This last weekend I watched The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug and I learned something about life, maybe you can relate. I was there opening night and did something I have only done one other time. I walked out. Five minutes into the much anticipated midnight showing, I got out of my seat and walked out of the theater.
Was it bad? No, no it wasn’t, well… kinda. I was watching the 48fps version and, to be honest, it was awful. I was going to slip into the 24fps theater but by the time I’d gotten in the hallway I was done. I’d been up since 4:30am because that morning, myself and 18 other youth leaders, went around caroling some of our students… in their bedrooms… while they slept. It was awesome.
I went back the next day for the 4pm showing, well rested, with my brother and my nephew in tow. We watched it and it was gloriously good fun! I loved it! Parts one and two are entertaining stories and I can’t wait for the final part. But I keep running into people who hate it! Invariably they have read the book and are disappointed that things were so different. They want the same action, the same hooks, the same narrative. Sorry to burst your bubble, story dweebs, but you kinda suck.
The problem is expectations. We walk into a movie theater to view our favorite book expecting the narrative and perspective that we saw in our heads to be projected on the big screen in full 3D IMAX with Dolby Atmos surround sound. Then we get all huffity about how Peter Jackson ruined Gloin’s beard or Orlandolas Bloomleaf wasn’t supposed to be in this one. Did Legolas put on weight? Whatever! Our expectations ruined the whole thing before a single frame hit the 4K digital projector.
A movie version of a book can never be told with the same narrative and perspective of a movie. If it did, Katniss’ movie would be 90% voiceover of her internal monologue and shot from her eyeball perspective. Which would give us a pretty good shot of Josh Hutcherson’s bald spot throughout the movie… short joke… sorry.
But I said that I learned something about life, and here it is. There are two major disappointments, book to movie adaptations and Book to life applications. Why isn’t my life like these people in the Bible who did, like a ton of super cool things? This one guy walked on water for, like, a minute. This other guy saw a blanket full of tasty pigs floating in the sky. Well where are my holy water skis? Where are my magic pigs in a blanket?
These expectations of glory and magic, this searching for the perfect narrative from the Book is killing us. Somewhere we must have rejected the story we’re living because, sure it had the same plot points and some of the main characters, but it was being told different. Something went wrong so we stopped listening, we stopped watching and we stopped reading. We are no longer entertained by the story we’ve been called to and we want out.
The time has come to die. It’s time to die to our expectations of book to movie adaptations or else the movie theater will become our own personal dungeon of despair. It’s time to die to our expectations of Book to life application or else this filthy, beautiful thing we call life will be your own shallow dying hole.
I dropped my expectations at the arcade with a roll of quarters and told it I was gonna go grab some smokes. I bet it’s still there, glancing at the door between quarters on Galaga, expecting me to come back. Well, expect away! From here on out I want to look at my life without the expectations of some narrative, I want to search for the plot points of grace, peace, beauty, hope and, above all, love.
God loves me, He loves you too, and He even loves those poor, disappointed story dweebs.