’FlashForward’ worth a second look

All of have us some uncertainty about the future. Over the last year much of the attention in the news has been on the fragility of careers, money and rapid alteration of our best laid plans.

As Christians we can, albeit with difficulty depending on our circumstances, yield some of that uncertainty to our faith. Many of have heard some variation of the suggestion to “give God the problem” and let it go through prayer.

But what if your problem was you actually already knew the future and wanted to hit the pause button because what was coming was not something you wanted?

That’s the premise of the new ABC show “FlashForward,” the second installment of which airs tonight. The premise in that everyone in the world loses consciousness for a minute and 27 seconds and during that time everyone has a movie-like experience of seeing themselves on the same date roughly seven months in the future.

Some of the flashes are hopeful, as in the case of a doctor who is about to commit suicide on a Southern California pier and then sees in his flash that his world is wonderful a few months.

Most of the flashes are more calamitous.

The show’s lead, FBI agent Mark Benford (played by Joseph Fiennes), has a much grimmer outlook. Benford is a recovering alcoholic who sees himself working deep into the night and deep into a flask of whiskey examining evidence from the flash. His wife’s flash is of her having an adulterous affair with a man she has never met before – until the last five minutes of the first episode, of course.

Another teaser is we see the FBI agents finding a man on a surveillance video walking around as normal as could be at a Detroit baseball stadium while everyone else is passed out.

These plot twists are balanced out by a ridiculous gloss-over of the calamity that ensues while everyone was out. The fact that planes are down and millions have died as a result is dealt with by flashes of cable news in the background. At the end of the episode Fiennes is casually fixing a garage door and making a crack to his wife about how it was a slow day. I can understand wanting to get into the meat of the plot, but that’s just plain silly.

In the next seven months some of us will undoubtedly experience significant changes, positive and negative. Many of us will likely be doing pretty much what we are now and looking forward to when it will be warm enough to go to the pool instead of when we’ll pull out the shovel for the first time.

‘FlashForward’ is worth a second look to see how it deals with the uncertainty we all have and flips it on its head. There will surely be other warts in the plot and it may not survive to the end of the year.

What is certain is that our real ability to predict the future in the context of our faith (Luke 17:22-35) or the context of our personal lives must be tempered by the reality that our feelings of complete control should be viewed as fleeting at best.


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