Groundhog Day. A critique of American culture.

Groundhog Day. A critique of American culture.

Written by O. Palmer Robertson |
Thursday, February 8, 2024

What’s wrong with this perspective on human life? People everywhere in America agree that a bad attitude in life brings bad results. But the biblical perspective strikes deeper into the fallen nature of humanity. Bad attitude embodies sin – sin against God the Creator, and Christ the Redeemer. The movie also communicates the idea that doing good things with a good attitude will bring good results. But no example by a fallen human being has the power to transform even one person to have a purified heart. Nothing short of the miraculous, creative work of God’s Holy Spirit has the capacity to change the nature of a single soul. 

A marathon. All day long, every two and a half hours. The same old movie about Groundhog Day, which is celebrated in the USA every February 2. If the groundhog comes out of his hole and sees his shadow, this greatest of all prognosticators will have predicted six more weeks of winter.

If a major television network can run the same movie for over 12 hours straight, the message of this movie must capture the heartbeat of a major portion the American people. But what is the message? What is it in this movie that defines a heartbeat of American culture today?

The formula is very simple. Have a negative attitude toward all of life, and everything will go bad for you. Change your attitude and your actions to a positive perspective on all of life, and you will be a person filled with happiness and joy. You will live “happily ever after.”

A simple formula. Everyone can understand it immediately. Change your attitude and your accompanying actions, and you can have a happy, happy life.

So how does the formula play out? Despise your work, despise people, despise even God’s little creatures like a groundhog, and you will be miserable. Bill Murray, the lead actor, has been cast perfectly for this role. While looking miserable, he ignores a poor old street beggar. He scorns an old high school friend. He rudely turns down a nice lady’s offer of the best coffee she can produce. He mocks a small-town community’s joyful celebration.

But these bad attitudes foster grosser actions. He deceives an unsuspecting young woman by lying about their previous fictitious high school years together. He lures her into sexual immorality. He schemes and commits a bank robbery. He steals an automobile and leads small town police through a life-threatening high-speed chase.

In terms of openly and convincingly demonstrating that “out of the heart proceed the issues of life,” the movie does an excellent job. Bad attitude invariably leads to immoral conduct. Unintentionally the truth comes out. A bad heart leads to a miserable life. It even gets so bad that the main character makes many efforts to take his own life. He drives an automobile over a cliff, with the car landing upside down and bursting into a consuming ball of fire. He steps directly into the path of a moving truck. He leaps from the top of the highest building in town. He electrocutes himself in the bathtub. But he cannot succeed in destroying his life. Every morning he wakes up again on February 2nd.

Inadvertently the truth comes out once more, though in distorted form. Question 19 from the child’s catechism simply but profoundly asks: “Do you have a soul as well as a body?” Answer: “Yes, I have a soul that can never die.” You cannot kill your soul, no matter how hard you try.

The second half of the movie tells a different tale. What is this tale?

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