A Dreamer Walking

Invisiable Ink- Finding Salvation

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on July 2, 2011

As a Christian I believe in the concept of finding God and being saved through Him. Unlike most Christians I do not think you can find salvation through saying a few words, “I believe in Jesus”. In reality I believe salvation is a continuous journey. The journey is full of ups and downs and many of the lessons are quite hard to learn. Salvation in my opinion is not about being saved from a hell after you die, it is about finding God here and now and learning to truly live through following Him.

I see most stories as a salvation stories. The main character of most stories is forced into a journey where he somehow finds himself and his (or her) reason for living. You see it happen again and again in film. A good example would be Dead Poets Society. In Dead Poets Society we follow a boy named Todd Anderson (Ethan Hawke) who is very insecure with himself and tries his best to be unnoticed by anyone. However the great plot twist in Todd’s life comes when he is introduced to two people, a roommate named Neil Perry (Robert Sean Leonard) and a English Professor named John Keating (Robin Williams). Neil and Professor Keating begin to push Todd out of his comfort zone. They push him to realize and express his talents and become a individual rather then part of a collective who’s only goal is to stay alive, without really living.

You can not have a journey without struggles. Todd must face his fears in order to get past them and find life. Brian McDonald in Invisible Ink refers to this as ritual pain. Ritual pain represents the pain the main character goes through in order to find salvation or fulfillment. McDonald uses the examples of tribes in Africa having rituals for boys going into manhood. Many tribes have their children go through some kind of pain to be considered a man. Sometimes it is some kind of scaring or tattooing. Sometimes it involves sending a child off on a hunt for a beast. Usually the children learn something through going through these pains that helps them prepare for manhood. They often feel reborn and ready to deal with the challenges of adulthood. In most films we symbolically observe the ritual pains of a child becoming an adult. Whether it is a old man who needs to open himself up to relationship after his wife passes away (Pixar’s Up), a spoiled business man who needs to see value in others (Rain Man), or a boy who needs to stand up and find his own voice (Dead Poets Society), we are seeing characters who are going through a ritual pain in order to find salvation on the other side.

“Everyone wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die”, D Nix (quoted in Invisible Ink). Most all of us would say we want to live life to the highest extant, yet few of us are willing to get off our butts to do anything. In film the ritual pain usually comes against the protagonists will.  Todd for example if fine with not being noticed, its Neil and Professor Keating who push him to go through the ritual pain of becoming a man. Neil convinces Todd to join the forbidden Dead Poets Society and keeps on pushing him to become a bigger part of the club. Professor Keating wants Todd to express himself through writing and poetry and gives him the assignment of standing before the class room to recite a poem of his making. Professor Keating tells Todd in the movie that he knows this assignment scares the shit out of him. The task is indeed Todd’ ritual pain. It is a vital scene in the movie where he goes from being scared of hearing his own voice to realizing he has something worth saying. Here is the scene from Dead Poets Society. Notice how Professor Keating expresses to his class and us the audience exactly what Todd is scared of the most. Through exposing Todd’ fear Keating is able to help Todd face it.

Professor Keating is not just telling Todd to not forget what we just saw, he is telling all of us to not forget. This scene represents what is so great about the movies. Movies are not supposed to keep us where we are comfortable. The best kind of movies in my opinion are the kind that push us out of our comfort zone. Seeing the transformation of characters like Todd are supposed to help us in our own transformations. We can learn from the entertainment we see. Seeing how others find God helps me find Him in my own life. Characters like Todd inspire me. I see them face their greatest fears and come out on the other side.  Movies like Dead Poets Society, The King’s Speech, Reign Over Me, and Schindler’s List, are the films that impact me the most because I see people in those movies who truly find salvation. They find God in their own personal way and through finding Him they are able to truly live.

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