Jonathan Storment has a great series on the the theology of Stranger Things at his Patheos blog, and I want to focus on one post in particular, which discusses what the world has lost during our periods of progress, and ultimately, what has stayed the same:
Back in the 40’s and 50’s, the Western views of progress were incredibly optimistic. Flipping through a few pages of Popular Mechanics from that era you’re reminded of how we ever put a man on the moon (and yet disappointed that you never got your flying car).
Watching predictions from these people who were on the cutting edge of one technological breakthrough after another makes us nostalgic for the days when we thought that the human condition was just one invention away from being fixed.
But today, after decades of improvement, we (or at least our story-tellers) have learned that technological advances don’t necessarily mean advancements in virtue or character. In fact, they often are the very things that undermine it.
We now have the capacity to treat cancer, give antibiotics and do surgery with lasers…As well as the ability to split an atom and kill millions.
The human race is in as much control of our destinies as we have ever been, and yet when we look forward all we see is the doom of our own making.
Think of any of the futuristic movies/shows/novels you have read in the past few years. How many of them paint a dark and bleak future? Can you name any that can paint anything resembling a utopia without a dark underbelly?
In “Let’s Fly A Coot”, episode 20, season 26 of The Simpsons, Homer gives a list of TWENTY-THREE such dystopian movies that has been released since 2005… and that episode is from two years ago. We obviously have some kind of collective obsession with the world coming to an end. Back to the post:
I’m thinking now of the BBC show Black Mirror, or Mad Men, or just about every summer blockbuster for the past 10 years. The cost of progress is apparently our imagination for a better world.
We used to imagine creating utopias, now all we seem to be able to imagine is dragons.
We have created a future where we have everything we ever wanted and now we see that it isn’t enough to deal with our human condition and yet we’re terrified it will be taken away.
There’s a story close to the beginning of the Bible, where humans have made a huge leap in technological achievement. We’ve just invented the brick, and now we have big dreams for what that will lead to.
So some people get together and think, what if we build a tower that can reach to Heaven? Then we will be able to make a name for ourselves, ostensibly making us eternal. And God comes down and thwarts their plan, not according to Genesis, out of concern for Himself, but out of concern for what this hubris might do to our souls.
There is a Cost of Progress that we see played out every day of our modern lives. It is an existential angst about what we are capable of doing to one another in order to build our towers.
It is the cost that comes when we realize that the monster isn’t just out there.
The monster is, as the end of ST [Stranger Things] suggests, staring back at us in the mirror.
Dreading death while dressed to the nines on AMC’s Mad Men. (Image Source)
Indeed, indeed. Check out the whole post here.