Not that long ago, I watched the film Tree of Life with some friends and promised myself that I would give it the mental attention it deserved. These are the notes I had to work with:
So… when I finally got around to writing about the film, it was too big to smoosh into a single blog post. I pushed it to the place cobwebs creep in my mind and agreed it was something to “come back to” when it didn’t feel like the philosophical dump truck unloaded on my brain’s front stoop.
Yesterday, the Tree of Life found it’s way through the cobwebs by way of another film – a bookumentary. Notes from a Tilt-A-Whirl has been on my “to do” list for an impressive long while. My motivation to see this “idea film” greatly increased when the time on my iTunes rental was running out. Last night, I finally found some kindred spirits who would commit 51 minutes to run after an author’s ramblings. With the storytelling fervor of Donald Miller and cinematography resembling Rob Bell, N. D. Wilson takes you through each chapter of his book, “Notes From a Tilt-A-Whirl” in a way that simultaneously appeals to your mind and your heart. With Creation as his backdrop, Wilson wrestles through topics like philosophy, academia, suffering, and why every person should view life as an art appreciator.
In the hours after Wilson closed his last chapter, I realized why I appreciated the Tree of Life. It wasn’t for it’s overt declaration of Truth or it’s objective dealing with the meaning of life. The most valuable message was one of beauty.
The world is a beautiful place. Scarred, true, but oh-so-beautiful.
Once one makes this admission of beauty, there are more questions to answer.
Where does it come from? Does it always win? Why does it lose? Do we control it? Who decides what beauty is? How many beauties are there – just one kind?
(C.S. Lewis dealt with this subject masterfully in his book, “Abolition of Man” when he discusses the miseducation of children)
All these questions, bound together by the tension in the nature vs. grace conflict, demand resolution. Whether Tree of Life sufficiently answers these questions never concerned me, because I was too busy being impressed by the way beauty and tragedy were communicated so clearly.
But, last night, as we watched Notes From a Tilt-A-Whirl around my 13 inch Mac laptop screen, I marveled that there is more beauty. We were never meant to be satisfied merely admiring the beauty of the Ultimate Artist. We are meant to live the beauty – to interact and understand and breathe the beauty. We are meant to do what is impossible through the One who makes impossible things happen (see Ephesians).
We are meant to look at what has baffled philosophers and tormented academicians and take in all the beauty of Truth with the humble reverence of a child in the dreamiest of castles.
The castle is very much real – there is no use arguing otherwise. We waste much time and miss much beauty by arguing its existence.
More to come… meanwhile, watch the film so I have more people with who I can process its merits!