[Soundtrack to this post: ‘Lucky’ | Radiohead]
Last night saw the first part of ‘Lost’ on TV in the UK – a programme I think has already shown in the US.
I didn’t see it, but as I read a review of it, I couldn’t help feeling that there have been an awful lot of these sort of shows about recently:
Castaway, Survivor, Big Brother, The Island, I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here… All of these shows seem to have a common root of restriction, imprisonment… and the need to escape.
What it is about these shows that is so attractive?
Maybe they are tapping into an ‘escape fantasy’ – the desire to break out of our humdrum existences into something higher, bigger, better.
But I’m also wondering if these shows say something about a strange desire to be in these tragic, isolated, imprisoned circumstances. I mention in the book about the strange relief that comes over us when we are put into a situation that means we can totally abdicate responsibility. Escaping our responsibilities, rather than escaping back to them.
If a jet crashes on a deserted island, if I am ‘castaway’, if I am locked away in a house for 12 weeks then the mobile, the emails, family, work, relationships, church – all these can suddenly be forgotten. We can be released from the stress by this ‘ctrl/alt/del’ that is thrown us by the gods.
More than that, if we are in these situations then we are suddenly heroes: tragic figures at the mercy of Mount Olympus, to be pitied by all…
This may be a hard thought to swallow, but is there a small, jealous, ego-driven part of us that actually wants to suffer one of these things – then everyone can pity me and all the normal detritus of my stressed, insignificant life can be forgotten? We certainly feast on them when they do… that delicious nano-second of Schroedingian uncertainty just as the radio is seeking stations, the TV tube is warming up and we wonder “has something really actually happened today?”
This is part of the ‘fantasy life’ that we need to escape. Jesus faced it in the temptations in the desert… A choice to live out some ego fantasy, or actually chose to live in the hard, responsible, often boring reality that life is day to day.
The Emerging Church is not emerging survived from the burning wreck of a tragically downed church; it is altogether less dramatic 99% of the time, so it must make these hard choices to if it to grow into maturity: to chose to realize that not every day will be heroic. Not every day will be a huge battle against the rest. Not every day will be fun, exciting, important, new, better, right…