Saturday, January 05, 2008

only a coincidence?

so we watched the m. night shyamalan film 'signs' last night at our reel life: discussions on film and faith. while it could be argued that this movie is kind of corny, and there is no question that it is a direct homage to hitchcock and other sci-fi b-movies from days of yore, i love this movie. i love it in part because shyamalan really knows how to scare you by showing you just enough but not too much. no matter how many times i've seen this movie i am still a little nervous when morgan is standing in front of the coal chute, or when the kids are looking out the window during the brazilian birthday party. but i love this movie for more than its ability to thrill me.

i love it, too, for its confounding ability to get people to really think about God's role in the world. it does a fantastic job of looking at the issue of coincidences versus an immanent God who is involved in even the most minute details of life. do things happen by random chance and luck, or are the coincidences of life not coincidences at all, but little threads in a fabric which we cannot yet completely perceive?

for example, i have heard so many people say that God was with them because they were five minutes late leaving for work and if they had left five minutes earlier, when they would have normally left, they would have been involved in this or that terrible accident. have you heard this? or experienced this yourself? when something like this happens in our own life, it is easy to attribute it to the hand of God, active in our lives. its like God is the one who caused us to burn our toast so that we would have to make it again which made us late which kept us from dying in a horrifying crash. thanks be to God.

but somebody died in that crash, didn't they? somebody's family is finding it much more difficult to find the hand of God in the events of this day. so here's the question for you to ponder this day: did God find it worthwile to protect you by burning your toast but didn't think that the others were worth protecting? is God that involved in controlling the tiniest bits of our lives? or is the burning of your toast a coincidence that just so happened to keep you from that particular accident? is there some other way that you make sense of this scenario?

do you believe in coincidences?


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