Any Questions?

Every now and then a film comes along that surprises you. Not in the sense that it's full of thrills and spills, but in the sense that it strikes you at a deeper level than most films. I saw a movie like that recently. It's City Slickers, now out on video. "City Slickers?" you ask. That movie about three buddies who go to New Mexico and drive cattle just like Wild West cowboys? Yes, surprisingly enough, that movie. Billy Crystal stars as a radio ad salesman named Mitch. Mitch feels trapped. His job is boring, his children are distant, his marriage is dull. It really hits him on Career Day at his son's school. Mitch is invited in to explain what he does in his career. But he finds himself grasping for words. "I sell radio time," he says. "I sell air time. I sell air." Selling air becomes a metaphor for the emptiness pervading Mitch's life. Just listen to this rambling monologue, where Mitch sums up for the class what life is all about. "Value this time in your life, kids," he says, "it goes by so fast. When you're a teenager, you think you can do anything--and you do. Your twenties are a blur. Thirties, you raise your family, you make a little money. And you think to yourself, "What happened to my twenties?" Forties, you grow a little pot belly, you grow another chin. The music starts to get too loud. One of your old girlfriends from high school becomes a grandmother. Fifties, you have a minor surgery. Oh, you'll call it a procedure, but it's a surgery. Sixties, you'll have a major surgery. The music is still too loud, but it doesn't matter, because you can't hear it anyway. Seventies, you and the wife retire to Ft. Lauderdale, start eating dinner at 2 o'clock in the afternoon.... You spend most of your time wandering around malls, looking for the ultimate soft yogurt and muttering: "How come the kids don't call?" The eighties, you'll have a major stroke. You'll end up babbling to some Jamaican nurse your wife can't stand but who you call Mama." When Mitch finishes his monologue, the classroom is dead silent. "Any questions?" he asks. No questions. What's so remarkable about the speech is its blunt honesty. Is this all there is to life?, it makes you wonder. What's life all about anyway? What purpose does it have? Just think for a moment. How many times has a movie or television show made anyone even think about questions like that? Now, City Slickers has some coarse language that some would be offended by. But at least it raises some serious questions. So I have an idea. Why don't you ask your friends if they saw the movie. Ask them about Mitch's speech. It just might lead into a discussion of what they think is worth living for. The movie itself gives a hopelessly subjective answer. It says the meaning of life is to find the "one thing" that gives you personally a sense of meaning--whatever it may be. But you can use that as a springboard to tell people there's an objective answer to why we're here. And that the "one thing" we really need is God Himself.


Chuck Colson


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