I have never really been a fan of James Cameron’s The Abyss (1989), but as someone who grew up yearning to watch Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (on at the same time evening worship started on Sundays) and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Disney’s World of Color, same time, different channel), I had high hopes when I went to see it.
Not sure anyone emerged from the chilly theater as a fan, but the movie had moments. Most James Cameron flicks do.
The one that resonated with me (to the best of my recollection)?
Trapped in a deep undersea sub-structure rapidly filling with icy water, oil rigman Virgil and estranged wife Lindsey are trying to come up with a plan to get both of them over to an airtight compartment back on the rig hundreds of yards away. He still loves her passionately; she has shown only cold contempt for him. He is wearing a wet suit; she is not. And the minisub is a wrecked piece of junk:
Lindsey: Please, listen! Just listen to me for one second. Now you’ve got the suit on, and you’re a much better swimmer than I am, right?
Virgil: [reluctantly] Yeah, maybe…
Lindsey: Right? Yes! So I’ve got a plan.
Virgil: What’s the plan?
Lindsey: I drown, and you tow me back to the rig.
Virgil: No. No!
Lindsey: Yes! This water…
Lindsey: …is only a couple degrees above freezing! I g-go into deep hypothermia, my blood’ll go like ice water, right? My body systems will slow down, they won’t stop…
Lindsey: You tow me back and I can, I can be revived after, maybe ten or fifteen minutes. Ten-fifteen minutes!
Virgil: [pushing the suit collar at her] Linds, you put this on, you put it on!
Lindsey: [pushing the collar back at him] No, it’s the only way! Just put this on! Put this on, you know I’m right. Please, it’s the only way, you’ve got all the s-stuff on the rig to do this! Put this on, Bud, please…
Virgil: [putting the collar back on] This is insane.
Lindsey: Oh my God, I know. But it’s the only way.
Maybe it’s not the only way; after all, I didn’t get to see all of those scientifically-stoked hours of Voyage and Leagues. Maybe it’s just a few hokey moments of pretty good melodrama in an otherwise immemorable movie.
But the scene resonsates with me because I have always wondered how the conversation in heaven took place where The Plan was formulated. You know: The Plan.
We can theorize and argue all we want to about atonement theories, but when we intellectualize the subject, we fail to to address and experience the raw emotion of The Plan.
The Father will have to abandon His beloved Son in ultimate anguish. The Son will have to suffer in indescribable physical pain. And die, trusting the Father who has turned His back on the sin borne by the Son. And the Son must stay dead for three days. And then be resurrected, to a whole new and different kind of body, apparently.
Somehow, among all the nice, systematic, logical theories we can muster, The Plan turns out to be the only way.
It is the only way we can be revived from asphyxiation while drowning in icy sin.