Movie review - Gravity and parenting

Gravity-2013-PhotosEveryone else seems to want to talk about the film "Noah," but I haven't seen it yet. I'm not sure I want to give my dollars to support it, based on what I know. I do want to talk about the movie "Gravity" however. I've seen it—twice—and I enjoyed it thoroughly both times. No doubt I'll watch it again to pick up some more of the subtle aspects of this incredible movie. Sandra Bullock plays Dr. Ryan Stone, a medical engineer making her first trip into space. A series of mishaps leads to the destruction of the shuttle, which is her ride home, and so we follow Dr. Stone's harrowing quest to return to the world of one G. The story is simple but riveting, and the special effects set a new bar for all space movies. There are even some great spiritual, even Christian, lessons in the film, although I'm pretty sure the makers did not set out to provide them.

First of all, Dr. Stone, though highly successful in her field of medical science, is broken—her soul ravaged by the death of her four year old daughter. The shadow of this event never disappears from Dr. Stone's consciousness. She admits to using her work as a way to ignore the pain.  To me, this raw portrayal shows that life, particularly life in relationship, is more important than achievement. Certainly this is a Christian value.

As a Christian, and as someone passionate about parenting God's way, I find one scene particularly intriguing. Near the end, at the crucial point where the heroine is alone and desperate, she says that she would like to pray, "if it's not too late." She then says "I don't know how to pray. No one ever taught me to pray." I sat up at these words, because this was both transparent and real.

Hollywood movies anger me most when they totally ignore God. They act as if people can go through life never considering the big questions of creation, purpose, and the afterlife. But at least Gravity did not ignore God. As Dr. Stone faces death, she admits, like any rational person would, a need to speak to her Maker. Her problem, as she saw it, was that "no one ever taught" her to pray. It's a very sad moment in the film, particularly as it reflects the majority status of Americans. So many who live in our modern world have never prayed, and they even believe they don't know how. What a tragedy.

Dr. Stone's admission reminds me how important it is that parents pass their faith on to their children, even in the simplest of ways—like teaching them how to pray. I'm not recommending the movie as a way to teach about God. In fact, there's very little reference to Him in spite of His creation so vividly displayed in the movie. Gravity has a PG-13 rating, and I recall a few bad words. It's intense, and more than one person in the room with me closed their eyes during some necessarily scary parts! But I appreciate Dr. Stone's transparency when she faces imminent death.

(Warning! I'm about to spill the ending, so you may want to skip the next paragraph.)

I'd love to have a real life conversation with Dr. Stone. The character had an incredible ride—a brush with death, and she survived! Did she remember her crisis of faith? Did she begin that day to pursue the big questions about God and the afterlife? I'd like to think so, but I suspect the Hollywood version of a strong career woman would fall right back into the head-in-the-sand pursuit of secular happiness. Near death experiences ought to make us change the trajectory of our lives on this earth, because that's a rational response to the prospect of death. Dr. Stone saw death coming, and for just a moment, she at least thought rationally about the possibility of God.

Proverbs 22:3 says "The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, but the naive go on and are punished for it." Anyone who has the sense to see the need to pray when they are facing death, but then ignores that most important question when the emergency has passed, that person is 'naive' and the Bible says they deserve the punishment they get. As parents we have a duty to help our children think about the important questions of life, and the Bible is our only reliable source for the answers.

In that moment, in zero G, Ryan Stone understood clearly the gravity of her situation-- the situation of every person on earth. How about you?

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