all “meant to be.”

This might be the case. I’d probably conclude the same thing were that to happen to me. It sure can’t be coincidence that the guy with an asthmatic son, a water-obsessed daughter, and a slugger brother gets attacked by an alien who sprays poison gas, is allergic to water, and needs to be hit. I think I’d be more apt to conclude that it was the director who put together these events, but I suppose the character in the movie wouldn’t assume he was in a movie. But yes, I’d probably conclude that these were much more than simple coincidences. But would I return to my Christian faith? Probably not. Think about it: Christianity claims that God loves all his creations. And yet God a) allowed a massive alien invasion, killing probably untold thousands on both sides and many more sick and wounded, b) created a child specifically with asthma just for this one occasion, and c) gave a small child some sort of odd obsessive-compulsive behaviour for the cleanliness of her water, something that could potentially lead to worse behaviour and might need treatment at some point. And all this, for what? To get one man to pick up the faith he left? Such a supposed God would certainly not fit any definition of “love” that I can come up with. Why not skip the whole alien invasion and the asthma and such and just give this guy a portrait of Jesus in his french toast? Or a bona fide vision or appearance? Such a thing would avoid such needless bloodshed and horrible pain.

Now, granted, I’m likely reading way too much into this movie. I’m analyzing it at a deeper level than it was likely meant to be analyzed. But I think it’s warranted. Perhaps these events would signal the existence of some higher power, but I wouldn’t call it a loving God. Maybe Zeus is back and ready to arbitrarily intervene in human affairs again. Or perhaps God is up there but not doing anything, and the demons are the ones setting this up. But a loving God? No, I don’t think so. A loving God would have caused the engines of the alien spaceships to fail. He would have created an unalterable message carved on the surface of the earth for the aliens, saying, “Stay away! Hazardous water!” An infinite and all-powerful God could have come up with a hundred different ways to resolve this situation, all without allowing innocent people to die at the hands of a force they didn’t even know existed.

At any rate, with that said, I thought it was a decent movie on the whole. It seemed a bit contrived, but I suppose that was the point – it was, after all, a movie about coincidences that weren’t actually coincidences. But I liken the philosophy of this movie to the philosophy of religious people after a terrible plane crash. Some people hear about a devastating plane crash where 150 people die and 4 survive, and they say, “It’s a miracle that those four survived!” But wouldn’t the real miracle be the one where the plane crashed and they all survived? Or the one where the plane did not crash at all? No, a plane crash where 150 die and 4 survive is a tragedy. We can celebrate for those who survived, and we can mourn for those who were lost, but such a thing is not a miraculous event. It’s life. So too, on a grander and stranger scale, is an alien invasion where thousands die and one man regains his faith. Some may look at the situation and claim the miraculous for the man and his family, but to me, the real miracle would have been the alien invasion that never happened.

13 responses to “Movies, Miracles, and Mel Gibson”

Cori-Beth

Glad you liked the movie, cuz! It’s one of those movies that you don’t necessarily go out and rent, but will watch on TV if nothing else is on.

I think the movie Tortilla Heaven has an image of Jesus in a Tortilla. Total flop from my understanding as it only was shown on the west coast of the US.

I also kind of liked the ending of Signs. It wasn’t complete, but complete at the same time. Some parts of this movie were just down right hilarious… not sure if that was the point, though. Maybe that was the miracle???

I hadn’t quite seen some of the points of view that you had with this movie, I guess I’ll have to watch it again. That is if nothing else is on! (-;

Corinne

feeno

Jeff

‘Sup Holmes?

I have got a great story for you about the night I went and saw the movie Signs. About 2 years before that movie came out I was the youth leader guy at my church. We were a very active group, not only in trying to do outreach stuff but we also did a lot of hanging out with each other. We went to concerts, movies, shows, and went camping a few times. We were at a farm in Kentucky for about 3 days at a Christian rock festival. Kinda like a Woodstock for Christians. (without the sex and drugs.) You know what I mean. But I remember at night telling the kid’s about some of the “urban myths” in and around our town. One of which was about “the light” this is a story that takes place at the end of a dark road out in the boonies, you back your car into the edge of a cornfield, turn off your engine and then flash your lights 3 times. Then you wait for the “ghost” riding a motorcycle looking for his lost love.

I told this story several more times to them at other camp outs and activities we’d have. They always were on me to take them to see the ghost.

I always played it off like it was to scary, and that I have actually seen this ghost and I didn’t want anything bad to happen to them. But of course as teenager’s they weren’t scared and they could handle it. I set this trap for about 2 years.

