It has been an extremely hectic last couple of weeks. Hannah was offered a job by Metro Nashville Public Schools (yah!), so we headed up last Thursday and Friday to find a place to live — ended up with a cozy (or cramped, possibly) duplex that will allow me to walk to school. I’m looking into part-time job opportunities at the moment: tutoring/teaching homeschoolers/bookstore, something…
As ambivalent as I was about my job in Newnan, now that our moving day is bearing down upon us, I have mixed feelings about leaving. I certainly (at this point) will not miss teaching middle school. But I came to greatly appreciate many things about this place — both creature comforts (such as our loft — the equivalent of which is well outside our price range in Nashville, by the way) and relationships. Although we’ve only been here a year, we’ve thrown ourselves in the congregation where we worship (as a cursory examination of this blog will, I think, attest) and it has been enormously rewarding. I have learned a great many things from these people about worship, about community, and about the nature of the kingdom of God. As we have reached out to neighboring congregations we have been blessed by those contacts. This summer, as we have marched out into the community, others have come into our lives and into the lives of our congregation. It has been for us a time of learning to welcome the unfamiliar and the uncomfortable, to be hospitable.
We’re at the in-laws for the Fourth. I’ve escaped this afternoon to a coffee shop. But I spent the morning in front of the TV. That’s not something I normally do — we don’t own a television. But, inevitably, when we come to the in-laws’ place, there’s the TV. So the Sci-Fi Channel is running a “Fourth of July Twilight Zone Marathon.” I watched my first episode over my morning coffee and was hooked into the early afternoon. I’ve never watched the Twilight Zone before (too scared as a child to watch the reruns that were shown), but I was greatly impressed by what I saw. Making allowances for cheesy special effects and certain time-bound assumptions of 1950s America, what I saw was an incredible vehicle for social criticism and for a discussion of human nature. A couple of my favorites were “The Lateness of the Hour” and “The Gift.”
“Lateness” tells the story of a young girl and her parents who live in a house managed by servants who are robots created by the girl’s father. The robots are replicas of human beings, even endowed with “memory tracks” that give them fully functioning memories of childhoods that they never actually had. The parents are content to live in this house and never venture out. The girl becomes increasingly uncomfortable with this arrangement as she begins to realize that the servants never age, etc. Eventually she convinces her dad to “kill off” the servants. She is very happy about this — she talks of venturing out into the real world, of taking trips, of giving her parents grandchildren. It is only then that the audience learns the truth about the family. The girl notices that, in the family albums that she is constantly poring through, there are no pictures of her as a young child. Her parents are eventually cajoled into revealing to her the truth about herself — she is one of her father’s robotic creations.
In “The Gift,” a stranger wanders into a Mexican town after being accidentally involved in the killing of a local police officer. He befriends a local boy and says that he has a gift to give him. The townspeople are wary of him, though, and a local bartender tips off the police to his presence. As he is surrounded by an angry mob and several policemen, he states that he comes to them in peace and that he has a gift for them. He tells the little boy to open the gift. It contains a message and a small vial which the townspeople are upset by and immediately burn without even reading. The man is shot to death before the truth is learned: he is a visitor from millions of miles away in outer space; what he brings is a message of peace and the destroyed vial contained a vaccine that would have cured all forms of human cancer.
I never expected to be confronted by a retelling of the Gospel in an episode of the Twilight Zone. Go, watch and learn…
UPDATE: someone else has already noticed this. Looks kind of interesting — too bad I’m only familiar with a couple of the series that the authors discuss.