Woody Allen And The Hopelessness of Life

 

Woody Allen

And The Hopelessness of Life

 

Many have heard of Woody Allen, the movie actor and producer.  Allen is now 74 years old and recently was interviewed about his latest movie.  He discussed his view of life.  What can we learn from his perspective?

“I do feel that it’s a grim, pitiful, nightmarish, meaningless experience,” Allen said. “The only way that you can be happy is if you tell yourself some lies and deceive yourself, and I’m not the first person to say this or the most articulate person on it. It was said by Nietzsche, it was said by Freud, it was said by Eugene O’Neill. One must have one’s delusions to live. You look at life too honestly and clearly, life does become unbearable, because it’s a pretty grim enterprise, you must admit.” (The article was titled, “Woody Allen: Getting Older a ‘Lousy Deal,’” cbsnews.com/stories/ 2010 /05/15/ entertainment/ 6486833.shtml.)

Allen answered a question about aging: “I find it a lousy deal. There’s no advantage in getting older. I’m 74 now. You don’t get smarter, you don’t get wiser, you don’t get more mellow, you don’t get more kindly. Nothing good happens. Your back hurts more. You get more indigestion. Your eyesight isn’t as good. You need a hearing aid. It’s a bad business getting older, and I would advise you not to do it.”   He was asked about death. Allen answered, “My relationship with death remains the same. I am very strongly against it.”

When we consider Woody Allen’s outlook on life, we immediately think of Solomon’s words in Ecclesiastes.  In this Biblical book, the King of Israel attempted to find happiness “under the sun,” or from a human and earthly perspective.  He tried materialism, entertainment, and other earthly pursuits.  Solomon wrote, “I set my mind to seek and explore by wisdom concerning all that has been done under heaven” (1:13). He then admitted, “I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind” (v. 14).  He said, “All things are wearisome; man is not able to tell it.  The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear filled with hearing” (1:8).  At the end of his happiness-seeking experiment, Solomon lamented, “I hated life, for the work which had been done under the sun was grievous to me; because everything is futility and striving after wind.  Thus I hated all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun, for I must leave it to the man who will come after me. . . . Therefore I completely despaired of all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun” (2:17, 18, 20).  Solomon hated life and found it futile.  Apart from God and His promises, this is the inevitable result.

What can we say about Allen’s view of life?  “I do feel that it’s a grim, pitiful, nightmarish, meaningless experience,” Allen said.  The Christian can have an entirely different view.  Through His death and resurrection, Jesus “abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10).  Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).  Paul wrote, “To me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).  How different the perspective that the Christian can have as compared to Allen’s gloomy and cynical view.

As Allen said above, “The only way that you can be happy is if you tell yourself some lies and deceive yourself, and I’m not the first person to say this or the most articulate person on it. It was said by Nietzsche, it was said by Freud, it was said by Eugene O’Neill. One must have one’s delusions to live. You look at life too honestly and clearly, life does become unbearable, because it’s a pretty grim enterprise, you must admit.” 

How grateful we should be that Jesus offers much more than this!  We need not deceive ourselves about life and death.  Death is an enemy—but it is an enemy that will be destroyed by Christ at His coming (1 Corinthians 15:26).  We can look at life and recognize that it is temporary, it is filled with the results of the Adamic fall, and “under the sun” it is filled with sorrows.  But, at the same time, we recognize that God has something far better and more wonderful planned for us!  Proverbs gives this hopeful statement: “The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day.  The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know over what they stumble” (4:18-19). Although the wicked are walking in darkness and stumble in the dark, the righteous are on the way of the bright dawn!

Significantly, Allen  referred to Nietzsche, the atheistic pessimistic philosopher.  He also referred to Freud, the atheistic pervert who did so much to influence false modern day psychological theories and practice.  It is not surprising that if we follow these deceived influencers, we will run into trouble and end up looking at life as a pessimistic ordeal.  Paul writes that “the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God” (1 Corinthians 1:19).  He adds, “The LORD knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are useless” (v. 20).  If we follow unbelieving writers and teachers, we will end up with our own minds messed up and confused.

As noted in the earlier quotation, Allen has a very negative and depressing view of getting older.  We must agree that old age can be debilitating and even sorrowful (cf. Ecclesiastes 12:1-8).  Yet, even with the poor health, bodily decline, decreased mental acumen, and other negatives, those who age can find deep satisfaction in their relationship with God.  The psalmist prayed, “Do not cast me off in the time of old age; do not forsake me when my strength fails” (Psalm 71:9).  He could depend on God’s presence and help—and so can we.  He continued, “Even, when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation” (v. 18).  He had a purpose in life and this purpose includes older age.  In another psalm, we read, “They will still yield fruit in old age” (92:14).  God Himself offers us His promise: “Even to your old age I will be the same, and even to your graying years I will bear you!” (Isaiah 46:4).  We need not have the negative view of life and aging that Allen has developed for there is a God!

Woody Allen is admired by millions for his talents and accomplishments.  But, sadly, this man of renown doesn’t know God or His Word.  God offers us precious promises that can carry us through life in victory and finally bring us to His eternal Kingdom.  Don’t fall into the same trap that Allen has accepted.  Find your fulfillment in God and He will bless you with His eternal presence!

Richard Hollerman

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