Benjamin Franklin famously said, “When in doubt, don’t.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes famously said, “When in doubt, do.”
John Heisman said, “When in doubt, punt.”
Bill Blass said, “When in doubt, wear red.”
And, of course, Mark Twain said, “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”
There is a scene in the 2010 Academy Award-winning film The King’s Speech in which King George VI of England sits with Princess Elizabeth watching a news reel of a Nazi rally in Germany. On the screen, Hitler yells and gesticulates to a mesmerized crowd. From her chair, Elizabeth asks her father, “Papa, what’s he saying?” The king answers, “I don’t know, but he seems to be saying it rather well.”
It is a pensive moment for the English king, because he is Hitler’s counterpart in England, and he lacks the ability to speak well. The king is perpetually tongue-tied with a debilitating stammer. So long as he cannot speak, the venomous voice of Hitler goes unchecked. And thus, the king is desperate to find his voice.
I have always resisted the urge to preach an Easter sermon about the caterpillar, the chrysalis, and the butterfly. These are, indeed, ancient Christian symbols of rebirth, but these days they are also in the same category as the “Starfish” story and other such memes that appear on gauzy inspirational posters, bumper stickers, and Facebook postings. Or else, our cultural image of the caterpillar is from Walt Disney. I’m personally reminded of Squeaks, the caterpillar in The Fox and the Hound. Throughout the film (which was released when I was nine-years-old and is thus my favorite Disney movie), Squeaks evades two cartoon birds, and at the end he emerges from his cocoon as a grinning purple winged butterfly Squeaks, giving the audience a warm and fuzzy feeling. You can see, I think, why I have avoided this symbol in Easter sermons. The chrysalis is too easy. It doesn’t challenge, and its comfort is of the feather pillow kind.
Yeah, I know it’s kind of strange
every time I’m near you;
I just run out of things to say.
I hope you’ll understand.
Every time I try to tell you
the words just come out wrong.
So I have to say I love you in a song.
This morning a friend on Facebook forwarded this link to me. Read it before reading my post below:
People are sure talking about this movie…
I don’t know Brian Mattson, but his take on the film “Noah” is fascinating. He may be onto something. Mattson certainly gets the broad strokes of ancient Christian Gnosticism correct. I know virtually nothing about Kabbalah, so I’ll have to take his word there. Mattson’s take on the zohar mine is tantalizing. I wondered throughout the movie why Aronofsky had invented such a weird element. Whenever the characters are in darkness and need light, they crush zohar, and it illuminates like phosphorous. This symbolism certainly contributes to Mattson’s interpretation of the movie as the revelation of hidden Gnostic light.