Falling Plates


So there’s a new video
floating around the internet called “Falling Plates.” It’s about four minutes. Take a look.

And?

There’s something catchy about it, right?

Great imagery, decent music, and so on. But what about the message?

To me, it comes across as perhaps a beginner’s guide to Christianity. Geared perhaps toward kids or teenagers. And maybe that’s its intention. I wonder how useful it is for adults, however. It is operating on a rather simplistic view of the gospel, and certainly a very individualistic gospel:

God made you. Unique, beautiful, and all that jazz. But you messed up. Now your life sucks. And it is going to continue to be miserable unless you ‘plug in’ to the source.

Nice use perhaps of John’s vine imagery, in a more contemporary manner. I can see how this connects – it shows failed attempts at other sources of life: alcohol, relationships, aimless internet surfing. (But seriously, man, slow down! Beer is meant to be enjoyed, not guzzled).

Find the ‘right outlet,’ plug in, and have life. And the right outlet, of course, is Jesus.

Now you’re happy, running at full strength, and ready to go.

In many ways, Jesus is like your morning espresso, only he doesn’t let you down mid-morning.

"One skinny vanilla latte to go.  And bless you, sister."
“One skinny vanilla latte to go. And bless you, sister.”

I suppose that perhaps is much of what doesn’t resonate with me in this video, the simplistic nature of it just doesn’t connect.  (Again, this is how it struck me — I know many folks who love it.)

Many of us seek to follow Jesus, but not just for a ‘power boost.’  We follow Jesus because we are inspired by a life which lays itself down for others, one which makes room for the other, extends hospitality, and is rebuffed at injustice.  Such a life is one that we want to emulate, one we suspect might make a real difference in the world.   I do think there is spiritual power found in a life connected to Jesus, but that doesn’t mean now life is easy, or there are no hurdles, or things are at full strength. It also doesn’t mean that others who have found other sources of life are somehow faking it, or ‘dying but they don’t know it.’

broken_plates
a collection of beautiful brokenness

Don’t get me wrong: Jesus as a magic floating plate really hits home, but perhaps a better picture would be a presence that continues to be incarnate in the world through a bunch of plates that, despite their cracks, pain, and brokenness, offer themselves in service to others, even if they’d rather just magically ‘plug in.’

I suppose this could be a decent introduction to Christianity for some folks, but to me, it feeds in to the desire we have for a magic pill that ‘just makes it all better,’ and makes it all better, for me.

Yes, there is that micro component to the gospel, and it is a crucial one: that God does offer forgiveness/renewal/life/healing, but there is also a macro, or universal element, that God longs for this wholeness to overtake the entire creation.  And maybe this is hinted at in the movie, with the reverse video segments of trees unburning and plates unbreaking…  but is it really just a simple fix: Jesus died, so everything’s OK?  Or is it a complex one that is in process, and that may call us to be broken in the midst of the renewing?

But of course, all of that will take more than 4 minutes.

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7 thoughts on “Falling Plates

  1. you don’t learn to walk at a dead run….. people have to take baby steps. I was raised in “hell fire and damnation” and I didn’t really want any part of it. This is closer to the truth…

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  2. It was created by Campus Crusade as an introduction to the gospel, not as a theology lesson. It’s a virtual “tract” with a simple introduction to the ideas of man’s sinfulness, man’s need of a Savior, and an introduction to that Savior. They have a website that promotes conversation about the video http://www.fallingplates.com/

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  3. Hey Bryan,

    I made the film, and I’m excited you wrote a critique! I agree with a lot of what you’re saying. I really like your thoughts about being broken plates, and still offering ourselves to others, broken.

    I think following Jesus is a revelatory experience, and you don’t start following Him knowing all the correct theology, or even following Him for all the right reasons. I came to Him for selfish reasons, not to help anyone else, or even become a more loving person, and He still let me start following Him.

    7 years on, my faith is deeper, he has worked on my character like crazy, I have a better understanding that it’s for the sake of others — and I know that life isn’t perfect when you follow Jesus. It’s actually harder. Better, but harder. (And easier, too.)

    But.

    It’s a revelation. And there’s a possibility that following Jesus starts from a very selfish place.

    In making the “resurrection” part of the film, I think I was skipping over the epistles (which would be more on your point with being broken and still serving), and fast-forwarding to Revelation. Without context it could totally come off as JESUS MAKES THE WORLD HAPPY ALL THE TIME. But hopefully as people enter into a relationship with God, He reveals to them that the resurrection (plates reconnecting, drops exiting and becoming pure) takes the rest of your life, and is a very pretty painful process.

    It’s living in the tension of already-but-not-yet. And a maybe a little failure of the film is that it doesn’t explain not-yet part at all. Hopefully God reveals that to them!

    Anyway, that was a long response. I agree with a lot of your points — but I guess I felt okay meeting people in a pretty selfish and self-centered place (i.e. my generation, Y, and millenials) and God can work from that broken place.

    Thanks Bryan!

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    1. Hi Jon-
      Thanks for stopping by, and nice work on the film. I think a lot of people will find it moving and powerful. For better or worse, one of my (un)spiritual gifts is being critical, and as my friend Sid noted, perhaps I was a bit unfair. How much can one expect from a 4-min piece?

      I appreciate the way you begin with a strong sense of creation and the goodness of it, which we often skip over to get to the part about sin and so on. And you highlight well that despite this inherent goodness of creation, things aren’t as they should be. I commend you for the hard work you obviously put into it, and, no doubt many will be impacted by it.

      Thanks for your response, and for using your gifts in this way!

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  4. I think you’re being too hard on the video Bryan. I agree that the gospel is complex, but that complexity must for many be understood in a personal way before the larger communal/universal picture can be appreciated. The effectiveness of this video would entirely depend on context. It could be a good conversation starter or it could lead to a bad derailment of what Christianity is all about. But the same thing could be said about what many people do when reading Bible passages…Lord know hermeneutics and interpretation can take things in wildly divergent paths. While I completely agree that many people package Jesus like a caffeine boost, I didn’t see that in this video.

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