Monday, November 5, 2012

Of Saints and Zoos

When I was at the library last week, I picked up the DVD copy of "We Bought a Zoo."  My spouse had wanted to watch it when it came out, and I thought it would be a light comedy.

How wrong I was.

I didn't think about the dead mother.  I didn't realize how large a role she would play.  I somehow missed the fact in the previews that the father buys the zoo when he's still deep in grief.  I wept and wept.

In many ways, however, the movie felt right for All Saints Sunday.  It showed how we deal with death, with all the ways we grieve.  It talked about the importance of stories to remembering our saints.  It showed that even when our families have been ripped asunder, we can create new families.

It's not overtly theological, but it has some interesting possibilities, especially if you've got a youth group that does movie nights.  Maybe youth groups don't do that anymore.  But I love the idea of taking mainstream films and seeing where we can extract some theological/spiritual insight from them.

It's also an interesting film about our responsibility to care for creation.  It's clear that one of the animals needs more space than the zoo has provided.  There's the beauty of the countryside.  There's an old tiger who is sick, which leads an interesting discussion of end-of-life responsibilities.  Again, lots of interesting discussions that can be had here with your family or church group.

Instead of leaving me feeling cleansed, the way tearjerker films often do, I felt a bit anxious and held onto my spouse more tightly.  Like All Saints services and traditions, this film reminds us that everything we love will be lost, and perhaps sooner than we think.  It's a good reminder that we need to cherish people while they're still on this side of the grave and huggable.

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