Ethos Education

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: What is family?

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Assembly Objective:

  • Families are weird and complicated things. Have we ever stopped to ask exactly what a family is, or what it is for? Have we ever wondered what makes families different from friends? This assembly explores the Bible’s teaching on why what makes families a little bit difficult, might also be the thing that makes them something to be excited about.

Film:

  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (Marvel Studios, 2017, 12A) Click here to buy the DVD online.

Bible:

Supporting Values Education:

  • The value of mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs suggests that there is a genuine benefit to spending time with those people with whom we might naturally disagree, or whose opinions, ideas and ways of life we might not like. This assembly encourages students to reflect on the idea that experiencing these ‘clashes’ of beliefs and preferences may have a profoundly positive impact on us as individuals, and the communities and societies we are a part of.

OPENING ACTIVITY

Why Should We Even Defend the Idea of Family? (something to do and something to think about)

Download the Why should we even defend the idea of family? PowerPoint for this activity.

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • Show the students three different visual representations of a family (one very formal, one sickly-sweet, one chaotic). Ask the students to think about which image they think most closely represents the ‘ideal family’ for them and why. Ask one-two students to feed back (aim for different responses).
    • Pose the question of whether the students think a ‘perfect family’ is a possible achievement? If it is, what characteristics might it have?
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • Introduce G. K. Chesterton as a Catholic author, philosopher and journalist who was writing in the early 20th Century. Explain to them that one of his more famous ‘essays’ (short pieces of witty, non-fictional writing) was on the issue of the family. In this essay he argued that while friendship groups and cliques and other social groups we choose might have their benefits, we actually might get our most meaningful experiences of other people when we don’t get to choose them. What could he mean? What could be a benefit of interacting with people you don’t get to choose? (Ask for hands, if time.)
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • Chesterton argues that often in life we feel like ‘real experiences’ have to be out of the ordinary. Adults go on ‘gap years’ or go traveling to far-away places to experience true humanity. Young people might search for companionship with others online, or with those particularly different, unique, ‘edgy’ types. Chesterton says that actually this might be a bit of myth, that actually we’ve got far more in common with our next door neighbour, or that nice lady that works at the Co-op; or that person you sit next to in Maths. He says that if you really get to know those who happen to be around you, you can learn more about yourself and everyone else than if you always pick your companions.
    • Why might this be? Chesterton thinks it is because, when you always choose your friends – you have chosen them for a reason, and this reason usually is that there is a, or several bits of them you agree with, or think are similar to you. So, you focus on these bits – you reveal the compatible bits of yourself. Which is nice, he says, but what about all the other bits? When you just get thrown in the mix with someone random – you don’t know what bits there are to start with, and so things come up without control or choice. Suddenly you start to see things in yourself and others that you might not even have known were there.
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • Chesterton uses the example of being snowed into your street in a blizzard (or, think of all the world-ending disaster films where people get thrown together…). Both these examples of having to get to know, or survive with, random humans seem to suggest that these fatefully made moments might provide a meaningfulness and a closeness with others we can’t get anywhere else….

FILM CLIP

  • There are two clips to played from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (Marvel Studios, 2017, 12A) during the talk.
  • Clip One:
    • Start time: 00:03:01
    • End time: 00:05:51
    • Clip length: 2 minutes and 50 seconds
  • The clip begins with the Guardians of the Galaxy bickering as they decide how best to complete their mission. As they argue, a huge monster falls out of the sky and they must unite to defeat it. In the meantime, baby Groot sets up the sound system and dances around the ensuing anarchy completely oblivious. Guardian members are seen shouting at Groot to stay out of danger and keep safe.
  • Clip Two:
    • Start time: 01:26:07
    • End time: 01:28: 20
    • Clip length: 2 minutes and 13 seconds
  • The clip begins with Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) father, Ego (Kurt Russell) showing him his grand plan for the universe – to completely overthrow and control it with his own divine power. This way, everything will be just like him and he won’t be alone. The scene switches to the other Guardians, who having realised the danger they are in, are deciding what to do. Gamora (Zoe Saldana) says that they must save Peter, as he is their friend. Her sister Nebula (Karen Gillan), scoffs at the idea saying all they do is yell at each other. Drax (Dave Bautista) responds by saying ‘we’re not friends, we’re family.’

