Wow. Couldn’t you just hear the sucking sound of the concrete-thinkers slipping out after that last post? Let’s bring it down to earth a bit, shall we? After all, the world is for the doers.
My question tonight is: How are we helping people escape? But maybe first we need to ask what are we escaping from and to? On Extreme Makeover Home Edition, it’s about helping people escape the isolation, abuse, poverty, hunger, loss, anger, depression, grief, chaos, and the general horrors of life. And as we’ve seen, the rescues can take all sorts of cool forms from houses to scholarships, to farm equipment and rehab machines. Basically, the question there is, “What would be the greatest thing we can give you?” And then, “Here you go.” Invariably, it is escape from their current situation in some form or another. And there you have it: The gospel, pure and simple.
With so many alternate realities out there from goth style to online gambling to pretty much anything you can think of, there are ubiquitous and bottomless subworlds out there just waiting to suck up more people. We all shriek and pull back from the thought that we could wake up one day and find we’d all been asleep in pods with metal rods in our bods, but the fact is that all around us, there are people just as checked out, just as isolated, just as incapacitated by their crippling matrix of whatever. I’ll say it only once so as not to stir up any useless apocalyptic panic: this is the beginning of the end.
Dick Staub—who clearly owes me rent for using my brain—has said much the same thing, along with Neil Gabler and others who point to the power of media and its replacement of other cultural and social influences. Many are of the mindset (and I agree with them) that “escape” is the last thing most people need and anyone who’s suggesting we need to help people escape real life must be smoking sherm with Shaitan.
But I don’t think the escape impulse itself is to blame. As Staub points out, C.S. Lewis said, “Nearly all that I loved I believed to be imaginary; nearly all that I believed to be real I thought grim and meaningless…I could almost have said with Santayana, ‘all that is good is imaginary; all that is real is evil.’” (source) Instead, I’m hoping to convince you that escape, while fundamental to our nature as human beings, is actually one of our potentially greatest advantages as artists in saving a few from the other subworlds and snares out there. The wide gates of power, money, and sex will always be a big draw, but each who enters there and abandons all hope, will come to a deeper personal respect for the escape of Christ.
And in my postmodern theology, I believe that ultimate escape is inevitable for us all. Are you working to show them a glimpse of another world worth escaping to? What might it mean if you were the one to show them?
I don’t know about you, but I think it’s time to get writing.