Saturday, January 20, 2007

A "Rent"ed Life

I recently watched the movie based on the musical Rent. The basic premise of the movie and musical is a year in the lives of young adults living in the poverty stricken Alphabet City in New York City. Struggles and choices common to that area are reflected in the characters including living with HIV and AIDS, homelessness, homosexuality, drug use and abuse, promiscuity, interpersonal struggles and many others.

There were parts of the movie that were offensive to me but I knew they would be there. In a society where we are inundated with immorality, it can be easy to become callous to what should be offensive. Sometimes it is a relief to know that I can still be offended. That is beside the point though.

The movie's soundtrack and talent is wonderful. For that, it was a good movie and what I had been told by others that made me want to see the movie. I can appreciate creativity done well, even if it is not my style. As a person who is interested in the emotions of people, it was interesting and thought provoking to view the experiences of people who know they will soon die a painful and early death because of a virus they have contracted (regardless of the reasons it was contracted, that is a heart breaking existence).

Additionally I am glad I saw the movie because I like viewing things that make me think afterwards. My husband nicely tolerates my "what are your thoughts about this and that" questions afterwards. This was a movie that opened up many questions and thoughts for which I will, after this long introduction, write my thoughts on.

One of the more popular songs from the movie has the lines "There's only us, There's only this, Forget regret, Or life is yours to miss, No other road, No other way, No day but today... There is no future, There is no past, Thank God this moment's not the last..." This line is the basic attitude of the movie. Most of these people will die in the next few years and their current existence does not have much to offer. Therefore, all they have is right now and they will make the best of what they have because they have "love".

My husband and I talked about this afterwards and what we thought the message was that the writer of the story was trying to show. At face value, it appears to be what I just wrote, that you have to live for the moment. What was the attitude though about this reality for these people? I did not think, as liberal as the writing was, that the writer was trying to say that it was positive, or even was okay, that this was their existence, it just...was. Rather, it was quite tragic (and I don't think the writer tried to dispel this) that they just had to deal with their current state because they thought had no other way out.

How many people live like this in our world? As we continued to discuss our thoughts on the movie, we agreed that the writer did not give a solution to how the characters lives could be any different. This was probably because he himself did not know the solution. Notice the emphasis on "the".

What a tragedy to see young people who cannot look to their lives with any meaning besides what is happening now. It is because they really have no hope in the (or for a) future. I do not pretend to know what it is to live in poverty or with a deadly disease. I do know though that regardless of my situations, I can rest in knowing that I can at least hope for my future and never have to settle for "what is". Paul writes in Philippians 1:21 that "to live is Christ and to die is gain". This is a man who had suffered in this world through severe beatings, imprisonment, persecution...and even when that was not going on he lived as a man on the run without a home or comfortable existence. Yet, this man knew how to live in life and not just deal with the circumstances. In his hard life, he celebrated because he was suffering for Christ. He could also look forward to the future because that held a life of eternal joy in heaven.

That is how a young person living in poverty, diseased and alone can live a life that is more than for today. That is the solution. A knowledge that this existence, regardless of current circumstances, is one that is for Christ and that there is a wonderful hope for the future is how a person does it.

The movie is both good and bad. I will not recommend someone to see it because it is full of immorality and I cannot put my stamp of approval on it for those reasons. Personally though, I think the lessons learned within it made it a movie that I benefited from watching. I have a visual reminder of how blessed I am that I get to live today for eternity. My life is not one that is temporary, or rented. Rather my life is securely owned by God for permanent residence with Him.

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