You’d hardly believe a drive-in theater sat on the corner I just drove by. Showtown, as it was called, is now engulfed in a jungle of ivy, its two screens nothing but green lumps. All that remains to the naked eye is a giant marquis you used to pass when entering.
I was there with my parents a handful of times, but the most notable (and last for me), was 1977, the year of Smokey and the Bandit. That night Showtown was packed to capacity, as Burt Reynolds played ‘the Bandit’ and drove his super cool Trans Am with cute Sally Field in attendance.
After the movie, the traffic out of the place was like nothing this small town boy had ever seen. Taillights looked like Christmas lights strung all the way across the O.K. Allen Bridge into neighboring Pineville.
While everyone was creeping along in that sluggish procession, a black Trans Am swept by us—and about one hundred other cars at once—in the passing lane. “He’s crazy!” my mother said. My dad shook his head. “Yeah. He saw the movie.”
And it was true. The driver had awakened to the potential of owning a black Trans Am and was obviously trying to copy the Bandit. We watched, horrified, as he raced up a hill in a no-passing zone, risking head-on collision with anything coming in the opposite direction.
The fool made it. I suppose every now and then you can do something you see in a movie without getting killed.
It occurred to me at the time, though, how susceptible we are to the things we watch, read, or hear. That’s the way we’re made. The Bible calls us “vessels” or, “containers,” (c.f. Rom. 9:20-21), and the direction of our outside world is to go…in. Literally everything around us wants in, wants to shape us, to change our attitudes and behavior–some things for the good, and the others, not.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2).