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Is it a ‘Star Wars’ ticket line or could it be a snipe hunt?

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–Let me get this straight: You’re sitting in a line of lawn chairs outside a movie theater, shivering in the cool breeze, waiting hours to buy a ticket for a movie which won’t open for another week, and on the very day it opens this theater alone will show the movie 31 times on five screens.
Am I missing something?
This ticket line stands across the parking lot from a chain bookstore sagging with displays of stuff from “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace” — the novel and its kiddy version; the scrapbook, encyclopedia and audio book; the guide to weapons technology; the paper dolls, posters, toys, stickers and diaries. And then there are the dozen or so magazine covers. You can gag on the hype.
This could well be a snipe hunt.
I’m reminded of my first snipe hunt at Scout camp. Our mentors equipped us with burlap bags and positioned us deep in the woods. Their avowed aim was to circle and chase the snipe our way so we could capture them. After some time alone in the woods, it occurred to us that something was wrong. Our vigil was for nothing except the amusement of our counselors.
When I see these folks in line, straining to make that first midnight showing, I see those burlap bags at the ready. They’re hoping that Hollywood will chase some more meaning in life their way.
The advance reviews aren’t particularly encouraging. Some call it “The Phantom Movie” and “a disappointment.” But if anyone might be able to will themselves into a great experience, these people-of-the-queue seem to be the folks.
They might catch something. After all, snipes do exist.
A friend brought me a Missouri hunting schedule a few months back, just to show there is a snipe season in our state. And who knows? One might run into your sack. Or maybe you’ll catch a ground squirrel or a rabbit. There are good things out there to be caught.
So, too, with the movies. Some Christians dismiss them altogether. Just this week, World magazine featured a letter from Michigander who canceled his or her (the name is Pat) subscription because of the presence of film reviews. Not the content of those reviews, but their very presence — “As a believer I am not interested in what an immoral entertainment group is doing.”
Following Pat’s lead, I’m now declaring that I shall forsake books. After all, most books are sub-Christian, pseudo-Christian or anti-Christian, most publishers are manifestly lost, and a book can wreck your spiritual life. I’m also canceling my subscription to World because they review secular books.
Just kidding. Christians have the power of discrimination and the opportunity for cultural engagement. And lost people can do some pretty impressive and even gratifying work. I’m glad I saw the earlier Star Wars movies. I’m glad that “Darth Vader,” “Jabba the Hutt” and “warp speed” are in my set of analogues. I’m glad I got to see cutting-edge technology serving a crackerjack story line. I’m glad I got to see a work with high production values in the midst of a world with generally low production values.
I’m sorry they had to mix in “religious” moonshine about the “Force,” midi-chlorians, levitating space ships and such. But you can’t expect non-Christians to get such matters right.
Standing alone in the woods can be nice, by the way.
Even if the snipe don’t materialize, there are charms to nighttime solitude in the woods. Even if the movie doesn’t deliver, there are things to be said for meeting strangers and fellow enthusiasts in a ticket line, recalling favorite characters and scenes, testing one another with trivia questions and sharing a midnight adventure replete with show popcorn, cheers and laughter. I’ll don’t want to totally gainsay the snipe hunt.
The Jedi Masters may not be recruiting in the ticket line.
Should the Jedi Masters come looking for prospects, chances are they wouldn’t start at the ticket line. After all, their code calls for theirs to be a band of effectually committed servants and guardians, “doing anything possible to stop the forces of darkness.” They might even pass by the ticket line and mutter, “Get a life.”
Assuming that many of the viewers will catch fewer snipe than they anticipated, we Christians might find occasion to add, “Get the life, the abundant life.” After all, snipe hunts generate teachable moments. I know mine was.
(Coppenger is president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, Mo.)

    About the Author

  • Mark Coppenger