It’s too early to go into detail without spoiling the film, but I can draw out several analogies very generally from just the trailer and my own first viewing of the film last week. Passengers is a visually very beautiful and inspiring film, a must-see if you are a genuine science-fiction fan. And it’s something that must be watched on the big screen, so you’ve got to see it now, while it’s still in the theatres.
And it also raises some opportunities to make some pretty astounding spiritual analogies.
For one, the film’s premise ignores the “latest cosmology” proposed by the film Interstellar, in which spacecraft traverse between stars by wormholes— here we have the more traditional interstellar travel. The starship Avalon travels at half the speed of light, and as the film starts she is still 80 years away from her destination. This is what fuels the conflict in the film. One of the passengers is accidently awakened out of suspended animation, and it doesn’t take him long to figure out his horrible situation: he will have to live out the rest of his life alone, aboard this gigantic starship carrying 5000 other passengers (and a sizeable crew) all asleep.
The analogy is obvious. Those of you who have read some of my previous Analogies and have followed through the paper trail I’ve left, and have subsequently come to trust Christ as saviour— or those of you Christians who have accidently discovered this site since you were born-again— you have finally discovered what I loosely call “the land of the living.” That mysterious verse in Ephesians 5:14—which is so unfathomable to the unbeliever— takes on new meaning when it’s contrasted to the situation on board the Avalon. The scripture says, “Wherefore he saith, ‘Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.’”. This passage has baffled readers for generations. How can a sleeper also be considered dead?
Well, in suspended animation a person is in such a deep “sleep” that for all intents and purposes he is dead to the world. He can’t be “woken up” by a slap to the face and a pinch on the cheek. He’s got to be woken up by a special procedure. In the case of a passenger aboard the Avalon, if the procedure is not carefully followed, the prospect can be irretrievably damaged.
Here we have the case of a living person being kept alive physically, while his mind is completely unaware of his circumstances. This is the state the God describes in Ephesians 5:14. Before we become Christians, we are simultaneously dead and alive. We are alive physically, but in a state of spiritual suspended animation. We move, we breath, we think, we act— but spiritually we are asleep. We have not been “turned on” spiritually. That’s what Jesus came to do— and what He commissioned us to do after we are turned on— turn other people on. . That’s what’s happening to characters like Nicodemus (John Chapter 3) and the Samaritan woman (John Chapter 4). Jesus had to turn them “on”. That’s what a true born-again Christian is, a person who’s been turned “on”. I won’t go into any more detail here NOW, because I want to develop a marvellous analogy made possible only because of this beautiful film.
My point is this. Before I became a Christian I was always under the impression that something was missing. (I guess that’s what must occasionally cross the mind of a person who is still in suspended animation.) After I was turned “on”, I was elated to discover that my premonitions had been right all along. I was so overjoyed at being born again— at the incredible prospect of living forever— at the joy of having actual fellowship with God— that it took a while before I realized another truth. It suddenly occurred to me that most of my fellow passengers (the people in my life, at school, at work, in the mall) were still asleep. I remember walking the streets of downtown Toronto, seeing the thousands of people everywhere, and thinking, “these people are still asleep.”
And that’s when it dawned on me that it was now my duty to do what had been done to me— wake people up.
But although I’ve been doing this now for over 35 years, it wasn’t until I saw Passengers that I realized why I still so often feel so all alone. I’m just like fellow in the film—Jim Preston— awakened 80 years before his time. It’s because everybody around me is still asleep. That explains the familiar feeling we all get— how can there be so many lonely people in a world full of so many people? They are all still asleep.