I’m excited to see “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” I may even go see it tomorrow.
It’s a love story in which Brad Pitt plays a freak of nature who is born as an old man and lives his standard, finite life in reverse… starting out with an aged body but immature mind, and then progressing through a 70+ year lifetime until he has the mind of an old man in the body of a baby. Somewhere in the middle, he crosses paths with Daisy, played by Kate Blanchett as the love of his life, whose progress follows the normal trajectory of mind and body maturing together.
Interesting dramatic twist… and some of my favorite actors apparently do a terrific job of breathing life into the proposition.
What interests me most, however, is the on-screen depiction of a biblical idea. It is actually verbalized in the book of Job. There the character of Elihu, a young messianic prophet, paints a word picture of redemption in which “his flesh shall become fresher than a child’s; he shall return to the days of his youth.” (Job 33, verse 25) Clearly he’s not referring to religious conversion in most cases… becoming a Christian doesn’t normally equate to a “fountain of youth” experience.
Bear in mind that I am convinced all people who miss out on the opportunity for Christian discipleship during the current age will enjoy a universal, practically fail-safe opportunity for full redemption in the next age. True Christian disciples, in my view, have most often been persecuted or ignored in their churches or other communities…. unpopular with the worldly but also hated by the “religious” who run most sectarian institutions. So while the perhaps 5 or 10 percent of folks who have truly followed Jesus’ footsteps as authentic believers during the last couple of millennia have experienced a redemption, it has been quite inward and almost undetectable to those around them.
Not so the coming redemption for everyone else. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Zechariah, and indeed all the prophets describe exactly the sort of thing that Benjamin Button experiences, physically speaking. Health. Youthfulness. Happiness. Houses. Food. Peter called it “times of restitution” or restoration of all things. (Acts 3:19-21) All things… including health, life, hope, happiness, and a planet that is in tune with its residents.
But unlike Benjamin, life will not be limited to 70 years or fewer, as most people have experienced it. In the Biblical depiction of world salvation, all people will emerge from the graves with the advantage of previous experience. Their decades of living with love as well as hate will give them a start on the curve of moral development. And they’ll all be walking and working and learning together…. whole genrations at a time. For a thousand years, people will have the experience of being reunited with family, old friends and old enemies, apologizing for past sins, being exonerated for past mistreatments, and coming to grips with what it means to be actualized as a free but obedient, loving, honest, good person in community with the rest of the world. And when the thousand years is past, in the words of Amazing Grace, eternity will have just begun.
Pretty dramatic, don’t you think? GIs coming back to the love of their lives, perhaps to meet the child they never met… And the curses which shorten life, which frustrate all of us, will be gone. The benefits will be especially noticeable to the poor of the world of the present age.
I could give you Bible verses for just about every claim, every phrase …. but it’s too laborious right now… gotta run.
After I see the film I’ll review it and let you know whether it lives up to my expectations.