In his book A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future, actor Michael J. Fox points out that some people take far too seriously what they see on the screen:
No matter how fantastic a move’s premise is, there are always a special few who buy in and accept the (craziness) at face value, like the hoverboard (seen in his 1985 movie Back to the Future). I’ve fielded more questions about hoverboards than any other aspect of the trilogy. Otherwise sane people were convinced that these devices actually existed, especially after (Director) Bob Zemeckis made tongue-in-cheek comments to the press about parent groups preventing toy manufacturers from putting them on the market (this resulted in hundreds of kids calling Mattel, demanding hoverboards for Christmas). Believe me, if someone had actually devised and manufactured a flying skateboard capable of propelling a surfer on an invisible wave of air, he didn’t let me in on the secret. It could have spared me from hours of dangling like a flesh-and-blood Pinocchio. Alternately strapped into every manner of harness, hinged leg brace, and flying apparatus the most sadistic special-effects engineers could devise, my foot stapled to that pink piece of plastic, I spent hours attached to metal cables, swinging from sixty-foot cranes, back and forth across the Courthouse Square set.
People believed those things existed? Apparently there is no boundary outside which some people will not stray when it comes to gullibility. If it’s on the big screen, it must be true. This is a variation of a greater truth: If it’s on the internet, it’s automatically true.
This is where we all roll our eyes.
In the 1940s Mary Jane Croft was a popular radio actor. In her autobiography–which I read years ago and still remember (everything except the title!)–she tells of being a player on a daytime radio soap opera. One day a fan appeared in the studio hallway all agog at meeting some of the actors from her favorite show. She approached one man and said, “I know you think your wife has run away from home, but actually she’s been abducted by some bad people. She still loves you.” The actor said, “Lady, it’s just a radio play. We say what they write for us.” But the woman was undeterred. “Oh,” she said, “I just love your family. And the baby is so precious.” Mary Jane Croft decided she would try to help the lady regain her balance and said, “Ma’am, would you like to meet the baby on our show?” “Oh yes. More than anything.” Croft pointed out a man in the hallway. “That’s the baby. He makes those gurgling sounds.” This did not penetrate. Croft called to him, “Bill, let me hear the baby noises.” The man made the cute little sounds of a baby, the same ones heard across the country on that soap opera. But it did not mean anything to the visitor. She was so sure it was all real that she went on talking and they gave up.
Of course, our sophisticated generation knows better, right?
Our generation has fantasy baseball and fantasy football. When a new Star Wars or Batman movie is released, long lines of fans appear at midnight to be first to see their favorite characters. Most of them are dressed in costume. For many, this is just harmless fun, but for others, they are dead serious.
Leonard Mlodinow was a writer for the original Star Trek television series. Once at a cocktail party, he came upon a man and woman who were handsome, articulate, and no doubt well-educated. They were having a conversation about their love for that show. As he stood nearby listening quietly, one quoted a lengthy passage of Vulcan philosophy to the other who was eating it up. As Mlodinow listened, something occurred to him: He had written that junk. “I wrote so much of it,” he later said, “that I tended to forget it. And yet here these people were believing it, quoting it as gospel.” He was stunned and walked away shaking his head.
Yes they do. Some will recall the cult members a few years ago who committed suicide together in the belief that a comet was going to rapture them. As I recall, they were huge Star Trek fans. They believed the “junk.”
“We did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,” wrote the Apostle Peter. “But (we) were eyewitnesses of His majesty” (2 Peter 1:16).
If you want fiction, the choice seems endless. Novelists are hard at work right now to keep you entertained.
If you want reality, the choices are far more limited. For instance, there is one God of the universe, one Creator of mankind, one Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, one Savior of the world, and one gospel. “Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
If you want fantasy religion, join the Mormons or any of a thousand other cults. If you want Truth–and we should!–you will want to stay in the New Testament. Find a church that believes and teaches that book as it is, a church that believes Jesus Christ is Lord, that His death on the cross was sufficient to cleanse us from all sin, that He bodily rose from the dead, and that He is returning one day to judge the living and the dead.