December 18, 2009

Let's Quarantine all the Defective People

I'm a big Pixar fan. Their storytelling is so tight, it turns coal into diamonds. Seriously, as digital film makers they have complete control over every second of every frame and every bit of every image. That means every detail in a Pixar film serves the film's purpose somehow. Figure out how, and you find new depths in the film's message.

Knowing this, I was surprised at how much time Wall-E gave to the defective robots in quarantine. It just didn't seem to fit the overall message, until I realized - to a robot, all humans are defective. Just like robots, the Buy-N-Large corporation that managed Earth built a life-ship designed to quarantine human error. But by doing that, they effectively quarantined humanity.

Hollywood artists are naturally anti-business and anti-authority, but we all need to find balance between sustaining life and actually living it. Just as importantly, we all have to decide whether to protect young pioneers from the perils of attempting to seize life... or whether to encourage them.

Overall, the movie Wall-E was about a defective robot, enamored with wonderful things, who acted like a human. His defective behavior was dangerous to himself and those around him, but it was also inspiring. Obviously our non-cartoon world isn't always so safe or rewarding, but we do see times when protocols written for survival actually destroy sources of life-renewing energy. Eventually, the status quo serves only itself. The question is, at what point does Life need to be about more than comfortable safety?

One of the more subtle messages of Wall-E is that humanity and defective behavior simply come as a package deal. Large systems can't quarantine everybody, and the more little defects they save us from the more we fall prey to the big defects of the system itself.

So which is worse? That depends. Who decides?

If we leave things up to the Buy N Large corporation, they'll decide what we can handle and what we cannot. If we prefer comfort and safety instead of adventure and experience, that might be okay. But then again... what if one reason God made human beings was to let us exercise?

What if the process really is more important than the end product? What if we wind up quarantining defective people, because they gummed up our plans, and yet that prevents them from bringing us wonderful and unexpected new sources of Life? We might wind up with a world where everyone keeps letting experts decide what's best for all of us.

In the movie, the Captain makes that decision for everyone on board his ship. "I don't want to survive, I want to live!" Happy ending ensues: everyone loves the results, hardship included. In your world, dear reader, the challenge will have more teeth. Still, the reward may be worth it. Do you want to survive? Or do you want to live?

And yet - that's not the big question. The big question isn't - can you trade in an easy life for the difficulties of pioneering experience? The big question is - can you deal with the inevitable failures of yourself and those who go with you?

Big Box Businesses (including the kind with white steeples) tend to cover up the fact that we are all defective people. Do you want more out of Church Life? Get ready for problems.

Real Life and problems are simply a package deal. That seems to have been true even in Eden, and I'm starting to think God intended for us to be less than perfect.



Jason said...

Good thoughts. I wasn't sure what to make of Wall-E when it came out in theaters, but since my kids have watched it a million times at home, I've grown to like it. It is Pixar, after all. Your comment about thinking God may have intended for us to be less than perfect is something I've struggled with of late. I get outdone these days when I hear things like "God created the world but things went wrong," as if God somehow let it slip past him! While the issue of God and evil is a prickly one, I'm not so sure that the Fall, as with everything else, was not somehow intended.

Bill Heroman said...

I think the fall was probably inevitable and so God was prepared for it, but "intended" sounds a bit odd, whether you're Calvinist or not. I don't think God wanted A&E to fall. I think he wanted for them the same abundant Life he wants for us.

Before the fall, however, there were still deficiencies. Not just the capacity for sin, but simple human weakness. For example: Adam either (1) left Eve alone or (2) stood by while the snake tempted her. Great husbanding, dude. (What, was he ADHD?) And why the heck did he eat what she gave him?

We're just not made to be perfect. When Jesus said, be perfect as I am perfect, I suspect he meant that with regards to two commandments only.

Thanks for the comment.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to have to watch that movie again now.

Great insight, Bill.

Sometimes, folks quaranteen *themselves* together by deeming everyone else as 'defective'.

We all seem to be caught in a game of trading one defect for another. Somehow it all misses the point, and yet, as you suggest, it all seems to be according to plan.

Bill Heroman said...

According to plan? I suspect so.

"It's not what you've got, it's what you do with what you've got."

That's what matters.

Jason said...

Bill: I suppose "inevitable" is the better way to describe God's perspective of the Fall. When you say "We're just not made to be perfect" do you mean we as in humanity since A&E, or would you apply that to A&E also?

Bill Heroman said...

I'm suggesting A&E weren't non-defective human beings. I think they had less than infinite IQ and the capacity for mistake making other than outright sin. He might not have paid her enough attention. She might have had headaches too often. If they were human, they were less than 100% efficient, and less than 100% reliable.

I'm suggesting God made imperfect to drive us to Him. Not that it always works...

Brian said...

this is outstanding!

now, i too will hsave to re-watch it, perhaps even buy it.

i also think a lot of us have missed it as to what Jesus meant about being perfect.

Bill Heroman said...

Thanks, Brian. Worth commenting on Blogger, even. Wow. :-)

Jason said...

Brian: I see. I would agree that A&E were perhaps made "non-defective"; but I wonder about their reliability. I suppose one shouldn't equate unreliable (at least in a rudimentary sense) with sinfulness.

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