Marriage as truth.
I watched a romantic film yesterday. I am embarrassed to admit that. I hate romantic movies now. There was something about this film though that kept me watching because it was a movie that doesn't work anymore. And it didn't work for me not because of the genre or the believability of the story or the chemistry between the actors or the writing or the cinematography. That was all ok. It didn't work for me because it was a romantic myth from the decades of the 1980's and 90's that they put on screen in 2008. Older now and married for eleven years I rejected the myth completely. I also hated the fact that I believed the myth for years of my life and so did most of America.
Here was the myth of 80's and 90's Hollywood: Two broken and lonely strangers come together and walk into a future based on romantic possibility ending with a gooey hope they will live happily forever.
The movie I watched a few days ago ended at the beginning of the couples future and we were left to wonder about their success in new love and happiness. As the credits began I gave their success rate a big, fat zero. In fact, in real time their future would have been over before the credits had left the screen. That short. My wife gave it less than zero because she refused to believe in the chemistry between Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson and left the room rejecting it all completely.
I love these actors and it was so good to see "Dusty" on screen again, but it was like watching a Bogart movie without the noir, while I sat and added the noir. Cynicism came over me along with a sense of their total failure at a future. I'm not bitter about romance or the possibility of love happening for lonely people but as I watched I began to ponder the film's message and how that Hollywood myth poisoned love and marriage and fueled an empire of therapists and marriage counselors left to sort out the distortions and drain the poison. I took comfort as I realized I survived the 80's and 90's but those years affected my life and my marriage and I looked at that. I thought about romance and faith and I thought about myth and truth.
I met my wife in a flash of love that overwhelmed me. I tried to build my marriage on that foundation. My brain had been filled with hours of movie viewing by that time but guess what? My wife had watched other movies growing up. She was also a working actress that never lost sight of the fact that film was just characters acting out a written scene with a huge crew standing around behind the camera. Her degree of suspended disbelief in a romance movie was and is zero.
A really bad and necessary wake-up call was waiting for me in my future with my wife.
It was a pummeling. A brutal and relentless shattering of every 80's and 90's flick that I had consumed drove me to total despondency because marriage was supposed to have some incredible soundtrack going on constantly. Romance and feelings and pure joy and Hollywood scenes were supposed to happen every day in my marriage. They abruptly ended only a few short years into our marriage and I was crushed. The myth died painfully and I mourned. The mourning was my reaction to the poison I ingested for years finally leaving my mind and my heart. The truth began to enter in. Desperate for reality to fill the vacuum of what was lost in my marriage.....God entered in. Marriage is not about romance or feelings or happiness, it was not designed for that, it was designed as a hammer to smash us into a pile of rubble where we would be built up into something altogether different. It was designed to make us desperate and hopeful in the same instant relying on God to help us get through and grow.
The myth, the "love" film, that was supposed to be my marriage had to die in totality for that reality to come in. Marriage is mostly hard for me (and my wife) with long seasons of reflections about how much I need God to help me. And His comfort and concern and kindness, along with correction, gives me life and breath and hope.
We would have no marriage without God. Period.
And we would have no love in our marriage without God either.
The sixties rejected marriage of the fifties and talked about free love. I think that happened because of money and greater ease after America settled in after World War II. The fifties was a time of America coming into the zenith of her American dream but then closed with the death of the Kennedy's and M.L.K. and the war in Viet Nam. The dream was over and America reacted with a rejection and a fascination with exploring distraction and dumping every value that seemed like a sham anyway. A schism opened up between generations. The "good war" rescuing the world from tyranny and the war based on lies and greed of Viet Nam, music that you could listen to or wild kids banging on drums and guitars, stoned and screaming with hair flying around, restraint and caution rejected for abandonment and self-discovery. That chaos flowed into the slump and swamp of the seventies, oil embargoes, gas lines, easy divorces, jiggle television, abortions, union busting, discos, corporate expansion into foreign markets, all sliming their way into the cheese and sleaze of the 80's, health clubs, psychology babble, technology, more recklessness with fake money and the gluttony in the Reagan years, AIDS, MTV, cocaine and more oblivion into the expanding bubbles of the 90's, support groups, cable news, strip bars, strip malls, corporate greed, gangs, drugs, urban blight and porn addiction, political corruption and media manipulation: all the fruit then was ripe from four decades of manure and the fruit dropped in the form of two towers rumbling down in plumes of gray ash under a sky as blue and clear as sapphire.
Not in the dark. This happened in a 360 degree bright, light of a day for everyone on this globe to see.
Now we are really going to have to deal with our lives and issues because "the" truth is staring us in the face and there is nowhere to run anymore. We have exhausted ourselves in debauchery and excess as a globe. The emerging markets will now mop up and run out the clock. There is no distraction anymore that works, and most of us that use it know that facebook has to go in our lives. We need reality.
We need truth. Real truth. Rip you open until you lie in agony wanting the truth that makes you free.
In the five decades that are my life, Hollywood and the music industry, along with politics, banking and media worked together to form a myth about life that was a lie. The lies multiplied and mutated and spread out affecting the globe through the internet. A constant devouring of Hollywood film was the greatest vehicle of this deception until the music industry and music videos added a deeper dose of the drug for a new generation. Every time I find myself in a crowd now I feel the ragged edges of five decades that I lived through and I wonder about the effects of those decades on the crowd around me. I wonder how aware they are of so much that is going on in the world and how we got here. And what the Bible says about these times.
The world is 3D now. The fabric of our lives have been woven with deception, distraction and denial. It rages now with smartphones and immediate access to all information. Collecting all those facts and opinions, even when they are shockingly true and not lies, what difference does it make? We are past the tipping point. To gorge ourselves on information isn't really going to comfort us or help us. To believe so is to believe in another myth that's out there; that we are all connected and we are able to change things for the better. We are not connected, we are disconnected. We are separated and divided and pulling in different directions. There is no hope in us pulling us out as we get our acts together. All the global information at our fingertips is ultimately worthless and we should not believe that it has the power to change our collective outcome. That's just another myth and fabrication. In the sixties they thought music was going to be the answer to all the world's problems. To sing songs about peace and love and get high and drunk and naked was going to stop a war somewhere and eventually stop wars everywhere. What a bunch of stupid, worthless, temporal crap.
Now, somehow, information is going to do it.
All the nonsense and meaningless, lifeless crap that was dished out to us for five decades. All the lies and mythologies, all the distractions went through my mind as I sat watching a dead myth on television. Interesting to me was a gray haired Dustin Hoffman was the lead in this romantic film. Hollywood cast him to close the quotes to all the Hollywood mythology that "The Graduate" tried to get us to investigate in the sixties; it now had an old Dustin as the leading man in a romantic film that doesn't work in Hollywood anymore because romance in film, and also in life, is dead now.
It is dead for all of us.
We are all only facing severe, severe reality.
I love my wife and her constant pursuit of non-romantic truth. I think about her when I watch breathtaking sunsets or falling stars that she can live without and I wonder about the future of our son.
I wonder about those I love as all things on this earth begin to come to a close.
I know I am inadequate, empty, weak and broken. I followed lies for decades.
I pray and I tremble.
PS. Love to you my amazing wife. Happy Anniversary.