Suspend Your Disbelief

My family and I were driving home through the mountains and the dark, towering, majestic mountains reminded me of a song from Calamity Jane.

I thought of how beautiful the song is and how you don’t hear music like this anymore. And how many young people have never seen movies like this. I felt so grateful that my my Grandma would put these on for her children and later introduced my sisters and I to classic movies like Oklahoma, Lili, The Sound of Music, Calamity Jane, and White Christmas. Movies that my high school drama teacher would have said you need to “suspend your disbelief” because in this day and age we view these movies as corny, out-dated, an irrelevant. We have become so cynical that we can’t enjoy the beauty that is portrayed in these movies.

The Scarcity of True Beauty

We also visited a yard sale and we found these paintings which only drove the point home even more. On the back of one of them it says : “In a time when nothing is more certain than change the commitment of two people to one another has become difficult and rare. Yet – by its scarcity-the beauty and value of this exchange have only been enhanced.” This quote is referring to marriage obviously, but I think that last part, about the “beauty and value has only been enhanced” applies to these classic movies, and other meaningful art. Sure, there may be elements that we can’t relate to because we live in a different time period. I also realize that this “Golden Age” of film was not the golden age for everyone, specifically minority groups. But this doesn’t negate the beauty that is there, the joy portrayed in the characters, it just can’t be found anymore.

The Human Condition

Beautiful art awakens your soul and softens your heart. It evokes sentimental feelings that remind you of what is important in life. Art connects us all; we all experience the human condition regardless of who we are, what we have done, or where we have been. Art reminds of of our intrinsic value as persons. We are all human. We are all made the same. We are all someone’s brother, sister, mother, father, daughter, or son. As Shakespeare said,

Make Glad the Heart of Childhood

We need these reminders in art, especially in an age so cynical where a person’s whole reputation can be destroyed overnight, in a time when suicide rates are sky-rocketing, and loneliness and spiritual desolation are rampant. To use some psychobabble, we need to be in touch with our inner child. Beautiful film and beautiful artwork are not frivolous wastes of time, but they just might be the best use of time. I think as a society we are losing our soul. Our connection to “faith, fancy, love, poetry and romance,” to quote Francis Pharcellus Church in his famous editorial, “Yes, Virginia.” Wikipedia describes Church as ” a hardened cynic and an atheist who had little patience for superstitious beliefs, did not want to write the editorial, and refused to allow his name to be attached to the piece.[4] More than a century later it is the most reprinted editorial in any newspaper in the English language.[1][2]” Remember,

“Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”

The Rate of Cynicism

As you see, cynicism is nothing new. What is new, is the rate at which it is promoted. Ridicule is nothing new, what is new is it happens at the speed of light. Check out this video:

Thank you, Grandma

So Grandma, I want you to know that I will carry on showing these movies to my children. I will teach them about beauty in art. Thank you for being a true lady. A lady of grace, dignity, and taste. A lady who knows what matters in life and will stand for nothing less. A keeper and protector of the sacred.

Don’t Stop Here

So go on, “suspend your disbelief” and go watch one of these classic movies. Go read some classic literature. Go look at some classic art. See if you can get something out of it.