I’m going to say some things blatantly and simply here. I’m going to write more about myself than this film, because, honestly, I feel like my internal response to THE HAPPENING was more about me and all the filters this film had to pass through than about Mark Wahlberg’s slack acting or Zooey Deschanel’s mesmerizing blue eyes.
One time when I was in China I told God to go do Himself, only I didn’t say “do.” I told God I was done with Him and with being a Christian and with all those damn other Christians that just make a damn mess of everything. And, I swear to you – hand on the Holy Word: I heard God laugh. It was one of those, “you couldn’t be done with Me if you tried” kinda laughs. And then a few days after God laughed, I watched DOGMA with some friends and there at the end, when God walks out of the church and it’s Alanis Morisette, I nearly fell out. Tears and snot and dry-heaving swelled up later because, when I saw Alanis standing there as God, some light went on inside me that exposed all my ignorance about who God is and who I am and why God and I are so joined at the hip. And I realized right there that, more than anything in my life, I wanted to know God and I wanted God to know me. And now when people ask me why I stayed in China a second year when I only intended to be there one, the first thought in my head is, “because when I saw God wearing a skirt I knew I had a lot to learn about Him.”
Fast forward to a few weeks back. I walked into THE HAPPENING with all this expectation to be blown away a la UNBREAKABLE, or totally freaked like in SIGNS, or utterly delighted to the hilt as in THE LADY IN THE WATER – but none of that happened. And I can’t even get into a debate about the merits of Shamalyan’s film because, like that viewing of DOGMA, THE HAPPENING hit me at a place that was very deep and very secret and very dark, and when it hit that place, just like seeing Alanis walking out of that church, some light went on in my gut and I had this massive realization, as if for the first time in my life, that, “holy shit: the Kingdom of God is REALLY near.” I’m still not sure what to do with all that, but I came out of THE HAPPENING on my knees and with my hands covering my head. And that’s not a normal reaction to a film.
I believe this film can be a great deal louder than an environmental public service announcement. I believe this film, at least in my life, echoes John the Baptist’s words to repent, to get ready, to listen as the earth squeals with birth pangs and cries out for salvation. The rocks are crying. The trees are groaning. There is a need, in us and in the earth, to be ravished and rescued. There is a need to look one another in the eye, especially those closest to us, in our smallest circles, and confess and pronounce love and truth and preparation. And that’s a good word. That’s a hopeful word. That’s a word I want to hear from as many mouths as possible. And if my spirit desires to hear that word in a Summer blockbuster, even if that was not the intended message, I won’t argue. And if God wants to show up wearing a skirt, flopping over in a handstand, then I'm okay with that, too.