Several weeks ago, I went to see a film starring George Clooney called Tomorrowland. To be honest, I was expecting to brace myself against some kind of leftist Earth-first, kill-the-babies-save-the-whales screed while seeking to be entertained by other elements of the story. (It happens sometimes).
But what I found was something entirely different. As a matter of fact, it’s one of the most inspiring films I’ve seen so far this year, and I think it has a lot to say to believers, especially at this point in history.
For those who haven’t seen it, the film is the story of a teenager, Casey Newton—an irrepressible optimist—who receives a magical lapel pin from a young girl named Athena, who (spoiler alert!) turns out to be a robot. Touching it transports her to a utopian world (Tomorrowland), where geniuses turn their dreams into realities and disease is unknown because they’ve found the cures for everything.
As fascinated as she is by everything she sees in Tomorrowland, Casey’s visits are constantly cut short: it seems her mind is there, but her body still keeps physically running into things in earthly reality, where bad news dominates the headlines and the clock is clearly ticking down to some kind of horrendous Armageddon. To get both her mind and body to Tomorrowland, she needs the help of a former boy-genius inventor turned hermit, Frank Walker (Clooney). Walker, however, is as caustic as Casey is curious: Decades earlier, he was exiled from Tomorrowland and his heart was broken.
At one point, Frank—burned-out and bitter—looks at Casey and asks Athena, “Why now? Why her?” And Athena answers, “Because she hasn’t given up.”
Once in Tomorrowland, Casey and Frank discover it to be not as they remember, but a pitiful, burned-out shell of its former self. Even worse, the authorities, led by Gov. Nix (Hugh Laurie) have all the tools it takes to save Earth from its own destruction—but instead of using them, they’ve disbanded the program that brought young dreamers like Walker to Tomorrowland as a child, hoping to hasten the end of life on Earth. In fact, they’re actually causing a lot of the negative things to happen!
“In every moment there’s a possibility of a better future, but you people won’t believe it,” Nix explains when his evil plan is discovered. “And because you won’t believe it, you won’t do what is necessary to make it a reality.”
By the end of the film, Casey and Frank are running Tomorrowland and have not only restored its former glory, but surpassed it. And they’ve reinstated and expanded the production of magical lapel pins that serve as passports for special people—those who are filled with hope and who dream big, positive dreams for the future.
Do you see the spiritual allegory here?
Tomorrowland is Heaven. Athena is an angel figure. Nix is an archetype of the devil, who once was good and seated in high places, but now is the enemy of our souls seeking to manipulate anything he can to wreak havoc on the planet. (Even his name is significant. He wants to “nix” the plans God has for our good. Get it?)
And Frank and Casey represent the choices that lie before us as believers. Do we focus on the headlines and all the bad we see in our current circumstances? Do we grow bitter, like Frank, because we don’t see heavenly patterns becoming realities in our culture—giving up and shutting ourselves off, like hermits? Or do we remain hopeful and engaged, like Casey, seeking Heaven’s perspective on the problems we encounter every day so we can bring the solution to them? Do we believe God really does have a plan and a purpose to prosper His people in the midst of persecution? That where we see obstacles, He sees opportunities?
I believe He does. And no matter what the headlines may reflect at the moment, I honestly believe that we, as the Body of Christ, are about to embark on our finest hour. And we don’t even need lapel pins to bridge the divide between a heavenly perspective and earthly realities: We’ve got the Cross.
Be encouraged, and take heart. Don’t give up. As the tagline for the movie states: Remember the Future.