By Mark Brunke:
Christy and I had the chance to see Doctor Strange a few weeks ago. Like most of the Marvel movies, it was fun, humorous, and definitely action packed. Dr. Strange, yes that’s his actual legal surname, is the main character who is equal parts genius surgeon and total narcissist.
So far, there’s nothing all that strange about the movie. We’ve got a successful and self-centered man living in an ordinary world with his fancy watch and expensive sports car. But all of that rapidly changes as Dr. Strange is plunged into a world that is utterly, wait for it… strange. He quickly learns that sorcery and magic* are very real and our world is in constant peril from other dimensions and god-like beings. Channeling this sorcery makes the bizarre possible: fiery teleportation that would make SG-1 jealous, Swayze level astral projections, and twisting landscapes that make you think you’re in a dream within a dream. In fact, by the end of the film, we the audience have been inundated with so many of these incredible CGI miracles that they all become rather run of the mill. In the world of Doctor Strange, magic is normal.
But it’s not the special effects and magical abilities that make the movie worthwhile in my opinion. It’s the character growth that really shines here. You see, Dr. Strange takes to the bizarre world of magic and sorcery as if it were old hat, his native language. But when it comes to trusting others, thanking those who help him, or doing anything that requires even a shred of selfless thought, now these things are truly strange to the Dr. It’s upside down! The impossible becomes the norm in the film and what should be normal human behavior is the only thing that seems strange anymore.
But as the run time of the movie plugs along, we watch him not only take steps to becoming sorcerer supreme but we also see him take his first steps toward becoming a decent human being. And that effort blooms in the end with a truly selfless plan that saves the day.
I’m reminded as I watch Doctor Strange just how much I’m like him. I’m reminded that my “normal” state is consumed with thoughts of me. I’m reminded that selfless acts are more peculiar to my heart than they ought to be. And I would wager a guess that many who read these words can relate. From time to time, we all find ourselves living lives where concern for others is about as foreign as interdimensional travel. I hope you can agree with me that this just shouldn’t be. We’ve got it upside down and backwards!
So, as Christmas rolls around, join me in my pursuit of the strange attitude that Jesus Himself calls us to. Join me in striving to make myself last, allowing others to come first, knowing that in the end so will I. Join me in striving to lose my life in small and big ways knowing this is the real way to find it. Join me this Christmas season in flipping my idea of normal on it’s head so that selflessness would become the norm again and selfishness would be what is truly strange.
*This is Hollywood and make-believe so we don’t want to take this too seriously, but let me clarify that the Bible calls actual sorcery a sin. For more, check out this article.