Redemption by repetition

By Bonnie Anderson and Dan Webster

Live. Die. Repeat. Is that the story of Jesus in our church’s liturgical calendar?

98px-Edge_of_Tomorrow_Poster.jpgNo. It’s the marketing slogan on the one-sheet for “Edge of Tomorrow,” another Hollywood shoot ‘em up, blood spattering 3D (and 2D), and wildly loud film that released June 6.

That it opened on the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion was likely no accident. The battle in “Edge” is also an invasion on the beaches of France against slithery, tentacled creatures from outer space that spit fire bombs. The images are reminiscent of those from Normandy in WWII with its overwhelming casualties.

Like Bill Murray in the 1993 comedy “Groundhog Day,” Major Cage (Tom Cruise) finds himself in a time loop repeating the same day (and many of the same lines) again and again in this sci-fi/action flick.

Screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie, intentionally or not, has interspersed a very subtle message of renewal and salvation into the film. Or he’s put on the big screen what happens in a violent video game that keeps taking you to deeper levels.

But unlike the insidious and elusive evil that slithers through today’s real world, the forces of evil in the film, called “mimics,” are right in your face with their slimy but glittering, tentacles (Even mimics wear Bling in Hollywood).

As Cage and the misfit J squad soldiers, dressed up like Robo Cop wannabes, train for the fight against the mimics they are “evangelized” as their Kentucky drill sergeant yells, “All men truly share the same rank. Through readiness and discipline we are masters of our fate. Tomorrow morning you will be baptized. Born again.” This mantra could capture a wide audience of Buddhists, Christians and perhaps even the “spiritual but not religious.”

Redemption and baptism appear only in the context of a military battle and only on this earthly plain. If there is any solution to the threat to humanity it will only come from technology, science or another explosion.

That’s a popular belief in our society. There seems to be no room for God or a spiritual side. Those who have the most weapons, the most trained fighters, regardless of their motive, will come out on top. That’s how the world works. Could that be changing?

In the beloved community we’re told love overcomes death, estrangement and alienation. Maybe there was good news from the box office receipts on opening weekend. “Edge” finished third behind “The Fault in Our Stars,” a story about love being stronger than death. But, by the third week, “Edge” was drawing more than “Fault.” The audience appetite seemed to shift for another Hollywood formula movie that glorifies the military, righteous violence (or “might makes right”) and defines gender equality as women acting like men. It took nine weeks for “Edge” to drop out of the top ten box office draws.

After big bombs, blow-ups, screeching mimics and repeated deaths and wake ups for Cage (and some of the filmgoers), and Rita (Emily Blunt), the Angel of Verdun, a symbol of hope, leads Cage and the rag tag J Squad into battle to deliver the final zap to the Omega mimic and conquer evil once and for all.

It is no mere baptismal font for Cage’s final death and new life scene. He takes the full immersion option and dives deep into the clear water dwelling to destroy the “Omega” mimic and save the world.

Right there the power of death is defeated and the newly baptized is reborn for the last time into a safer, saved world. Ahhhh.

“All things come of Thee,” even in Hollywood.

Bonnie Anderson is a lay leader (senior warden) at All Saints Episcopal Church, Ponitiac, MI and past president of the Episcopal Church General Convention’s House of Deputies. Dan Webster is a priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland and a former broadcast news executive.

“Edge of Tomorrow Poster” by May be found at the following website: IMP Awards. Licensed under Fair use of copyrighted material in the context of Edge of Tomorrow (film) via Wikipedia

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