Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Big Lebowski

I finally saw this movie. I have heard it referred to countless times on religion blogs. Makes you wonder. It is about a guy who just exists. He bowls. He uses the F word a lot. He is unemployed and not the least bit uncomfortable with that. Not working towards any goal. Not building anything. Not studying anything. Not looking for a marriage partner. Just being. In modern society we have a lot of men like that. They lack ambition. They lack drive.

This Lebowski dude is very frustrating in his lack of desire. He finds himself in a crisis situation. He does not really rise to the occasion. He shows a little concern but only in relation to his friend who is completely apathetic. He lets his friend do stupid things for selfish reasons and complains but never insists on a better course of action. All he has to do to be moral is to reject some truly bad ideas and he even fails at that. You wonder about a culture that has heroes like this. Someone who can confront all sorts of sexual deviancy and not show any trace of moral outrage. Someone who reacts to life and death situations by smoking more drugs. Someone who lets other people control him even when they are obviously morons.

You wonder how to evangelize a culture like that. It seems like the natural human desire to pursue what is true and beautiful and good has been dulled by sex and drugs and rock'n roll. I am reminded by a quote about our deepest fear:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
This is the fear that Lebowski seems to have conquered. He is totally OK being not very bright, not very talented and not very good looking. That is OK if there is some other way you are called to greatness. You need to be comfortable with the gifts you don't have. But Lebowski does not have some other greatness like the St Therese of Lisieux or even the Blessed Virgin Mary. He has nothing. He bowls a lot. He has many stupid conversations with his friends. He smokes drugs. There is no hidden greatness anywhere. We used to call people heroes because they did something great. Now we call people heroes for avoiding any impulse towards greatness.

The truth is we were made for something better. We know it. We are supposed to change the world. God created us to do that. If He created us for something then we are going to have the talent to do it. We are going to have the heart to do it and enjoy it. Ultimately, if we ask God's help, we are going to be successful. We don't have to marvel at how someone can let a bunch of immoral fools run his life and still end up happy. We can let God empower us to be true heroes and profoundly satisfied with life.

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