Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April 1, 2009

Another little piece from my presentation on Monday...

The other day I was in the television room and I came across this film The Truman Show, with Jim Carrey. This guy had been given a very safe reality – a lifelong reality show built around him, but he never knew it – set on an island inside this immense television studio. He had been socialized to stay on that island by keeping him constantly happy and by traumatizing him into fear of the water that surrounded the island. Sounds like the young life of Gautama the Buddha, before the Four Passing Sights led him to begin the quest for enlightenment, but it is also very Biblical. The Hebrew word tehom means both ocean and chaos, and in GN 1 God creates by ordering a preexistent chaotic ocean – which means that God is the provider of order, but also that outside of my neatly ordered world is a scary and dangerous place. Nice way to define boundaries. Anyway, in this film Truman finally can’t live inside the model of reality that had served him for so long – thirty years, the age Jesus starts his ministry, the age Gautama begins his search for enlightenment – so he decides to venture into the chaos, despite his fear, even if death is the result. The show’s producer, less an image of God and more a personification of a deadening and tyrannical order, virtually kills Truman with storms to scare him into going back to safe territory, but to no avail. That old model no longer works, so even if he were to go back, it would be a lie. He sails on until his boat runs into the dome of the “sky” that marks the edge of the massive set that the show is filmed on, and he decides to press on into the unknown world outside of the show. Having faced the chaos of the sea inside that bubble, he was prepared to face the unknown outside of the studio - like an initiation ritual that gives a taste of pain and death to point to the larger truths of both in our lives.