I only saw one or two episodes of the TV series. I had actually, you know, read the book: Stephen King’s Under the Dome.
It’s a crazy story about an impenetrable semi-sphere that appears in the sky and surrounds a New England town–the bubble (funny typing moment: spell check turned my initial attempt at “bubble” to “Buble” as in singer of songs–my spell check is likely on some controlled substance) is quickly labelled “The Dome.”
As the Dome materializes, it carves cattle in half (giving new meaning to the phrase, “thinly sliced roast beef”); planes abruptly disintegrate in the sky as the air is filled with a blood-and-body-parts kind of rain. Birds splat and slide to the ground. Trucks experience full-powered disintegration as they encounter the Dome at speed.
Then, as the Dome completes its formation, the people inside realize they are trapped. They hammer and they pound but they cannot get out.
Outside the Dome, emergency crews bring explosive might to bear as they attempt to bust in. They can’t and they don’t–not for lack of trying, but for lack of ability to break into this completely closed system.
Interested in the end? Read the book…binge watch the series…ask someone…Google away…I am not a spoiler…you have need no of an alert about me (at least not for this)…
I was at a family celebration recently. The celebration was both well-deserved and well-attended. And…most of the people attending were Christians (in the they’ve-told-me-so-and-I’m-taking-their-word-for-it kind of way). I attended for two reasons: (1) I genuinely appreciated those being celebrated (they are loveable and huggable and kind and laden with been-around-a-long-time wisdom) and (2) their life achievement was a rarity in our day. I also sort of (actually kind of had to) attend by virtue of my connection with those being celebrated.
In the military we used to call that kind of attendance requirement, “mandatory fun.” In this case, the sweet nature of those being celebrated genuinely made seeing them fun–even if it was semi-mandatory.
But, since I wasn’t part of the family group that comprised this celebration, I was able to (read: had to) stand to the side. From my vantage point, I got to see an extended family system at work. It was the sort of observational opportunity that generates salivation (not “salvation”–read that again) by and amongst family systems theorists.
Now, these family members seemed to enjoy each other very much; they seemed to extend genuine welcome and affection toward each other. There were lots of smiles and hugs and pats on the back and bantering remarks tossed about. The “How have you beens?” flavored the conversation in don’t-spare-the-hot-sauce fashion.
But one thing was very, very, very (yes, three verys) clear from the outset: this was a tightly closed system. The Dome had nothing on this group. I don’t think the folks inside were concerned about getting out. But those on the outside could not get in…at all…in any way…for any reason…(again) at all.
Because, not only was this system tightly closed, those inside seemed oblivious to the presence of those outside…maybe it wasn’t actual obliviousness…maybe it was obliviousness’s informed cousin: indifference.
Like yellow-billed oxpeckers riding the backs of indifferent rhinos, the outsiders were barely noticed by the insiders. The outsiders’ presence was tolerated but they were not taken in.
Another non-family system member, also consigned to outlier land, leaned toward me and said, “Now I know what a church visitor feels like.” I sighed internally (in my position you must master the internal sigh) and thought, “He’s absolutely, heartbreakingly, incontrovertibly, right.”
We need to do something about the reality of “insider” versus “outsider”–we need to realize that, except for God’s grace through Christ, we are all “outsiders” and we’d best cast our loving embrace toward all the outsiders who come our way.
“I was a stranger and you did not invite me in” (Matthew 25:43).
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