Tuesday, January 25, 2011

1 John 4:7

I've found that the more I learn about Catholicism and the deeper I get into my faith, the more I see God - or notice the lack of God - in secular pop culture. My latest victim of scrutiny is a movie I borrowed from the library this past week - (500) Days of Summer.

Yea, they look cute together, but don't be fooled.
I was excited to see this movie because I've heard a lot of good things about it. If you've heard anything about the movie, the basic premise is that it tracks the relationship between Tom and Summer, as it jumps around the 500 days between when Tom meets Summer, starts up a sort of relationship with her, and finally when he has to try to get over her and move on with his life. They tell you at the beginning that this movie is not a love story... which is true. It's not a love story in the way that Hollywood defines "love story"... but it does teach us all something about love... rather, a view of what people do in the absence of feeling that ultimate Love.

To be honest, I was initially disappointed with this movie, because my heart was breaking. Breaking for Tom, as I watched him fall completely in love with the wrong girl. Breaking for Summer, who didn't seem to have any regard for the feelings of others and how her actions affected those close to her. As I was watching, I couldn't figure out why I was being so affected by the movie, by the characters. Then I realized that my heart was breaking for myself too, for the pain that comes from a relationship - friendship or otherwise - where a person says one thing with words, but his or her actions say the exact opposite. Or where a person shows a complete disregard for the consideration of others, choosing to live in a world where "I" always comes first in the alphabet of the world. I realized as I was watching that the reason I was so affected by the movie was because I could completely relate to Tom's character and what he was going through - I've been a part of those friendships and relationships. The sad truth is that many people out there today probably have been a Tom before. Most of us can also probably stake claim to being a Summer, a time where we selfishly disregarded the good of others. It seems that so many people out there in our world have hearts breaking as they search to satisfy the hunger in their hearts, instead finding pain from trying to fill the place meant for ultimate Love with a sad adaptation.

JPII, looking for Love
I suppose that one of the purposes of the arts is to show us a view of our own realities, so we can relate to issues in society in a non-confrontational way. But secular art lacks what Tom needed the most. I've especially learned through reading into Theology of the Body that we all long for a deeper love, and that hole in our hearts is Christ-shaped. So while the movie ends with Tom finding the next phase of his relationship career, he's still searching for that fulfillment from a woman, one who may or may not break his heart. What Tom doesn't realize is that he is longing for what Pope John Paul II called a "beautiful love", which is an invitation to discover the true love of Jesus Christ. So the question is - how do we expose the Toms and Summers of the world to JPII's - and the Church's - beautiful teaches about Love? How do we explain to secular society that Love has been and is freely given to each and every one of us, and all we have to do is invite it in?  If we could find some good answers to these questions, can you imagine how much better the world would be, how much better people would treat others?


  1. This is a beautiful post! I felt the same way about the movie. I just got mad at everyone. Dude, Tom, you asked for it. When you convince yourself that sex doesn't matter, you're going to fall hard. Summer, grow a heart already.

    This is a great message that well all have to hear! Good job, Liesl!


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