Maybe because our country was formed by a rebellion, we love rebellion stories, don’t we? What are your favorite rebellion stories?
Obviously one of the classics is Star Wars – the saga of how a simple moisture farmer took down an evil empire. But maybe my favorite is arguably the greatest film of all time: Mad Max: Fury Road.
Hopefully you’ve seen Fury Road. If not, here’s a quick summary. Title aside, the film is really about Imperator Furiosa (played by Charlize Theron). In the post-apocalyptic Australian wasteland, water has become humanity’s most precious commodity, and the fearsome Immortan Joe controls the water supply. He’s built a huge empire by controlling water.
And the movie is about how one of his trusted lieutenants rebels against him and brings his empire down. That lieutenant is Furiosa. Appropriately, the film ends with her taking over and giving oppressed humanity all the water they need.
That’s the thing about rebellion movies: they end at what in so many ways is the beginning of the story. Because successful rebellions are about the end of something old. Which clears the way for the new goodness – Star Wars’ Galactic Republic or Furiosa’s rule or the US of A. Take your pick.
Of course part of the reason for that is that movies are all about the action and drama, and rebellions have tons of that. But when we zoom out and look at what happens to rebellions in real life, maybe there’s another reason, a reason the director of Fury Road, George Miller hit on.
He’s making a Furiosa prequel film, and in an interview, he was asked what this iconic fan-favorite’s future was. He said:
There’s two ways to go. One is utopian. I imagined the first thing she’d do in line with that is go up and release the water… But following history, what tends to happen… Joseph Campbell said that the usual story is that today’s hero becomes tomorrow’s tyrant. You love what you’ve built, or saved, too much… You become the orthodoxy. You develop the dogma and basically then you have to protect it. That tends to be the rhythm of these things.
Today’s hero becomes tomorrow’s tyrant.
Ouch. We don’t want to think of our heroes that way. And yet history proves it over and over again.
So my question for us today: how does a church in the wild keep from becoming a church of tyrants? How can we remain revolutionary?