Fading From the Family Portrait
From Andrew Root in Christianity Today July 2012
Two years ago was the 25th anniversary of one of the most epic movies of all time. Every American not in a coma or an Amish community has seen Steven Spielberg’s Back to the Future, and if they haven’t, they can easily catch it on television, as TBS and TNT seem to rerun it every few hours.
The last time I caught a rerun of the 1985 science-fiction adventure, instead of switching the channel, I lingered and watched. I realized that the 25th anniversary was significant because Doc (Christopher Lloyd) had planned to travel 25 years into the future—to 2010—before those pesky Libyan plutonium dealers opened fire in the mall parking lot, sending Marty (Michael J. Fox) speeding off in the DeLorean back to the year 1955.
Once he arrives in 1955, Marty has to make his way “back to the future,” and must avoid any contact with any person to avoid irrevocably altering the future in a single encounter. But it just so happens that Marty has already befriended his dad and, oddly, has become his mom’s crush.
When Marty explains this to Doc, he asks to see the 1985 family photo Marty carries with him. Examining it, Doc points out that Marty’s oldest brother is already disappearing from the photo. Now that Marty’s mother has a crush on Marty and not on George (his father), his brother is being erased from existence. Marty must do all he can to make sure his parents fall in love in 1955 so that he might not disappear from 1985.
A Frightening Analogy
I had seen these scenes dozens of times before they solidified as a frightening analogy for my own family’s story. Just months before my own wedding, I sat with my mom in the living room of the home I had grown up in, as she explained that divorce was the next exit on the highway of our family’s history. It had been several weeks since she had told me that her and my father’s marriage was in serious trouble. Now, she told me more: They had gotten married way too young, noting that if she could do it all over again, she would have chosen another route for her life, someone other than my father to share life with.