When the movie signs came out around here it was Halloween time.
So I let them think that they talked me into taking them to go see the movie, then drive out to see the ghost.

So I packed 22 kids in a 17 passenger van, and off we went to go see signs. The movie was creepy enough to have their little imaginations running wild, yet the assured me they were up for the task of seeing the ghost. (especially the those tough teen age boys)

I’m sure you know where this is going, but in case you don’t, one of my best friends is an old school biker dude with big, loud
Harley-Davidson’s. And we pulled off the greatest prank of all time.

After the movie I drove them out to
oxford-millville rd., backed my van into the cornfield and turned off the ignition. Flashed my lights 3 times and waited. My dude Geno, about 2 miles up the road fired up his Harley and came flying up that old scary dark country road.

The closer he got, and the brighter those lights got, and the louder those pipes got the screams of pure panic set in like you’ve never heard in all your life. Not one kid was willing to stay, the all were crying for their mamas and peeing their pants and pleading for me to go. Some of them are still having nightmares because of that trip. (yes, I’m proud of that.) And to this day I have never told any of them, that this was a prank.

Well my friend, once again thank you for your site and for me to have a place to write this sort of stuff.

I know you were making a point or two on your “critique” of the movie signs. The next time I write I would like to discuss the whole “How can a loving God allow this to happen” question. That is if you don’t ban me for off the topic dribble.

Also, I’ve been waiting for this post so I could give you my e-mail address. It is feeno@fuse.net
The reason I wanted you to have it was because I wanted to send you a book my pastor/friend wrote. When I asked him to sign a copy for you he suggested I wait a few months because he’s writing a new book that he thinks would be a great book for you?

Anyways, talk to you soon. Peace Out, feeno

Jeff

Haha feeno, I have to say that that is one of the best practical jokes I have ever heard. Totally hilarious! I think the best part is that you never actually told them it was all a prank…that’s just great 😀

feeno

Jeff,

I think I was your 1000 visitor, do I get a prize?

BTW I’ve spent about the last hour or so, reading a lot of your old posts. I started with Nov. 04 and read about 3-4 a year up to the present time.

I don’t really have words? You are a great guy, so don’t take this the wrong way, but after reading all that I put myself in your parents shoes and wondered what I’d do if my little girl came home from college and said “Guess what daddy, I’m an Atheist. I think on the outside I would have done exactly what your parents did.
But I know on the inside I’d be feeling very confused? Hell, I thought when I heard her say that she wanted Obama to be our next Pres. I’d have a heart attack.

But after the reading the early years of Disjointed Thinking I never would of thought this kid would turn out to be an Atheist. So really there is no reason for me to think that one day you wont return to what you believed as a young man? I’m not saying that as a put down to what you now believe, just I find hope in you “returning to the fold”.

The one thing that stands out to me in the story of the prodigal son, is the little phrase “when he came to himself”.

I don’t think we get saved by saying some “magic words” or reciting something some one tells us to recite. I think it is when we “come to ourselves”. Now trying to explain that might be a challenge, but if you would like for me to elaborate, I will?

Peace Homie, feeno

Jeff

Hey feeno,

Well, that’s actually pretty impressive. I rarely take the time to wade through my ridiculous amount of blog entries…apparently I have too much to say. But yeah…well I didn’t exactly put it to my parents like that. I haven’t actually even told them “I’m an atheist!” and I probably wouldn’t say it like that anyway. I’ve told them I’ve been having serious doubts, and they were very supportive. I have been meaning to solidify it for them, but I’m kind of waiting for the right moment, and it hasn’t seemed to present itself. But you’re right – I hate having to do that to my parents. But at the same time, I think they deserve to know the truth about what I believe and such.

And I agree with you…I never would have ever thought that I’d seriously say I didn’t believe in God. I’ve likely even said that several times in my blog over the years. I used to think atheists were crazy – or at least, I thought they were “fools”, like the one Psalm says about “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.'” And so I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I’ll never go back, because I really don’t know. I can’t tell the future. And I suppose that if at some distant point in time God actually decides to respond, then my beliefs may change. I’m open to that. But considering he kept his mouth shut when I was on my knees begging him, I just don’t see it as likely anymore.

I suppose perhaps I see my de-conversion as “coming to myself,” rather than the other way around. When I look back at some of the posts I wrote, I see me parroting back what my high school teachers taught me. And now I see this period in my life as the time where I figured out what I believed for myself. I thought I had already done that in high school, but apparently I had some more figuring out to do. So who knows? How does one tell when one is crazy, or deluded, or brainwashed? It’s hard to say. Maybe I’m the one that needs to “come to myself,” or maybe you are. Maybe I’m just rambling on now with no point. But whatever the case, like I said, I’m always open if God decides to show up. It’s his move right now – the ball is in his court. But until he decides to do something, I’m not going to sit around wasting my time on a God who may not exist. I simply can’t anymore – it’s just too painful.

