–Originally published on FWB21 April 28, 2011–
I recently watched Phantom of the Opera with my 16-year-old sister-in-law, who had never seen it. When the movie credits started to roll, she said, “I don’t get it.” My brain, on the other hand, was about to explode.
There is a thing in missiology called a “redemptive analogy.” Don Richardson first coined the term to describe those things that are inherent within a culture that either point to Christ or could be used to demonstrate the gospel. (If you haven’t read Peace Child or Eternity in Their Hearts–the two books that birthed this concept–I recommend that you do so immediately.) Phantom of the Opera is chock full of redemptive anaolgies.
Themes of darkness/evil/murder/lust/hatred/pride/control are constantly contrasted–both in word and deed–with light/goodness/life/love/compassion/selflessness/free will. The Phantom is the embodiment of the first set, while the Count is the embodiment of the second. In the middle stands Christine.
There is a moment near the end of the movie where the Phantom is about to kill the Count and forces Christine to choose between the two men in a lose-lose situation. Christine makes it clear that his face no longer horrifies her–it is his heart that does so. Pushed to choose, Christine asks for courage, then proceeds to give the Phantom a kiss–not of passion, but of compassion. Might I even say, a kiss of grace? From that moment, the Phantom–finally seeing himself for what he truly is–retracts, repents, and sends Christine away with her true love. Changed, the Phantom breaks his mirrors in a symbolic act of putting off the old man and escapes, leaving behind the mask that has hidden the horror of his face–and his heart–for a lifetime.
When the movie ended, I thought of Solomon’s manner of learning wisdom:
I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a man lacking sense… then I saw and considered it; I looked and received instruction. Prov. 24:30-34
I felt as though, by merely observing such an acute portrayal of human character and universal truths, I had gained wisdom. Much like reading (or watching) one of Shakespeare’s plays. If we are saturating ourselves with the wisdom of God’s Word, His Spirit can teach us to see Truth in a host of places. As we learn and grow, let’s be ready to share the Truth we see with others in a way that will draw them to His side and glorify Him.