I’m breaking the first two rules. Sorry. Not Sorry. Okay, so, let’s talk about Fight Club.
Part One “Your things own you.”
After the Narrator (the main character) has his apartment explode out of its high-rise container, he’s forced to befriend a buddy he met on an airline, Tyler Durden. Tyler talks to him about the loss of all his shiny stuff. But it was all just stuff. It wasn’t who he was. Things you own end up owning you, as Tyler puts it.
Tyler, like Jesus in his time, was attacking the consumerism, greed-centered culture of the main character. He might not have said it as colorfully, but Jesus was definitely calling on people to drop everything to follow him.
This reminds me of the story of The Rich Man in the book of Mark.
Mark 10:21-22 says:
Looking at the [rich] man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
Jesus, like Tyler, was trying to break the illusion that our things were in our possession. Clearly, this rich man’s possessions owned him, and not the other way around. They owned him to such a great extent that he was saddened that he wouldn’t get into heaven because of them – because he couldn’t bear to part with them!
Like the narrator, the rich man was mourning his things as if they had given him value. But we are not called to place our value in the things of this world. Our value comes from God alone! In placing our values in things of this world, we become trapped doing things we hate to satisfy desires that will never be satisfied.
Part Two “Modern Emptiness and Filling the void”
Single serving butter. Single serving coffee. Single serving friends. The narrator in fight club is describing his modern life in terms of the experiences he has on his air commuting for work. Everything is single use, disposable fodder to keep the journey going. It illustrates completely the modern emptiness that the narrator is feeling, and the emptiness that we are feeling as well. Everyone is disconnected. We make a friend on the airplane for an hour, then never think of them again. We make no connections that last. Everything is disposable.
But the narrator is so empty inside that he is searching for a connection. In many ways, it is like the emptiness we feel. And we try to fill this emptiness with things that never truly satisfy. A relationship with God is the only thing that will ever truly give us the closure and fulfillment we crave.
At the beginning of the film, the narrator is filling the void in his life with things, and when they are destroyed, he decides to fill the void with Tyler. What you find in the film is that Tyler is a split personality of the narrator. So, in essence, the narrator was so starved for true relational connection that he had to create it in himself! We are starving for connection. We are looking for things, people that can fill a void, but that will never truly fill us.
Part Three “Building a Movement”
Through his adventures with Tyler, the narrator comes to find true connection with other people (although it takes a while for him to understand this).
When we make social connections through a common vision, we are building a movement. Christ could have done things on his own. He was that powerful. But he decided to invest all of his energy into his disciples, and they in turn invested in their disciples. And on and on it went, until this point in time where over one billion people subscribe to tenants of Christianity around the entire earth! From 12 people to 1 Billion! Through connection to each other – courageous connection – we tie ourselves together and to God.
The church of ACTs was all about connecting. Apostles stayed in people’s homes as they traveled. They ate together. They met in secret together. They were persecuted for their beliefs, together.
In Acts 2:42-47 it states:
42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.
43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity[j]— 47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.
When we courageously connect, just as the disciples did and just as the men in Fight Club do (in their own way), we bind ourselves to each other in a way that cannot be destroyed, regardless of how hard the world wants to fight back.
The movement of Christ is strong precisely because of these connections between his followers. This feeling of belonging and fellowship is what drives people, even now, to lay down their lives to die in a common hope for eternity.
My hope is that you would see this film now through this lens. The building blocks of a movement. In these respects – the portrayal of modern emptiness, the growth of a movement, the admonishment of consumerism – the film has given me a space to look at my own life and see how I have failed to wake from the slumber the enemy has created through our culture. But our culture is not just what the enemy designs. We have just as much a role to play in what we allow to take root.
We can look at culture, regardless of source, and see it in divine terms and allow it to spiritually move us closer to each other and to God.