Thursday, January 24, 2013

Another Late Night Surprise From Netflix

Have you noticed that all futuristic utopias are dystopias?

Code 46 is set in a sun-bleached future where citizens have exchanged daylight for nightlife, travel is carefully restricted, and a global authority has an intimate knowledge of every citizen’s genetic heritage and uses the information to decide who may love whom.

This 2003 Michael Winterbottom film left some critics non-plussed.  No harm in that.  Many of my favorite films fail to resonate with those who require spoon-feeding and insist on tidy endings.

On the surface Code 46 is a story of doomed lovers, but that is only the first of its many layers.  The very talented Samantha Morton (she who offered the only credible performance in the over-rated Minority Report) is excellent - sad, odd, and quirky - as a young woman who forges travel documents, a special sort of contraband.  The reliable if staid Tim Robbins is put to fine use as a straight-laced fraud investigator whose professionalism is compromised by his empathy.

Written by Frank Cottrell Boyce, the script expresses itself in an clever mashup of many languages and the story evokes emotions I felt watching Bladerunner and Brazil.  It's warmer and more accessible than Gattaca or 1984, which makes it more effective.  As its relaxed pacing draws us in Code 46 begins to play with concepts of alienation and happiness, temptation and longing.  Like a fascinating room featured in the movie, the plot and the characters can't help but see from one end of things to the other, but will not get there by taking a straight path.  At its most exquisite Code 46 examines memory haunted by its alternatives.

In the end Code 46 reminded me of passing through a strange airport late at night.   All the small human stories you see unfolding around you make sense, but none of them are yours. Everything is foreign and uncanny, and all you want to do is get home.

The Last Taboo

Well, one of them anyway...

The Premier Christian Radio program Unbelievable is one of my favorite podcasts.  Yeah, I know; I'm one complex atheist.  I wrote to host Justin Brierley for the first time this evening.  Most any of his programs would be good for a couple hours of discussion, but his most recent program struck a chord. 

I am moved to comment by the arrogance displayed by several of the evangelicals you interviewed for your pleasantly balanced piece on Steve Chalke's public affirmation of committed, faithful gay relationships.  His detractors, who come across as letter-of-the-law pharisees, attempt to dismiss homosexuality as "same sex attraction," a canard that would equate homosexuality with a heterosexual man's preference for redheads over brunettes.  It seems to me that evangelical and other fundamentalist Christians must decide if they will continue to put the Bible ahead of their Christianity, or their version of Christianity ahead of their humble love of Christ.

Perhaps our gay friends are confused when the Bible-believing Christian quotes Matthew 19 to inferentially repudiate their hopes for same sex marriage.

Matthew 19
And He answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?

For it continues...

Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
They say unto Him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?
He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

Our gay friends are no doubt wondering why, since Jesus was explicit on the issue of remarriage after divorce (for reasons other than adultery), why there are so many straight Christians who do not heed the word of their Lord.  There are homosexuals in this world, made that way by a God who created them in His own image, who live more Christian lives than many holier-than-thou, homophobic church leaders who engage in serial monogamy, divorce, and remarriage (adultery, Matt. 19:9).  Jesus had strong advice for people with logs in their own eyes.

The Bible is not the Church.  The Church is people, most especially those who strive to become more Christ-like.  Genocide is now immoral.  Slavery is now an evil.  Miscegenation is no longer a crime.  Beating our children is now wrong.  Women (including your wife, Justin) are not only allowed to speak in church, but to lead congregations of the faithful.  Time for everyone to grow up, to set aside childish things, including highly selective interpretations of scripture that suit only their basest fears and prejudices.

Yeah, some days it's weird being a non-theist who is deeply interested in religion.