Friday, July 13, 2012

The Muppets, Moonrise Kingdom, and Being Happy

on pop theology, philosophy, theology, culture, pop culture, christianityby Ben Howard

It’s difficult for me to be authentically happy.  Well, let me rephrase that, it’s hard for me to communicate authentic happiness.  I can convey sadness, angst, fear, pain, anger, but when I try and talk about happiness it feels like I’ve left something out.  It’s like everything I say comes out like it’s part of a happiness MadLib and I’m just feeling in the blanks. 

I am happy about (noun),  I really like (same noun) ever since (date) when I first (verb) it with (name).  I’m so excited (number of exclamation points). 

I experience these little moments of transcendent happiness all the time, but it’s become frustrating that I can’t share them on the same level.  I can’t communicate the beauty of a certain delicate guitar chord combined with the sun coming through this particular window on that one random day in February, but that moment was so beautiful, so full of joy, that I deeply, deeply wish I could.

All the words feel cliché.  Maybe this is because our culture uses the happy words too much, without making sure that they carry the appropriate weight.  Maybe it’s just because beauty, real beauty overwhelms us.  Maybe real happiness can only be captured by the experience of the event.

Two movies that I’ve seen in the last year made me feel this way.  Just happy.  Simple, delicate, profound.  The first one is The Muppets with Jason Segel that came out last Thanksgiving.  It’s not a perfect movie.  It’s kind of ridiculous and the plot is mildly absurd, but it’s filled with so much heart and love and passion, that I can’t help but smile whenever someone mentions it, let alone when I’m actually watching the movie itself.  I want everyone to feel the way I feel when that movie is showing.  Peaceful, with a big goofy grin on my face.

The second is Wes Anderson’s new film Moonrise Kingdom which I just saw last weekend.  Like all Wes Anderson movies, it’s quirky in every way, tone, characters, look, everything.  At it’s heart, the movie is a love story between two off-beat, misunderstood 12 year old’s who run away together.  That love story was so precious, so simple; the kind of thing that makes you nostalgic for things you never experienced and that never actually existed.

There’s a lot of pain in our world.  Often I think that the darker and more painful the event, the more real and authentic it is, but this can’t possibly be true.  It may be easier to access the darkness, it may be more pervasive in our day to day, but the joy is just as real as the pain.  It does not eliminate pain, but it has, it does, it will transcend it.  Even if I can't explain why.


You can contact me on Twitter @BenHoward87, leave a comment or email me.  Have a nice day!

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