Bird Box has launched a new meaning for “canary in a coal mine” into pop culture. In this story, bird’s tweet whenever the (apparently) invisible monsters are around…they don’t die before we do, rather they tell us “Don’t look….don’t look! Or you WILL die.”
There were points in this movie where I wanted to close my eyes. It’s deeply unsettling at times. The idea that, unless one is prepared to live one’s life blinded, is horrifying on all sorts of levels that are wonderfully explored in Bird Box. Trying to keep two little ones safe while riding the rapids blindfolded – now that’s an excuse for extreme anxiety right there.
People have spent time this Christmas trying to work out whether the underlying premise of Bird Box is a metaphor for some important aspect of modern life? Perhaps it’s all about the fear of becoming a parent? Well, having been a parent for 22 years, I can say that I’d sure hate to have done it blindfolded. Maybe instead, the metaphor is a warning against social media and the way people behave on it? Not sure about that one. It’s what I DO see on twitter that worries me, not what I don’t see.
But one idea that struck me hard was the notion that Bird Box is about religion, that people take a blind leap of faith to become “religious.” While I won’t speak on behalf of “religions,” I will speak on behalf of Christianity. And – at first glance – the Bible does seem to say something about “walking by faith and not sight.”
“Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” (Hebrews 11:1, NLT)
“For we live by believing, and not by seeing.” (2 Corinthians 5:7, NLT)
So the question is – does Christianity require its adherents to limit our vision, and to close our eyes to the things in front of everyone else’s noses. That sounds crazy…like a real tragedy…people holding themselves back for no good reason. Is Christianity the intellectual equivalent of donning a blindfold and stupidly choosing to stumble through life like “the Bird Box lady” (twitter’s name for Sandra Bullock)? After all…the monsters aren’t real…right?
No – Christianity’s not like this caricature suggests. And I’ll give you three reasons why I say that (there are many more).
1 – Christianity is about looking reality square in the face, not looking away or hiding from it.
The reality is that people are capable of evil things, and our niceness turns out to be a thin veneer of morality. One of my professors, Clay Jones, comments that having studied genocides down through human history, “genocide is what the average person does…we are all born Auschwitz enabled.” If you want an example of this, the leading cause of premature death in the world in 2018 was abortion. I think it strains credulity to suggest all those abortions were done on medical grounds.
“More than 41 million children [were] killed before birth…8.2 million people died from cancer…5 million from smoking…1.7 million died of HIV/AIDS.”
Christianity is about unmasking this sort of reality and saying it as it is. All of us are capable of great things, selfless things…but also evil things. The monsters in the real story turn out to be us. And Christianity recognises this. Suffering is real, and people like you and me cause it.
2 – Christianity is not about wearing a blindfold. It is about wisely recognising the limitations of my sight.
Christianity is not about limiting one’s vision. Its about facing reality. But it’s also about understanding faith in the right way. Faith is not “the blind embrace of ideas despite an absence of evidence or proof,” rather faith is about exercising “confidence, trust and reliance” in the right person.
Because Christian faith is about trust and reliance, it is therefore requires us to have proper reasons, evidence and knowledge on which to base or trust and reliance.
I choose to trust the God who has revealed himself to me because on my own, I am severely limited in my abilities and my understanding of what is going on in the world, and even in my own life. It’s not that I have no vision or understanding at all, its just that I’m limited in what I can know. So, I choose therefore to trust the one who’s got the big picture in full view – God.
If you think about it, faith therefore requires reason and evidence, and it results in a widening of our confidence not a restriction of it.
3 – Christian faith is about using all our faculties to live life based on what we can see and know, while leaving the mysterious hidden stuff in God’s capable hands.
Because I’m just a limited human being, there is bound to be stuff that I simply do not know and this bothers me.
I want to know that my kids and grand-kids are going to grow up happy, healthy, successful and fulfilled. But there’s no guarantee. I can do all I can do to bring that about…but…I’m limited. I want to know that I’m healthy and, as I look after myself, I’m going to be free of disease and sickness. But – there are no guarantees.
Now – I can choose to live my life doing my best, burying my head in work and relationships and business (therefore limiting my attention to just those things)….which is not wrong. But I would suggest that an even better way of living is giving myself to all these important things while also rooting myself in my trust, confidence, reliance….or faith in God. Trusting that however it turns out…he has the best for me. This is not to say everything in my life will turn out as I want it to. It does mean that I don’t have to fret and worry about this, because ultimately God’s in control and it’ll turn out as he wants it to.
The truth is…often I am confused and scared and anxious about life. And I feel inside like “the Bird Box lady”. And yet, I also know something else to be true.
“The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you.” Deuteronomy 33:27, NLT.
 Clay Jones, Why Does God Allow Evil, (Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2017), 60, 62.
 Thomas D. Williams, Abortion Leading Cause of Death in 2018 with 41 Million Killed, Breitbart, http://www.breitbart.com/health/2018/12/31/abortion-leading-cause-of-death-in-2018-with-41-million-killed/.
 J. P. Moreland and Klaus Issler, In Search of a Confident Faith, (Downers Grove: IVP Books, 2008), 16, 17.