Steve Stone

Mystery Box

Today at the office, Jonny Mac showed me this interview with J.J. Abrams (the creator of LOST) on TED.com. It is incredible!

The talk is called “Mystery Box”. Apparently, decades ago he bought a box of magic tricks at an old magic shop. It was crowned as $50 worth of magic for $15. Awesome, right? To this day, he still has not opened it. He hasn’t opened it because it represents the idea of hope, imagination, mystery, infinite possibility, etc. And he realizes that we, humans and our nature, are drawn to this!

In film school we learned that it’s not about what you show, but what you don’t show. Alfred Hitchcock was a genius at this. Take Hitchcock’s (in)famous shower scene from Psycho. If you watch it shot-for-shot, you never see the lady get stabbed! You see the knife coming into frame, you see her horrified face, you see chocolate-syrup-blood running down the drain, but you never see knife cutting flesh. Hitchcock would often get criticized for all the murdering he did on screen. But he would comment back that it was not he that committed the murder, but the audience member! He suggested and we committed the murder!

It is our modern nature to want to figure everything out, to tie a pretty bow on it and move to the next problem. But that’s just it; we want to move on to the next problem! We need the problem! We live for the problem. If there were no problems, we would have to fabricate our own. If you break it down, that what most of media today is: non-fiction and fiction books, TV shows, movies, it’s all about posing problems and the fixing them. The only reason why shows like LOST are so popular right now is because they stretch themselves out over a period longer than an hour. And we LOVE it, probably because we hate it so much!

The church, however, is more like a school. It attempts to answer all the questions as soon as they come up, before an real thought goes into what’s going on. During a sermon a person can find out they’re a sinner, discover the cure through Jesus’ saving grace, make their commitment, and be done with the whole thing in half-an-hour! My point is this: Maybe too often preachers, teachers, and theologians are trying answering to many questions. There is no mystery in God! We’ve got Him all figured out and we packaged Him into this nice little box and if you open it, all will be revealed to you and you will understand! But, maybe that is not the point, to understand everything. Or, maybe it is not the point to try and explain everything away.

©2020 steve stone