Sunday, September 21, 2014

How Does "Bruce Almighty" Relate To Spirituality...and Me?

"Bruce Almighty" is both a hilarious and touching movie.  It contains probably the most respectful portrayal of God there is in a secular movie (#MorganFreeman'sAwesomeness).  God is shown as a benevolent Creator, who cares for his creation and also has a sense of humor.  And the lesson Bruce (played hilariously by Jim Carrey) learns through Him is a lesson we could all take to heart.

For those of you who haven't seen the movie, here's the basic plot:  Bruce is a news anchor who's unhappy with his life.  He's unhappy with his home, his dog refuses to be housebroken, he loses a promotion to a backstabbing co-worker, and he finally loses his job after having an on-air meltdown.  He blames God for his troubles, and rails continuously against the Almighty.  God hears Bruce and gives him a challenge.  If Bruce thinks he can do better, God will give him his powers.  There are only two conditions:  He can't tell anyone, and he can't interfere with free will.

We get a number of great spiritual nuggets as we go along, and, unlike the other two movies I've done this with, the spirituality is explicit, not hidden.

It's no surprise that Bruce uses his powers for himself.  He parts traffic, gets revenge on a gang that mugged him earlier, parts his soup in half a la Moses,get his job and promotion, makes his enemies look stupid, and makes his girlfriend...ahem...more appealing.

But all is not well.  Bruce is hearing voices that he learns are prayers.  He decides to save time by just saying "Yes" to everyone, which leads to disaster for all involved.  Here we learn why some of our prayers don't get quite the answer we want.  We truly don't know what's best for us.  Only God really knows that.

Bruce's selfishness causes his girlfriend to leave him.  Here, we get one of the movies most poignant moments.  Bruce asks God, "How do you make someone love you, without affecting free will?"  God just answers, "Welcome to my world, son.  You figure that one out, you let me know."  Wow.

Bruce does learn to start using his powers for good.  He even gives his promotion back to his arrogant co-worker because he knows he's really the best man for the job.

But, there is still disaster.  And Bruce's separation from his girlfriend becomes even harder when he hears her praying for God to allow her to stop loving him, so she can let him go.  Bruce can no longer stand it.  He kneels down in the street, and cries out to God, "I want You to decide what's best for me.  I surrender to your will!"

Bruce gets hit by a truck and finds himself with God.  He tells God what he wants for his girlfriend.  He wants her to find someone who will make her happy and see her the way he saw her then.  God knows Bruce has learned his lesson and sends him back to Earth where he does his best to be a better man.

Again, while this is all good, there are some potential content concerns that should be mentioned.  The movie does contain some foul language, inappropriate humor, and the fact that Bruce living with his girlfriend is never brought up in the Heavenly chit-chat.  Also, while God is clearly shown, Christianity isn't necessarily.  God also mentions how He's talked with Gandhi before, so the Gospel isn't really communicated, other than that we need God in our lives.  Then again,let's be honest. Expecting an explicit Gospel message in a Jim Carrey film is unrealistic.  We're lucky we got what we got.

I'd also like to address how it relates to me.  I, too, have been in the same place Bruce was.  I have been in a spot where I would become angry with God and say similar things to what he said.  ("Oh, God, why do You hate me?"  "The only one not doing His job is You!"  "You suck!")

And this is why the scene near the end of Bruce kneeling in the street is so beautiful to me.  That scene of complete surrender serves as a great reminder that, no matter what, God is the answer, and He is always ready to help us when we call on Him, no matter what we may have done.  That realization alone is what makes this movie worth watching, even more than once.

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