I have always been puzzled as to why two people can witness the same seemingly divine manifestations and one walk away changed forever while the other remains completely un-phased. The miracles of Jesus are one example, but there are so many more, including this classic scene from The Princess Bride.
I you haven’t seen seen the movie, then put this blog aside and go watch it. Better yet watch it for your next FHE because it’s that good! If you have seen it then you can refresh your memory of this scene here, or just read the script below.
Miracle Max: Hoo hoo hoo! Look who knows so much, heh? Well, it just so happens that your friend here is only mostly dead. There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Please, open his mouth. Puts the bellows to Westley’s mouth, and blows air in. Now, mostly dead is slightly alive. Now, all dead… well, with all dead, there’s usually only one thing that you can do.
Miracle Max: Go through his clothes and look for loose change. Removes the bellows. Hey! Hello in there! Hey! What’s so important? What you got here that’s worth living for? Pushes on Westley’s abdomen.
Westley: t-r-u-e l-o-v-e.
Inigo: “True Love”, you heard him? You could not ask for a more noble cause than that.
Miracle Max: Sonny, True Love is the greatest thing in the world, except for a nice MLT— mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, when the mutton is nice and lean, and the tomato is ripe. Makes puckering sound. They’re so perky. I love that. But that’s not what he said— he distinctly said “To blave” and as we all know, to blave means to bluff, heh? So you were probably playing cards, and he cheated–
A little old lady storms into the room.
Valerie: Liar! Liar! Lia—-r!
Miracle Max: Get back, witch!
Valerie: I’m not a witch, I’m your wife, but after what you just said, I’m not even sure I want to be that anymore.
Miracle Max: You never had it so good.
Valerie: True Love, he said “True Love”, Max.
Though Westley was mostly dead,* true love gave him a noble cause to live on. Everyone heard him say it and were amazed and inspired–except Miracle Max. Why?
You could argue he just needed a hearing aid (Rob Reiner had Billy Crystal made-up to look older than Methuselah in this scene). More likely, this scene is teaching us about not hearing something because you don’t want to hear it. Jesus Christ had plenty to say about this as well:
And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive
For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.
For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them. (Matthew 13:14-17)
What Max heard, speaks mostly about Max. He accuses Westley of bluffing. Yet in response to hearing something that, deep down inside, he knows is truly remarkable, his personal response is to blave. He pretends he doesn’t hear it and explains it away until he hears something more to his liking (which in this case is revenge).
Our world is perpetually listening intently for things we want to hear–things that will inspire and lift us and make us better.** Though much of it is good, even more is just distraction and filler, and far less transformative than it pretends to be. Yet so often we blave when hearing the words that are legitimate game-changers, like the words of eternal life. Let’s not forget that those who watched and heard the miracles of Jesus were there because they were searching as well. Sadly, what they heard wasn’t what they wanted to hear. It’s worth keeping in mind as we get ready to “listen” to General Conference in 2 weeks.
* Mark 9:26** [Insert here your favorite distraction: sports, social media, the blogosphere, TED talks, The Great Courses lectures, Netflix or your carefully planned DVR recordings]