Pixar’s second film explored quite different themes than “Toy Story”. “A Bug’s Life” looked at what it means to be different and how to live into that difference. One of the sub-plots interests me as well, though. It is the misinterpretation of information into facts: A dismissal into a quest, circus bugs into champions, rocks into symbolic gifts. The last is my favorite. The circus bugs watch a moment between Flik and Dot and read deep and meaningful significance into it. It’s funny. It’s also very true.
We do that. We read meaning and significance into things that are, in fact, meaningless. We like things to be important and relevant. We don’t like the idea that someone might have a private joke, that we just don’t have the information we need to understand something, or (heaven forbid) something is just random and meaningless. We create narrative in order for our world to make sense. It becomes worse when we are in a group.
Churches love to create a story around information. Over the years I have heard many a creative interpretation of random facts into a narrative that bears little to no resemblance to reality. My favorite story comes from my home church. About fifteen years ago or so, my mom was approached in our hometown by someone from church to tell her how excited she was that I was coming home to be the new pastor. The woman was also curious about when I had taken up riding motorcycles. Needless to say, Mama Mouse was a little confused. I was on my way to the Pacific Northwest and had never been a biker. After a little digging when I was home for a visit, the truth was this: my home church was getting their first female pastor. She had family in the area and she was a fairly serious cyclist. When people heard this it became something else. In the years since I left home I had become a biker and was coming back to lead the church. The seed had become a rock and the rock had acquired its own special significance.
Sometimes the rock is just a rock. Sometimes we just need to let go and let something just be until we have all the information. Sometimes we never really find out what’s going on. That’s okay. We don’t have to know everything.
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