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Marleyanity?

January 23, 2008

Megan and I went to see “I am Legend” a few weeks ago and both of us came away thinking that the movie is below average. However, one of the best parts of the movie was the inclusion of Bob Marley. His music is pretty much the soundtrack to the film, and if you look at this clip below you’ll see that it included more than just his music, but also his worldview.

WARNING: if you’re one of those people that doesn’t like to know anything about a movie going into it I don’t want to spoil it for you, so I’ve also posted what Robert Neville (Will Smith) says in the clip here:
ROBERT NEVILLE (talking about Bob Marley and explaining why his daughter is named Marley): He had this idea. It was kind of a virologist idea. He believed that you could cure racism and hate… literally cure it, by injecting music and love into people’s lives. When he was scheduled to perform at a peace rally, a gunman came to his house and shot him down. Two days later he walked out on that stage and sang. When they asked him why – He said, “The people, who were trying to make this world worse… are not taking a day off. How can I? Light up the darkness.”

While the movie wasn’t that great I couldn’t help but want to listen to more of Bob Marley’s music and even know more about him. During this clip I was thinking that it would be interesting to read a biography about him. I have listened to some of his music since the movie, and I believe this is because they were able to make him an attractive historical figure in the film.

However, it got me wondering- what if when Will Smith was asked his daughter’s name he instead responded something like, “Christina, she’s named after Jesus Christ,” and then went on to describe Jesus’ worldview, who He was, some of His famous sayings from the Bible, and what he wanted for the world. Chances are, it would make many moviegoers uncomfortable. And that leaves me asking why someone like Bob Marley can be made attractive in a movie but Jesus can’t. This isn’t a post complaining that it’s not fair that we as a society are naturally drawn to the scene above when if it was the same scene, but instead talking about Jesus, it would be offensive or laughed at by many. My point is to ask why this is? Has society become so calloused that they can’t take an honest look at Jesus without a thousand negative presuppositions. Have we as the church given society good reason to have that callousness?

As usual, the blame probably lies with both parties. We as the church haven’t done a great job of presenting Jesus Christ as someone who is much greater than Bob Marley (is the stuff that Will Smith said in that clip really all that different then what Jesus said?). And the world is rarely willing to look at Jesus with a fresh and humble outlook. Somebody has been in church before, or saw a documentary on the History Channel, or took a religion class in college, or once read part of the Bible, or grew up in “Christian America,” and they aren’t willing to acknowledge that they may not have Him figured out after all. Hopefully we as the church can live in such a way that they want to know more- “Light up the darkness” or better yet, “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life'” (John 8:12).

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