Speaking to death


Wendy and I stayed up way too late Friday night watching a movie. It was the 1998 Meet Joe Black featuring a rather youthful looking Brad Pitt and Sir Anthony Hopkins. You may have seen it – and you may have an opinion of it. I’m not here to tell you it’s a good or bad movie. I will say Anthony Hopkins is a gifted actor and I think he was wonderful in this movie.

I won’t give away the whole story but to say the theme revolves around knowing that you are going to die soon and what impact that does to the relationships, priorities and words of the man who will die. In this case it’s Anthony Hopkins who is dealing with death while dealing with a takeover of his board, celebrating his 65th birthday and trying to give his daughters support and encouragement in their relationships. I will tell you Brad Pitt is “death”…and he begins to like life as he gets a taste of it.

Frankly, the movie has horrible theology. You wouldn’t expect Hollywood to worry about theology but considering the topic of life and death and dealing with the power of when you die – it might be good to think this through a theological framework. But that’s not what I was thinking about either.

As the movie rolled along I was thinking about us. I was thinking about Wendy and I, about all the people we love, even the people we just vaguely know. All of us are going to die. That’s a fact. You just can’t escape that. The movie has a cute reference and twist to “death and taxes”. But I don’t want to be distracted.

It doesn’t really explore heaven or hell – though it seems to have more to do with hell than heaven. It doesn’t explore forgiveness – giving or getting. It doesn’t seem to bother acknowledging God, but it seems to imply Satan. Yes, it has a dark side to the movie.

This fact, that we’re all going to die, just needs to be acknowledged and accepted. I remember the day I bought a cemetery plot. It seemed surreal. Here I was giving someone money for a piece of ground that one day we will be buried in. I think these kinds of decisions and actions are surreal but it really is an acknowledgement that one day we will die, and I don’t want the kids to have to do this for us.

But what if the day you were going to die was today, or tomorrow, or this week? What would you want to do? What would you want to say to the people who are important to you? What about you – your soul? Your eternity – what about that? What do you need forgiveness for? Who do you need forgiveness from? Who do you need to forgive? What about heaven and hell? What will you do with God’s offer of love and forgiveness?

So what if this is your week? That is what the movie explores with some licence for creative screen play but it works.

So, maybe this is your day, your week, your month? What are you going to do with that?

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