I’m going to be about as popular for this review as Les was for his prediction of a Trump presidency, but Captain Fantastic was fantastic. Saying so doesn’t make me any less Christian and it doesn’t mean that I love Jesus any less. The funniest part in the whole move goes like this: “We don’t make fun of people,” … “
Fair warning, you will see more of Viggo Mortensen than you ever wanted to, you will hear bad language at a pace of roughly 25% to 50% of that experienced on a construction site, and you may have to rethink your ideal funeral. You’ll also need to be grounded enough in your faith and detached enough from religion to appreciate the profound realities communicated by this superb commentary on the delusions of the last century. In short, you’ll have to be brave to experience this, but if you’re brave enough you really just might come away with some new perspective and some new topics to take to God and Scripture.
I won’t spoil the plot by going into detail. Instead I’d like to focus on some general issues.
1. How understandably ridiculous purely religious practices appear to non-believers. Even dearly held & generally accepted practices, like planning a Christian funeral for a non-Christian family member in which some member of the clergy – who has never met our dearly departed – declares that they were Christians and proceeds to tell us everything we wish were true.
2. How thoroughly absurd and blatantly corrupt are the modern standards of education, child-rearing, legislative authority, and assimilation in general.
3. What it looks like to be “in the world” but not “of the world.”
First, and probably the longest of the topics is religiosity. C’mon fellow believer, face it, we’re weird. Much weirder than anyone that puts flowers in their hair and dresses in strikingly contrasting colors. Someone that has never been in a church before may even have the nerve, the gull, the irreverence, to want to participate in the conversation that the rest of us call a “sermon.” God forbid, they might even speak the truth too, rather than inaccurate but socially acceptable platitudes. That doesn’t make them weird, it reminds us how weird we are. Think about it for a minute. How many of Jesus’ sermons were monologues? Sure, there were some, but take the longest by far – the Sermon on the Mount – now look at the clock, give it a read, out-loud, and rather slowly. I came up with 14.5 minutes. His longest sermon, and basically the only monologue in all of the Gospels, didn’t top 30 minutes? Yet every week we listen to someone who is not Jesus speak for upwards of an hour or even more? C’mon, that’s pretty weird. Sure you & I can and do find value in being reminded over and over about all of the ways we come up short of Christ-likeness, but a non-believer that’s “stuck” attending for the sake of a funeral, wedding, or baptism? We shouldn’t expect them to adhere to our religion & frankly, many of us would do well to lighten up with other believers too.
I thought religiosity was going to be the long one, but this one could really go on forever. Modern society is so weird that everyone that has ever lived up until about a century ago would have PTSD if they had to spend a week in modern times. It’s not because we’re so great either, it’s because we’ve accepted and consumed so many atrocious “norms” that even our humanity has become unrecognizable. How ironic that society would never allow a citizen to raise their children to hunt and farm the way everyone did for most of human existence, but at the same time it perfects the arts of surgically murdering unborn children, graphically portraying acts of sadistic violence, and broadcasting sexual acts that even the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah would have never dreamed of into the homes of those same citizens. Society even shamelessly combines all of the above in packages that it calls “entertainment.” Yet, a guy’s kid is covered in bruises from hard work and harder play and he needs to fear the authorities? It’s madness.
Finally, what good does it do to try to make spiritual decisions for our children? How truly deep can the seed’s roots go when we spoon feed them our own special concoctions? The thing about Jesus is that He knocks on all of our hearts, and we must open the door and “sup with” Him. Nobody can do that for us. I’m not saying don’t demonstrate it. I’m not saying don’t recommend it. However, children that are taught to be spoon fed their meals, ideas, and priorities grow up into adults that require the same.
“Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?” – 1 Corinthians 1-3
Jesus is the real deal, and being the real deal means that He doesn’t need to be afraid of great ideas about how to celebrate the end of someone’s life. He isn’t worried that Noam Chomsky might actually be right about some things. In fact, He might even laugh at that “make fun of Christians” line with a knowing nod. In short, nothing “worldly” can compete.
It breaks Jesus’ heart that lost and wandering people can’t see Him through all of the religion in the churches of today that are supposed to represent His family. He longs to bring mothers that struggle with mental illness under His wings and bring them lasting healing. Instead society has embraced “modern medicine” to cure diseases that are more prevalent today than ever before in a self-perpetuating feedback loop that ultimately results in more and more sick and hurting people. All while too many Christians behave like the in-laws portrayed in this movie. When church looks so bad that it makes Buddha look good something is really wrong. When really smart people – the ones too smart to fall for all of the “god card” playing tactics of religious people – are fleeing in droves to find places where they can “meditate” on “nothingness” we have really only ourselves to blame.
We have ourselves to blame because all that has nothing to do with Jesus. Jesus gave Himself to us. Not a list of rules, not a religion, and not any buildings made with human hands. What He gave us is pure reality. He is The Way, The Truth, and The Life.
This movie was fantastic. By the end I saw a family of brilliant children who were freed of worldliness and instilled with liberty and knowledge. All of those things point to Jesus, because Jesus is the real deal. When the seed falls on that soil the roots will grow deep and far.
Who are we to know where their mom ends up? C.S. Lewis lent a very controversial possibility in this line: “all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account service done to me.” I believe Jesus, and I believe that nobody comes to the Father but by Him. What I don’t know is exactly who He has claimed for His own.
So hate it if you want. Don’t watch it if you you’re squeamish, but for my part I applaud this thought provoking work of art. I cannot recommend it for young children for obvious reasons, but for the True Remnant, I wholeheartedly recommend it. It will rend your heart for the beautiful souls that are white (John 4:35) around us and hindered only by the beautiful minds that God gifted them with. Sentiment isn’t enough for them, but they’ll recognize Truth when they see it. So let’s stick with the Truth, and even some less important truths, like how Sweet Child of Mine really is one of the best songs of all time.