Faith, MacGuffins, Mystery and God
I love the TED Talk by JJ Abrams. The one where he's talking about how mystery is so central to his approach to filmmaking and life. He has this box he uses as an example. It's a pretty unassuming box, still taped shut, with a giant question mark on it. He says he purchased it at a magic store as a kid and he's never opened it. He has no idea what's inside, and he loves the romance of the unknown; the mystery. The moment he opens the box and sees what's inside, the mystery is ruined.
Think about the Rabbit's Foot in Mission Impossible III, or The Island in LOST. Amazing mysteries that are central to the progression of the story, but we never know them. They are questions that are never answered. They are the macguffins of the story.
Since the most recent time I watched that talk, I've been connect the idea of the "mystery box" to my faith. My faith is asking me to live and work for what God wants, without ever entirely knowing what that is. I am to trust that God has the answers to my many questions about my faith, and I simply don't get to know on this side of eternity.
I was stuck on the idea that faith is the mystery box.
Then I read an essay in Creative Matters by Cole Nesmith.
We've worked hard to eliminate as much of the unknown as possible, and we wonder why we feel distant from a God who exists in the mysterious.
Suddenly, my perspective on the mystery box has changed. My faith isn't the central mystery to my life. God is.
I'm not sure how I missed that. God is the center of the Story. Of course, but he's also that giant mystery in the middle. The ambiguous, unknown object that drives the players.
God tells us just enough about Himself so the Story can move forward. So we have something for which to strive, but no easy answers. It's unclear, and open to interpretation.
As I wrote this, I found a quote I wrote down from David McFadzean at STORY10...
Mystery is the confidence to know that all the answers are out there, but the patience to live in the question.
I trust that the answers are out there. That God holds them tightly to His chest; because if He didn't the Story would be boring and predictable. His Mystery is beautiful and exciting and I must make peace with it. Maybe I'll never have peace with it. Maybe it's human nature to lust for answers, but I won't allow my faith to be defined by facts and logic. It's bigger than anything we can know.
I have this phrase, embrace the mystery, stuck in my head. I know that's not right though. Mystery isn't something we embrace. It's something we live in and God leads us through it, step by step.