Movie critics in the United States have been reviewing a recent film with an unusual title. This is also a film with an unusual focus: quantum physics and the power of thought.
Two articles in the Oct. 14 issue of this newspaper, "Small film, large questions" and "How quantum physicists 'review' the 'Bleep' movie," do a good job of analyzing the content of this cinematic phenomenon. Equally interesting is the question of its remarkable popularity.
Why would a movie with this unusual focus generate more than $5.7 million in box-office receipts less than a year after its release? Having seen the film and read the reviews, I have a few ideas on this popularity.
As long as men and women are defined as part spirit, part matter, the human spirit will naturally assert its own rights and resist confinement within the laws of matter. One way to free the human spirit might be to find loopholes in the very laws of nature that seem to constrain it. The movie's claim to do just this has generated vigorous discussion.
As this discussion goes forward, however, another alternative should not be ignored: that men and women are fundamentally spiritual and ultimately not subject to the laws of matter at all. This idea is not new. Almost 20 centuries ago, the apostle Paul preached, "The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly" (I Cor. 15:47-49).
Here is an idea that goes far beyond a few loopholes in the laws of nature - that we whom the natural sciences currently define as products of animal evolution and who too often see ourselves as flawed, material organisms will put off this earthy image and see and be seen as heavenly.
One thing the Bleep movie gets right is this: We need a better view of ourselves, of others, and of creation itself. But I believe this better view must be rooted in the first chapter of the Bible, where male and female were made in the likeness of God and where "God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good" (Gen 1:31).
The Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, valued this better view of ourselves as hard won and worth everything we do to get it. "Through repentance, spiritual baptism, and regeneration, mortals put off their material beliefs and false individuality" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," page 242).
Perhaps one reason that Christianity is not more popular is this demand for repentance and regeneration. Some years ago, the humor magazine Punch pictured a Christian Science church with a message board giving the subject of that week's Bible Lesson: "Everlasting Punishment. All are welcome." Punch's caption? "No thank you."
Not to take away from a truly funny comment, had Punch gone to that Sunday service, they would have found that Mary Baker Eddy taught that sin is punished only until it is given up. That is what repentance and regeneration are about, giving up sin and escaping sin's self-punishment.
As fascinating as quantum physics may be - and I've taken enough graduate courses to know that quantum physics is really amazing - even more amazing is the Christian offer to put off the earthy image, put on the heavenly, and to escape the laws of matter entirely.
They that are after the flesh
do mind the things of the flesh;
but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded
is life and peace.
Because the carnal mind
is enmity against God:
for it is not subject to the law
of God, neither indeed can be.
So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
But ye are not in the flesh,
but in the Spirit,
if so be that the Spirit of God
dwell in you.
(For more on the Bible Lesson, see www.tfccs.com/weeklylessonsermon/)