As a former aspiring filmmaker, I love the movie because of the brilliant script by the greatest screenwriter of all-time William Goldman (who also penned Harper, Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid, All The President’s Men, Marathon Man, Misery, etc.). Goldman is a master and the movie is yet another example of how to make a brilliant film (as opposed to 90% of what comes out of Hollywood).
If you have never seen the film (shame on you!) it is a fairy tale told by a grandfather to his sick grandchild who is home from school. It is about a woman, Buttercup, who is engaged to marry a corrupt prince intent on starting war after her “true wuv (see the movie) is assumed dead after being hijacked at sea by the “Dread Pirate Roberts” who supposedly never leaves a person alive. One day a mysterious man, who may or may not be Buttercup’s long-lost “true wuv” shows up and rescues the Princess Bride from a gang of colorful kidnappers. The ensuing adventure is a lot of fun and even appropriate for whole families to watch (surprising given that Mr. Goldman drops more F-bombs than in a sentence than has been unloaded at a Hollywood comedy club over a decade!).
As a pastor there is another reason to love The Princess Bride, it points to the existence of God. How? Glad you asked.
Love, “true wuv” that is (sorry, I can’t stop using it) makes no sense within a purely naturalistic worldview. If atheism is true then we are nothing but material beings who simply follow whatever is accidentally programmed in to our DNA. Like all other animals we should care about what atheist philosopher Patricia Churchland calls “The Four F”s”: feeding, fighting, fleeing and the crude F word for reproducing. But one need only listen to Top 40 radio (not that I recommend it!) for a few moments to see that we believe in true love. We believe in a deep, emotional commitment for life to one person. But if we are nothing but animals we shouldn’t care about such things. We should want to drop our partner whenever they threaten our basic needs and seek to reproduce with as many partners as possible! Now, of course, there are frat boys and middle-aged dudes with open collars and gold chains who hang around sports bars that fit this description but we generally look down upon this behavior or are outright grossed out by it. We believe in love and we believe it is more (and must be more) than just animal instinct that keeps us with another for life with all of its ups and downs.
Yes, there are some animals that “mate for life,” like some penguins and some gibbons. But when a gibbon cheats on its partner (and they do), the other gibbons don’t listen to Taylor Swift songs or power ballads while crying in the dark! We experience true heartbreak and even pain and sometimes outrage when others suffer a broken heart. We believe in love, “true wuv” (last time, I promise) and it is evidence that we are more than material, which means we live in something more than a material universe. It means we are complex creatures that point to an intelligent designer who wants us to feel perhaps to point us to an even great love than romantic love.
But then that, ‘Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” is cool too and that points to justice, which if are just material beings…well, that’s enough for today. You get the point.
Next week, “Beauty, Edward Scissorhands and the Existence of God.” Until then, grace and peace.