“And now, O Lord, what do I wait for?
My hope is in you.”
—Psalm 39:7 (NRSV)
I’ve heard from several of you now, asking if I have seen and what I think of the new movie Planet of the Humans. Directed by Jeff Gibbs and produced by Michael Moore, it is currently making the rounds on the web and stirring up some considerable controversy. Yes, I have seen it. It is very disheartening. Coming, as it does, in the middle of our pandemic, more bad news right now is not what most of us are looking for. So, if you decide to watch it, at least know what you’ll be getting into.
The basic premise is that the green movement has been taken over by toxic capitalism, and that most of our supposed “progress” toward a healthier future is little more than smoke and mirrors. It is very much a doom and gloom message and ends without offering much of anything in the way of hope or inspiration. I assume the point is to shock us out of our complacency about our current environmental crisis, and I don’t doubt that the broad outlines of the film are essentially true. But I have at least two strong objections.
First, the film spends a lot of time blaming billionaires. It sets up an “us versus them” spirit that is, I believe, grossly oversimplified and not ultimately helpful. Not that I’m rushing to the defense of billionaires, but human nature inclines all of us to take advantage of situations that are felt to be in our own best interests. That’s true regardless of how much money we may or may not have. And while wealthy people certainly have more opportunities and can have a greater impact, that impact can as easily be for good as for ill. Wealth does not automatically make a person greedy and guilty. Poverty does not automatically bestow virtue. “Us versus them” is not part of the solution. It is part of the problem.
Second, I strongly object to the whole spirit of hopelessness that pervades the film and is especially disturbing in the graphic closing scenes. If I believed that this movie was the whole truth of our future, there would hardly be any point in trying. But I do not believe that. I believe in the human spirit. I believe in human creativity. And I believe that these very human qualities are in us because we have been created in the image of God. We must, at times, suffer through disappointments and setbacks. But a God given determination to find new solutions is a defining characteristic of our humanity. And no matter what happens, God will not let us go.
As a balance to the darkness of this movie, let me suggest you find a way to watch the new series on Apple TV+ called Home. It is one of the most beautiful, inspiring and, yes, hopeful shows I’ve seen in a long time. People can do wonderful things when we pour our hearts and souls into new possibilities.
In closing, I’d share with you some words of Karla M. Kincanon, from her book “Creativity and Divine Surprise.” (Quoted in A Guide to Prayer for All Who Walk With God, by Rueben Job, Norman Shawchuck & John Mogabgab.)
Knitting together the known and the unknown, the seen and the unseen, our creativity helps us make something whole and beautiful out of the pieces of our existence. It reveals to us the truth of our soul in the place of our own resurrection.
Yours in Grace,