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Bridge Builders

by Dan Rupple

In the 1989 Disney Classic The Little Mermaid, the mermaid princess Ariel is dissatisfied with her underwater life. Spotting a reflection at the bottom of the ocean, a sunken fork provides Ariel a glimpse into a different world . . . a human world.

As she fantasizes about what it might be like “up there,” she longs to be “part of their world.” But it’s not until her father, King Triton, provides a way—a “bridge”—that she is able to cross over into a life above the sea.

We’ve all seen movies that introduced us to lands we’ve never known or human struggles we’ve never experienced. I’ve seen so many films, especially documentaries at the Sundance Film Festival, that have provided a “bridge” of understanding to a world of which I was previously unaware. These cinematic bridges made a new connection possible for me.

But despite this digital age of unprecedented global connectivity, as a culture we seem to be more divided than ever before. Movies may serve as bridges, allowing us to cinematically travel across the great divide from the known to the unknown. But oh how we need far more kinds of bridges built than movies can ever provide . . . bridges that connect two things that are presently disconnected, bridges that make a way where there wasn’t a way before!

Deep in the heart of God resides a bridge builder. Long before mankind put an insurmountable divide between himself and God, the Lord had conceived His plan to provide a way—a bridge—for mankind to cross back over the divide, reuniting  mankind to his Creator.

God calls us to be bridge builders as well.

Throughout the Scriptures, we see God’s people creating bridges that didn’t previously exist. Jesus with the Samaritan woman at the well creates a bridge between ethnicities and genders (John 4). The Apostle Peter creates a bridge between Jew and Gentile when he enters the home of Cornelius (Acts 10). And the Apostle Paul crosses the divide between Jew and Roman when he appeals to Caesar (Acts 25).

I was asked recently, “If Mastermedia had a symbol, what would it be?” Without hesitation I answered, “A bridge.” Our mission is to bridge the gap between the Christian audience and the media producers who fill our screens, to connect the Christian community with the Hollywood community, and to create a respectful dialog about faith with the secular media professional. These are the divides that God has called us to bridge.

To whom has God asked you to build a bridge?

Reality Check . . . Confusing Real Life with Fiction

In our media-driven culture, the lines between reality and fiction are blurring. According to speaker and writer Phil Cooke, “. . . it’s growing more and more difficult to distinguish real life from our favorite characters in books, movies, and television programs.

“There’s growing evidence that younger viewers in particular have difficulty understanding the difference.”

One study showed that 40% of the students participating believed popular movie versions of historical events were more accurate than factual historical essays on the same subject (Andrew Butler).

And social media only intensifies the impact of the confusion.

Phil shares, “A recent survey discovered 32% of Millennials believe more people were killed under the Bush administration than under Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.”

So what about gaming? Phil cites Nottingham Trent University researchers who discovered that “gamers can become so immersed in fantasy that they become unable to distinguish that from the real world.”

Even C. S. Lewis recognized the importance of real life experience and the risks inherent with overindulging in fantasy. In the context of marriage, he says, Our experience is colored through and through by books and plays and the cinema, and it takes patience and skill to disentangle the things we have really learned from life for ourselves.” —Mere Christianity

Maybe it’s time for a reality check.

How many of our own personal values have been influenced by media’s 24/7 cultural conversations? Are we making decisions and choices based on truth or fiction . . . reality or the “reel” world?

Weigh in at feedback@mastermediaintl.org.

On-Screen Inspiration . . . in “Lord of the Rings”

In the second film of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, “The Two Towers,” after Frodo and Samwise Gamgee had been taken prisoner, sent to the ruined city of Osgiliath, then narrowly escaped being captured by Sauron’s minions, Frodo begins to lose hope. He is ready to give up, thinking he can never finish the quest of destroying the One Ring in Mordor.

Sam encourages his dear friend in this scene from the movie . . .

Frodo: I can’t do this Sam.

Sam: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding onto something.

Frodo: What are we holding onto Sam?

Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo . . . and it’s worth fighting for.

In the book of 1 Samuel, David is on the run, overcome with fear, knowing that King Saul is out to kill him. Jonathan goes to speak words of encouragement to his friend . . . .

“David saw that Saul had come out to seek his life. David was in the wilderness of Ziph at Horesh. And Jonathan, Saul’s son, rose and went to David at Horesh, and encouraged him in God. And he said to him, ‘Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you.’” (1 Sam. 23:15-17)

It’s the true friend who encourages us in the midst of the most difficult part of life’s journey.

Therefore encourage one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:18)

What’s your most inspiring film scene? Why? Let us know at: feedback@mastermediaintl.org.