On the weekend two interesting and amazing things happened for me. The first is that I went to watch The Lego Movie with an old friend (and my three siblings). This was an amazing movie to watch, I personally loved it even more than the equally great Captain America: The Winter Soldier which I saw earlier in the week. But tying into this the second amazing thing is that I heard a wonderful message at church from my pastor which brought so many things into a great an incredible perspective.
I won't entirely spoil The Lego Movie, but if you haven't watched it and consider learning about the premise a spoiler then don't read on from here.
What made it an amazing film was the very fact that it started off like any other fantasy or sci-fi film. It had a promise of being fun and humorous at least, but with a story about another 'chosen one' (or 'special' in this case) seemed old hat. But by the end of the film you start to realise that the film is actually subverting these tropes. The entire theme of the film therefore challenging the idea of social conformity and providing an uplifting look into the concept of 'uniqueness'. You see, where books that I have been reading in recent history, such as Life of Pi, try to talk about everyone being the same in a way that removes or ignores differences, The Lego Movie provided a plot which accepted these differences and then went on to talk about how these differences are what make us the same. We are the same because we are all unique. It's a paradox that is so rarely acknowledged in books or on film in the politically correct world of 'we're not different'.
So, this leads into what happened on Sunday. The message on Sunday happened to revolve around the concept again of being unique. And I don't know about you but when I read something and then hear or read or watch something within a short timeframe with similar themes or content, something clicks for me. So by this point an idea had started to form about the concept of being unique.
You see one thing that has irked me when I hear it is the modern notion that men and women are not that different at all. Looking across history I think you can see that men and women are in fact both similar and different. Yet to come out and claim such things or even to challenge the 'nice' idea of 'everyone is the same deep down' is not viewed as politically correct. And so people tread around such areas. But for me I'd like to say that we are in such cases as between men and women again the same and different. The issue is that again through history the differences between men and women as generally observed have been used to ill-purpose (i.e. the notions that there are strictly 'male jobs' and 'female jobs' and so on). When differences are used to purely separate and create a wedge: that is when you have a problem. But I challenge that you also have an issue when the similarities are used to mingle personalities and groups to the point where uniqueness and difference is not able to be recognised.
I want to bring up a link to an article I read yesterday, discussing a particular issue as brought up by one of my favourite bands: Switchfoot. Switchfoot started out as a 'Christian' band and wrote many 'Christian' songs but have gradually moved away from that label. More judgemental individuals have frowned and even attacked the band for such a move. Yet the lead singer Jon Foreman explains why in the following post:
It is something I have noticed in any circle or group that exists. Christianity and the particular Christian circles I have orbited within or around are perhaps easier for me to discuss in this way. I have as a result noted a problem with modern Christian art, films or literature as a whole to this effect 'it tends to be too Christiany'. Or in other words it seems to need to prove that it is made by Christians by constantly addressing the tenants of the faith. Now this is all well and good until one point: where you end up constructing a box. And it is this box that I have been talking about all along.
You see, putting limitations on your creativity by being predictable is part of how you continue to live within a box. In many ways The Lego Movie was also about that box - that area where constriction of creativity, imagination and life exists. Pushing the idea that 'all religions can be the same' is following that box, because at their core while some may have similar goals they have different methods and means of achieving goals and life shows us that the method or journey is just as important as the goal. Pushing the differences between men and women to the point where you say 'I'm a man I don't need to cook in the kitchen' is not only sexist but it plays along to that box. The point that I am making is that while freedom does exist with its own limitations and while creativity also must have limitations that the true key to existence is equilibrium - balance.
You are uniquely the same as I am. It's a rough paradox of my own wording but it means approximately what I intend to in summing up my thoughts - which have spilled free in a life of their own. To be 'special' or to be 'chosen' is not to be 'the best at everything' - no one is. It's not even to be 'the best in one particular area'. But it is to be the best individual version of you that you can be, and in the hustle and bustle of life we can so easily forget that. Thankfully we have such artistic creations as books, music and film - particularly in this case The Lego Movie. By the way it's a 5/5 from me as a film - fully recommended.