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Review: Surrogates

28 September 2009

Elder’s note:  Some spoilers here, but not for the major plotline. 

Surrogates is a sci-fi thriller and mystery, the latest of Bruce Willis’ (his character- FBI agent Greer) action movies.  Basically, you can think it as what might happen if the Sims computer game could be applied to robotics, and if surrogate robots became like automobiles – less luxury and more comodity.  Now, think of what might happen if there was a minority of people who, like the Amish, refused to become dependant on the new technology.  The movie itself is based on ancipated social changes that might result from the new technology. 

We’ve seen such changes before, with the washing machine, the automobile, and the internet.  These are but three technological advances that have forever changed our social landscape.  With all three, we see a trade-off between the strength of relationships, and the thing that makes our lives easier. 

What if you were caught up in the latest change, and didn’t agree that it was, as Greer’s surrogate wife tells him, different because, “it’s better” ?  What if you longed for a simple face to face conversation with your wife?  What if social interaction had become so bad that you actually wanted to have the same face to face conversation with a snooty corporate lawyer?  Or, what if people who were going through deep grief, appeared cold, when they simply turned off their surrogates, when in the darkness of their rooms, they broke down and wept over their circumstances? 

Such is life in Greer’s world.  He rarely leaves the house he inhabits with his wife, and his wife we learn, rarely leaves her room.  In fact, as Greer encourages his surrogate wife to take a vacation to Hawaii with him, we realize that Greer hasn’t actually seen his wife, his real wife, in a long time.  Twice, we see him standing at the door to his wife’s bedroom, only to be intercepted by his wife’s surrogate.  Then we realize, Greer desperately wants to have a simple conversation with his wife, his real wife.  They have not been “man and wife,” for as least as long as they have not had a vacation together, let alone a real conversation. 

Greer eventually has the grace to talk to his surrogate wife about the problem, but she .. shuts down on him.  She apparently has become a broken woman as a result of the new technology, and is not only not better, but not as good.  As Greer watches his wife’s surrogate shut down, we realize that he thinks that she must have become a very cold woman.  The reality we see, is more complicated.  But there is always the shut door that Greer cannot get past. 

Greer the surrogate is an extension of the real Greer, who we think is a hero.  But he is not so much a hero as he is a husband who is desperate to resume the intimate relationship he once had with his life.  Ironically, Greer gives up his surrogate to become a hero;  but the hero that he becomes is but a surrogate for his true self – that of lover par excellance. 

The Bible speaks of another such Lover, Who craves intimacy with His bride, but is robbed of that intimacy, because of sin. 

I slept, but my heart was awake.A sound! My beloved is knocking.”Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my perfect one,
for my head is wet with dew, my locks with the drops of the night.”
I had put off my garment;  how could I put it on?  I had bathed my feet;  how could I soil them?
My beloved put his hand to the latch, and my heart was thrilled within me.
I arose to open to my beloved, and my hands dripped with myrrh,my fingers with liquid myrrh, on the handles of the bolt. I opened to my beloved, but my beloved had turned and gone. My soul failed me when he spoke.  I sought him, but found him not;  I called him, but he gave no answer.    SoS 5:2-6  (ESV)

We see this same imagery in the New Testament, ironically in the context of a discussion of Church discipline. 

Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.  Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.  Rev 3:19-20 (ESV, emphasis mine)

In the end, Greer gets to walk into his wife’s room, see some of the brokeness that lies on his wife’s dresser, and then sees her face to face.  She’s beautiful, but older and grayer, and has some facial lines that .. aren’t quite right.  He holds her, and we know at once that the healing can begin for Greer’s wife and their marriage.  We know that she’ll reject her surrogate as well as what lies on her dresser, and we at least know that if she isn’t strong enough for herself, Greer will be strong for her, as many times as it takes. 

Have you, gentle reader, lived in an awful room, and sent your surrogate self, pristine to the point of revulsion, to talk to your Lord and Savior?  He loves you, but has no use for the pristine self you send to Him.  Nor does He have use for what lies inside the ugly room, on the dresser.  Jesus makes a distinction between the perfect selves that we show to the world, and the selves locked in the room.  But once in the room, He also makes a distinction between the person lying on the bed, and what lies on the dresser.  The door, the surrogate, and what lies on the dresser are ugly to him.  But you.. yeah, you, the stinky soul lying abed..  He thinks you are beautiful. And He is gaga over you (!).

Open the door to Him, if you haven’t.  Yes, that thing you love on the dresser will never be the same to you again, but you will get so much more in return.  And like Greer’s wife, you too will get a trip to Paradise out of it.  Only this time, it’s better because of the Person who lives in the place, not just because of the place. 

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.  No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.  They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.  And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.  Rev 22:1-5 (ESV)

…but do let Him in when it counts, lest he not let you in when it counts.

And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.” “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”  I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me,  but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”  And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.  Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”  “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.  Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.  Rev 22:6-14 (ESV)

To recap:

Jesus wants to be our Lover.  Jesus wants to be our Lover.  Jesus wants to be our Lover.  Jesus wants to be our Lover.  Jesus wants to be our Lover

– Elder  😉

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