Jason Gardner takes a look at the latest hit TV series Flash Forward
Theologian Tom Wright has an interesting take on the relationship between religion and the contemporary world. He argues that in the Victorian era much damage was done by a society, that by and large, tried to suppress sexuality. The problem was that sex was and is such a strong part of our story that trying to keep a lid on it didn't really work. Hence the Victorian era saw a proliferation of brothels spring up and saw the birth of the first sleazy tabloid papers.
Wright believes that the same can be said of religion and spirituality. Our society suppresses faith in both an overt and covert manner: the role of religion is sidelined in education, frequently sidestepped in politics and only tends to surface in media when there's a controversy to be talked about.
However, as a result, we see issues connected to ultimate questions and the supernatural surface in much of our popular culture. You can't keep a good story down and there's always an appetite for those tales that tap into the mystery of life.
And so to Flash Forward - the latest in a series of TV shows that capitalise on the inexplicable. Lost, Heroes and FringeI are all recent shows that make heavy use of the term 'unexplained phenomenon' or hint at the fact that humankind's destiny is being manipulated by the hand of either fate or God or gods.
Flash Forward is no different. The story goes that simultaneously everyone on earth experiences a blackout: they fall unconscious for just over two minutes. During that time they all see a glimpse of their future at the same point six months into the future - hence the title.
The blackout causes mayhem. As well as the many who are in mourning - due to fatalities caused by those losing consciousness at the helm of vehicles- the vast majority of people, understandably, are rocked by the implications of the vision.
Is this the finger of God or the result of rogue science? And how do they now live having seen a glimpse of a life yet to come? Does the vision show a defined path - a determined unchangeable course of action or simply one of many possible outcomes?
As one of the cast comments 'Everyone's a prophet now' but the new gifting is seen as a bane not a boon. Much of religion, organised or otherwise, historic or present is concerned with glimpsing the future. Many wish to know what hand fate is going to deal them; Flash Forward implies that few of us could live with the consequences of such insight.
Part of the problem is that the visions are no mumbled platitudes from fortune tellers- there are no 'tall, dark handsome strangers' on the horizon or a lottery win foreseen in tea leaves. No these revelations are blindingly clear and the entire planet becomes entranced by what happens six months down the line.
So be careful what you wish for. They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing - in the case of Flash Forward 2 minutes worth of the future proves to be down right catastrophic.The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
As well as teaching on this subject for the LICC he also lectures on Film, and Contemporary Music; helps run a sex and relationships course for young people along with His wife Rachel entitled ‘Romance Academy’; is a regular contributor to Youthwork magazine and presents school conferences for the Damaris trust. Jason has also been a voluntary youth worker most of his adult life for secular and Christian youth groups.
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