Do you and your family find yourselves watching more movies and television these days?
If so, please don’t forget to check out Focus on the Family’s new streaming service, Focus@Home.We’re adding new content every day, including some wonderful special material for Easter from our friend Ray Vander Laan, perhaps best known for his teaching in our rich and meaningful series, That the World May Know.
We’ve also added The Truth Project, our award-winning Christian worldview series from Dr. Del Tackett, and the wildly entertaining and informative project, Drive Thru History.
I realize some parents are a little uncomfortable with too much “screen time” – and understandably so. But not all video content is created equal, of course.
Seinfeld creator Larry David released a tongue-in-cheek public service announcement last week imploring people to stay home and watch television.
The comedian took aim at those refusing to obey governor’s orders.
“The problem is, you’re passing up a fantastic opportunity — a once in a lifetime opportunity — to stay in the house, sit on the couch and watch TV,” Mr. David said. “I don’t know how you’re passing that up. Well, maybe because you’re not that bright. But here it is. Go home. Watch TV. That’s my advice to you.”
I suspect yours and my choice of movies and television may differ somewhat from Larry David, but a good film or inspirational series can lift your spirits – especially during these difficult days of the coronavirus global pandemic.
There’s a reason Jesus taught in parables. As a people, we’re drawn to stories. In fact, it was J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of Lord of the Rings trilogy, who once offered some keen insight on why we love a good book or movie.
In 1939, the famed writer prepared an essay to be delivered as a lecture at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. It was titled “On Fairy-Stories,” and in the piece he explained and defended the use of fantasy as a literary form.
The entire work is worth reading, but one part in particular speaks to our current state of affairs—and in a most hopeful way.
According to Tolkien, we’re naturally drawn to stories, of course, but we’re especially drawn to drama and tales with a sudden, happy ending. In the reflection, though, Tolkien coined an interesting term, especially now in the midst of Holy Week:
eucatastrophe—the joyful (eu) catastrophe.
I find his insights fascinating and share in his own words the deeply theological motivation behind “eucatastrophe”:
I coined the word “eucatastrophe”: the sudden happy turn in a story which pierces you with a joy that brings tears (which I argued it is the highest function of fairy-stories to produce). And I was there led to the view that it produces its peculiar effect because it is a sudden glimpse of Truth, your whole nature chained in material cause and effect, the chain of death, feels a sudden relief as if a major limb out of joint had suddenly snapped back.
The Resurrection was the greatest “eucatastrophe” possible in the greatest Fairy Story—and produces that essential emotion: Christian joy which produces tears because it is qualitatively so like sorrow, because it comes from those places where Joy and Sorrow are at one, reconciled, as selfishness and altruism are lost in Love.
In his inimitable way, Tolkien assures us that in the end, despite every appearance to the contrary, even in the age of the coronavirus global pandemic, all is well. Why else would we call even the worst day in all of time and space, the day Jesus of Nazareth died, “Good Friday”?
Because in the end, the God of the universe has promised to make all things new.
I am praying morning, noon and night for an end to the pandemic. I know you are, too. In the meantime, as you find yourselves with some extra time at home, please consider checking out our new streaming service, Focus@Home. Just click here to access it. And let me know what you think!