One of the great things about being an active, believing Christian is to entertain a certain optimism about the future.  In the long run, we believe, God is in charge.  And in God’s good time, the Kingdom will finally arrive, and the reign of Jesus will be evident to all.  The afterlife will be one of fellowship, and peace, where all will live in harmony and goodwill.  This conviction doesn’t necessarily mean that we don’t take seriously the reality of sin, evil, death, and chaos in the world now.  It just means that we happen to believe that those won’t have the last word.  And we also think that the Spirit of the Lord inspires folks to do things that reflect the Kingdom’s glory, even as we also think that people can choose to ignore that guidance, and go their own ways, because of the reality of human free will.

All that is important as a context for “Tomorrowland,” because through all the sci-fi glitz and glitter, it’s really all about whether one chooses to be optimistic about the future.  No, it’s not the old thing about the glass being half-full, it’s instead the story of which wolf you choose to feed (the peaceful one or the devouring one), but the point is the same.  You either choose to give up on any kind of useful purpose for the world’s advancement, cynically figuring that it’s all going to Hell in a handbasket, anyway, or you decide that if everybody could just share the hopeful vision, there’s no limit to what we can do together.

Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) is the kind of girl who will sneak into a NASA facility to sabotage the shutting-down of the platform, just because she believes so strongly that NASA ought not give up on its space exploration, no matter what political considerations might intervene.  She’s obviously bright, and like her NASA-engineer Dad, just seems to know how things work.  But her Dad has begun carrying the resigned air of the disappointed cynic.  Casey thinks everyone is just giving up too easily.

One day she happens upon a token from a previous World’s Fair, and a funny thing happens when she touches it: she is transported to another realm, in the future.  She’s absolutely fascinated---not scared at all---not even when she tries to find out how to re-charge her strange intergalactic device, and runs across some very strong opposition, of the robotic variety.  Fortunately, she’s rescued by a cute little freckle-faced girl, Athena (Raffey Cassidy), who has many secrets of her own, but nonetheless manages to recruit Casey to pursue her dream of visiting “Tomorrowland” once more.

Along the way, Casey meets a jaded old former dreamer, Frank Walker (George Clooney), who at first just tries to discourage Casey from hoping that anyone could actually convince the world to not be about its self-destruction (you know the drill:  climate change, polar ice cap melting, pollution, overpopulation, resource depletion, famine, drought, etc.).  Frank and Casey, an unlikely pairing, still manage to get themselves to a part of Tomorrowland that has itself been taken over by the militant hard-liners, so that it’s all about security and dictatorial control.  Can the dystopian future be rescued from itself by super-intelligent optimists today? Well, that’s the question, isn’t it?  Which wolf do you feed?


Questions For Discussion:

1)      Which part of the Christian end-time conviction is appealing to you?  Which part isn’t?

2)      Do you have confidence that the world is heading toward God’s future?  Or more like straight to Hell in a handbasket?

3)      The “2001: A Space Odyssey” Question:  Do you think that artificial intelligence devices will become so sophisticated that they will be able to override their own programming?

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen is the Supply Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Kaufman, Texas