So there you have my ramblings. Perhaps I’ll shut up now 🙂

feeno

Jeff

I think the visitor register log thing is broke, or you had 100 hits last nite?

You are a very thoughtful person, when the time is right you’ll be able to gently tell your parents.

Life sure can be ironic some time, I remember when my cousin had to sit down with his parents to tell them he was a Christian.

Every time I see one of your posts over at Mr. Loftus’ site I read it. And I’m impressed with the way you can hold your own with people like akakiwibear, who in his own right is quite intriguing. My point is only you know your feelings, and only you know what your brain is processing, so I wont ever tell you that you must do this or that, cause what the hell do I know? But I wish those times that you were earnestly seeking direction from God, and he wasn’t responding to you, that you would have just been satisfied to have been pissed at him? We’ve all been there.

BTW, I don’t know why it is so easy for me to believe, maybe I am delusional or crazy. You’d have to rule out brainwashed cause I was living “outside” the church for a long while and I had no reason to seek him except for the fact that I couldn’t get him out of my thoughts and or conscience.

I hope this doesn’t sound like an insult, but you might/could be a Christian? Even the disciples prayed to help their unbelief. Since I’ve been talking to you and been on John’s site I’ve said that prayer myself several times.

Oh well, now I’ll quit rambling.

Are you gonna have any time off over Easter, I’m picking up my daughter thurs. night. She wrecked her car, and I can’t afford to get her another one anytime soon. But the car she wrecked still runs great, we gave it to a young couple in our town and he drives it every day to work.

Am I still rambling?

Peace out amego, feeno

Jeff

Hey feeno, what visitor counter are you talking about? Because I don’t have any on here that I know about…

But yeah…I wish that I had been able to stop at just being pissed off at God. That’s where I was for a while. But I don’t think I could have lived like that permanently. It’s like being in a bad relationship – after a while when things just aren’t working out, sometimes it’s better to just end it. It’s not exactly the same, since most people don’t decide that the other person didn’t really exist, but it’s similar. It’s better to move on with your life rather than live with anger.

At any rate, I don’t know what you mean about “you might/could be a Christian.” Like, as in the whole “eternal security” where once I’m saved, I’m always saved no matter what? Well, if that’s the case, then great! I don’t see it as fair, but I guess if God wants to let people like me into heaven, that’s his choice. I’m not going to complain 😛

Yeah, I’m going home for Easter. We’re just starting into the exam period next week, so I’ve got a nice little break right now. Ouch though, what’d your daughter do? And if the car still runs great, why’d you give it away? But either way, I guess someone’s getting some use out of it, which is good…

Have a good one!
Jeff

Kevin H

Signs made me jump! I thought I was immune!

There are also some thematic similarities in this movie and a new one out called Knowing.

Jeff, on a side note. I’d like to continue our conversation away from Debunking Christianity.

Can we talk some more either here or you can e me at kevin7harris@gmail.com ?

Kevin

Jeff

Hey Kevin, thanks for dropping by! I would watch “Knowing” but I’ve sworn off Nicholas Cage movies. Every time I go to see them I’m disappointed 😛 Anyway, I’ll send you an email and we can talk some more – I think we might have been talking past each other, so it might have caused some misunderstandings. Anyway, thanks for the comment, and I’ll talk to you soon!

Jeff

Ian

Interesting thoughts, I enjoyed reading your work. I couldn’t help but comment though that doesn’t a plane land without an accident every minute of the day? I realize that is ignoring the sentiment…just my two cents.

feeno

Dude

There is one Nick Cage movie worth watching. Valley Girl. Trust me Holmes if you can find it, watch it.

Late, feeno

Jeff

Hi Ian,

Haha, reading over what I wrote again, I see your point. A plane landing without incident may not be “miraculous” – but I think it would be more indicative of a loving God, at any rate. Thanks for dropping by!

feeno: Are you sure? I looked it up on IMDb.com and the plot sounded a little…cheesy. Lol anyway I’ll keep it in mind 😀

feeno

Jeff

Oh yeah, it’s cheesy and it is predictable, and it is juvenile, and it is AWESOME.

And actually the soundtrack is really good as well.

Problem is you might have to get a BETA machine to watch it?

See ya bro. feeno

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