Monday, October 15, 2007

"They're coming, Mr. Roarke!"

Back in the late 70’s a television drama called “Fantasy Island” debuted. The premise was the story of how a group of people looking for that “something” in their lives to fill the void booked floatplane passage to Fantasy Island where, they were told, their “dreams would come true.” The Island was run by Mr. Roarke and his diminutive colleague, Tatoo. Each week when the floatplane ferrying the new batch of hopefuls to the Island came into view, Tatoo began calling to Mr. Roarke: “They’re coming, Mr. Roarke! They’re coming!” Typically, the hopefuls discovered on Fantasy Island that they weren’t really looking for what they thought they were looking for, that the “hunger” that drove them to desperation was deeper than they first believed. Part of the show’s success, no doubt, was that it touched a deep hunger for “something” which most of us spend our lives trying to name and find, like those who booked passage to Fantasy Island.

That’s precisely what Jesus had in mind with his constant talk and action about the Kingdom of God. There is a place deep inside us all, he taught, that is our truest home, the fulfillment of our deepest fantasy, and part of the frustration we feel is that we spend our lives chasing illusions rather than the “real deal.”

I saw this acted out just today in, of all places, a network morning show. Two people were discussing (debating actually) what men and women really want in relationships. One person had made a career (and considerable money) assuming that there really is no deep longing for authentic relationships; rather, simply put, women want money and financial security and men want physical beauty. The other person argued that that was much too cynical; that both men and women wanted something more, something deeper, a deeply satisfying relationship that included friendship, mutual respect, mutually-held values, and commonly-held dreams and aspirations, and that to reduce relationships to merely the physical and financial was “settling” in the worst kind of way. At that point in the debate, the first person turned to the other and said: “You need to get out of fantasy land.”

Indeed. While the second person wasn’t arguing from a Christian perspective, she was, nonetheless, acknowledging what all Christians know to be true: There is a hunger in us all that nothing in this world can ever fully or finally satisfy. To be Christian means that we have caught sight of another world whose values and vision are so utterly alien to the values and vision of this world that we come off sounding like lunatics committed to the utopian dream that there really is a place called “Fantasy Island” where we really belong, where we are at home, and where our deepest longings and desperate dreams and haunting hungers are surfaced and satisfied.

When Christians gather to worship we circle this other world like a floatplane ferrying its haunted hopefuls home. And somewhere, angels announce our arrival: “They’re coming, Mr. Roarke! They’re coming!”

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