OK, all you good elders in PCUSA
churches, turn in your Book of Order to W-1.3000 (p.80 in the 2013-2015
you will find an erudite discussion of time, space, and matter, particularly
as it relates to Christian worship.
And this, dear readers, is precisely what is
missing from the oh-so-humanist approach in “Lucy.”
The movie begins with an awkward
exchange outside a high-rise bank building in urban Taiwan:
a pretty young woman, Lucy (Scarlett Johansson)
is resisting the persistent pleadings of her brand-new boyfriend to run this
“simple” errand for him, to carry a locked briefcase inside the bank lobby
and ask for a certain Mr. Jang (Min-sik Choi), and simply give him the
she finally (reluctantly) agrees, she walks into a world she could not have
gangsters appear, the gunfire begins, her boyfriend is killed, and she’s
taken captive and drugged against her will so a package of drugs can be
inserted inside her abdomen.
Meanwhile, a smooth, suave,
sophisticated, intelligent Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman) is lecturing an
attentive group of students and visitors in a packed lecture hall about his
20-year research into brain capacity, and how we only use 10% at any given
time, which is true of most species, as well, except dolphins (who use 20%).
He speculates that if we could somehow harness a
greater percentage, the brain would not only be able to expand its capacity
for knowledge (like learning other languages, or understanding quantum
physics), there are even indications, in the theoretical higher percentages,
that the brain could manipulate, wait for it-----------time, space, and
Of course these two seemingly
parallel tracks in the movie are related.
Lucy, it turns out, has unwillingly become
ingested with a new synthetic drug that is supposed to imitate and duplicate
the hormones that a pregnant woman would pass on to her fetus:
the very life-enhancing building blocks that
develop cells, except instantaneously, so that the firing of the neurons
becomes a new kind of “high” for druggies everywhere.
Mr. Jang, the Mobster, has already envisioned the
commercial possibilities, and so he’s kidnapped Lucy to be a “mule,”
along with several others, to carry this new, incredible product to other
world capitals, for immediate sale and distribution.
Lucy, formerly helpless and
chained to a wall, now has acquired the immediate superpower of increased
brain capacity, which enables her to easily escape her captors.
But now what?
Her super-smarts enable her to locate Dr. Norman,
and insist that they need to meet, so that she can show him what really
happens when the brain’s activity level is increased.
But of course the gangsters are
after their new boutique drugs, and cannot understand how every time they try
violence with this Lucy, strange things happen, like all the attackers fall
asleep at once, or their guns and knives wind up on the ceiling, or they
suddenly can’t move forward, as if held back by an invisible wall of energy.
They call Lucy a “witch.”
When Lucy meets Professor Norman,
she tells him that she has now transcended beyond human emotion, such as fear,
desire, greed, or depression.
She simply wishes to expand her state of being
further, so that she can tele-transport herself, not only through space but
also through time, as if the boundaries of matter, well, just didn’t matter
Christians, of course, hold out
the steadfast hope that our transformation in the coming Kingdom would be like
this film steadfastly refuses to go religious, even proclaiming in an overdub
that we “were given” life, as if using the passive voice would actively
deny the participation of the Divine Creator.
Well, it’s a rare film that
bounces between philosophical treatises (Hegel would have been proud) and
Christian cannot help but notice how assiduously they avoid invoking the name
of God. But
as the aforementioned Book of Order proclaims, the Christian is called “to
participate in God’s purpose to redeem time, to sanctify space, and to
transform material reality for the glory of God” (W-1.3040).
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen is the
Minister, St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church,