Sunday, April 20, 2014

HIMYM, Easter & Happily Every After

If you are one of the few people left on planet earth who have not watched your DVR saved final episode of How I Met Your Mother (HIMYM), and don't want to have it spoiled, stop reading.  My wife gave up on the show after season three.  I stuck with it for one reason, that Carter and Bays' story telling was intriguing.  Starting with the end (the story to the kids) and getting to the beginning (the mother) was different, as well as their extensive use of flashbacks and flashfowards.  I have an appreciation for shows that have dared to tell their story differently (such as Moonlighting, Arrested Development, Scrubs, and Community).

Yet, HIMYM broke many people's hearts (I would be shocked if the writers were surprised).  The mother had been dead the whole time the story was being told.  I guess it was told to have the kids OK their father's pursuit of his best friend's ex-wife, who was also his former girlfriend (isn't that against the "Bro Code" somewhere?).  As some people sarcastically wrote, the show title should have been How I Settled For Your Mother.  For nine years viewers invested and hoped that the lovable loser ,"Charlie Brown-ish", Ted would finally get the girl of his dreams, and that dream was shattered in the course of about 2 minutes in the final episode.

My paraphrase of the writer's response to the reaction is, "Bad things happen in life and we always reflected that."  That is true.  But entertainment is to make people forget about the troubles of real life.  Yes, in real life, people get sick, people get divorced, they lose their jobs, they have their heart brokers, and we all will die.  And during the course of a TV shows run, we are okay and even now expect to see the characters we identify with struggle with these issues.  But in the end, entertainment is supposed to for us to escape what we don't see in this life.  We have been conditioned that the stories we are told end with a modification of the phrase, "And they lived happily ever after".

One of the best TV finales of the past few years was Scrubs. After the main character, JD, walks down the hallway to the hospital door (that was lined up with characters from previous episodes wishing him luck as he begins his job at a new hospital), he comes to a giant sheet on which plays a film of his future.  He winds up marrying is on again, off again love interest, his son marries the daughter of his best friend Turk, and then we are left with a scene of a Christmas in the near future where JD, Turk, and Dr. Cox's families come together in a happy and joyous occasion (well, except for Dr. Cox).  It leaves the viewers with a very positive view of the future of these characters.  Yes, in real life things don't tie up that neatly, but TV shows aren't real life (not even reality shows).

Which brings me to Easter, the ultimate Happily Ever After story.  Jesus has died on the cross, people saw him, they ran a sword in him to make sure he was dead, they took him off the cross, wrapped him in a burial shroud, and moved him into a mausoleum, rolling a stone in front and setting guards to watch from grave robbers.  The story for everyone else in human history would have ended there, but Jesus rose from the dead, and showed himself alive.  The resurrection validated who he was, and thus validated everything he said about God, us, and eternal life.

Now, Ricky Gervais in the movie The Invention of Lying would say that this tremendous lie of a real Happily Ever After was told so we wouldn't fear the finality of death.  I guess that is one way to look at it.  I would go with the idea that it seems all of humanity throughout history is longing for the same thing because God has placed that desire within us.  Without the hope of a Happily Ever After, we are left with "the now" being heaven.  Without hope of an eternal, we focus on having our best life now.  We want instant gratification no matter how far we go into debt.  Our focus becomes more "me" focused and our choices in life become more reckless as we subconsciously realize that if we do suffer consequences, they are only temporary.

But Christianity is not a form of entertainment, it is real life.  Christianity presents it's case as events that happened in real time and space, as historical happenings.  Christianity doesn't deny that I will face hardships and struggles, it only offers the comfort that Jesus has overcome the world and offers eternal life, a Happily Ever After at the end.

Some may call my hope irrational (but who gets to define what's rational without a rational God?).  I don't.  It's greater than the hope we long for of a Happily Ever After after we we begin a novel, watch a movie, or follow a TV series.  It's greater than the hope the viewers of HIMYM longed for Ted Moseby and the Mother.  It's better than just an entertaining story because it's a real hope.  And it's the hope of a Happily Ever After I have found in Jesus.

For Christians, Easter is the reminder that Jesus secured for us a Happily Ever After.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?

-Romans 8:22-23


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