Cowboys, Aliens, Pelagians
Cowboys & Aliens is a decent summer movie, but it loses half a letter grade for bad theology. Director Jon Favreau has a great cast and a serviceable script; the cinematography is lovely and the soundtrack is pretty good. Native Americans are predictably typecast (menacing at first, then loud and chaotic, then generally noble and taciturn; after the dramatic climax, we don’t see them again). The special effects are pretty good; Favreau and his producers know what it takes to create a summer blockbuster-type film. I loved his Iron Man, but that set the bar for me. With its great cast and bold concept, C&A did not quite live up to its potential.
And that theology: at one point in the film, the town’s clergyman says something like, “First, you have to earn God’s presence; then you have to notice it; then you have to act on it.” I agree with the second and third step, but recoil in disagreement and dismay at that first idea. IMHO, the Spirit of Life is present in every being. We may ignore, deny, or even actively work against it, but there is sacred potential everywhere. We don’t have to “earn” it; it renews in us with every pulse of our heart.
So: I give Cowboys & Aliens a “B-” because its popcorn thrills ultimately fall short of its promise, and I subtract another half-letter-grade for bad theology. C+. It’s worth seeing on the big screen, but do have a conversation afterwards: we do not have to *earn* God’s presence.
(apologies to Pelagius–while he did say that we humans *could* work toward goodness by ourselves, even he did not say that we had to)
Full post, with links, at So May We Be.