Having wanted to see the film CItizen Kane for ages, I finally got round to watching it just the other day. If you've never heard of it see here for a plot summary. Many buffs reckon it to be one of the best films ever made.
Though everyone goes on about the cinematography (which was apparently very innovative), I was most intrigued by the character of Kane himself (a hugely rich business magnate). Kane's character seemed to me a stark portrait of modern identity. We only ever get disconnected snippets of him from acquaintances. So, we're never really sure who he is or what motivates him. And, actually, neither are the characters closest to him really sure of who he is. He is a man who has everything and, yet, he lacks a substantial self. He contradicts himself, is unfaithful and is never really satisfied - in spite of having potentially loving people around him and amazing wealth. He can only ever accept people on his terms. The huge and fabulous estate he builds himself at the end is lonely, empty and dark - in a sense a portrayal of Kane himself. He ultimately rejects every person that gets close to him, remaining unable to properly give or love. And so he dies at the end alone in his huge and empty estate, surrounded by fabulous wealth and artefacts from all around the world. He is known nationally in the film, and his death makes the news, and yet he also remains fundamentally unknown, perhaps unknowable, throughout.
It made me think of several things.
It made me think of how we can never really know people or be known if we demand that people relate on our terms. The world does not revolve around my needs and wants. I may feel my demands are legitimate but I can never really have successful relationships if I demand that others fit in with my needs. Community means I must 'die'.
It also made me think of how we are known by the One who really matters. So often we speak of knowing God, but isn't the deeper truth the fact that we are known by Him (e.g. 1 Cor 13:12)? Aren't we known as sons by our Father? Our emptiness is not filled by us clawing our way up to Him but by Him 'moving into our empty estate' - "we will come to him and make our home with him (Jn 14:23). That will give me a connected self. I find myself not by building an empire but by being known by Him.