TALK

Download the What can the Guardians of the Galaxy teach us about friendship and family? PowerPoint for use with this talk.

Scripted Talk

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • As we know, family is messy and difficult and sometimes just plain annoying. But is there something unique and special about these chaotic relationships? Just because they’re hard sometimes, does this make them necessarily bad?
    • What even is a family? Does it simply mean people you are legally or biologically connected to, or does it have a broader, deeper meaning? If this is true, what is the difference between family and friends?
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • The film Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 deals with the same questions. James Gunn, the director of the film, when asked to sum up the film’s meaning in one word, used exactly the one we are discussing: family.
    • In this film, we see a rag-tag group of misfits, who were (reluctantly) brought together in the first Guardians film, try to figure out what it means to be a family together. Each guardian has in common a distinct lack of family – Quill’s mother died when he was young, Gamora was kidnapped as a child, Drax has lost his entire family, and Rocket was engineered in a lab without parents. However, they have found family with each other. What can we learn about the idea of family from this example? What has family to do with the ideas we have looked at so far?
    • One suggestion is that family is the best example we get of this ‘randomness’. We don’t choose our family, after all. It is chosen for us, by fate, God, nature – depending on what you believe. Family is like the every-day version of being snowed in during a blizzard: we are totally stuck with them – all the time!
    • The story is not too different in the first Guardians of the Galaxy film, where the characters were left with no choice but to unite (originally to escape from prison and make some money, eventually to save their own lives from complete destruction). In the second film (the one we are about to look at) we see how these characters adapt to their new lives as an unlikely family. Unsurprisingly, things are not easy-peasy and plain-sailing.
    • Watch the following clip. As you watch, think about the kind of family the Guardians of the Galaxy are. Think about words you might use to describe them. Are they the perfect family? Why/why not?
    • Play Clip 1 from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (Marvel Studios, 2017, 12A)
      • Start time: 00:03:01
      • End time: 00:05:51
      • Clip length: 2 minutes and 50 seconds
    • The clip begins with the Guardians of the Galaxy bickering as they decide how best to complete their mission. As they argue, a huge monster falls out of the sky and they must unite to defeat it. In the meantime, baby Groot sets up the sound system and dances around the ensuing anarchy completely oblivious. Guardian members are seen shouting at Groot to stay out of danger and keep safe.
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • In this clip the Guardians family, while unusual in a lot of ways, does somewhat resemble a family we might recognise – a combination of bickering and care. Note how they argue with each other, but show genuine care for baby Groot. There is something endearing about this mix: they are unafraid to be honest with each other and ’be themselves’ (which, let’s be honest, often translates as ’not hiding your awful side’). They have no reason to hide anything from one another.
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • The film continues and we get introduced to new characters. One of which claims to be Peter’s long-lost (and super-powerful) father. Peter, in a desire to be reunited to his biological family travels to his father’s planet. It is soon revealed that his father isn’t quite the benevolent figure Peter had first imagined. Peter is torn between gratifying the wishes of his father, and trusting the warnings of his adopted family.
    • Watch the following clip. Think about how un-family-like Peter’s father sounds. Compare this to what is very much family-like about the rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
    • Play Clip 2 from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (Marvel Studios, 2017, 12A)
      • Start time: 01:26:07
      • End time: 01:28: 20
      • Clip length: 2 minutes and 13 seconds
    • The clip begins with Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) father, Ego (Kurt Russell) showing him his grand plan for the universe – to completely overthrow and control it with his own divine power. This way, everything will be just like him and he won’t be alone. The scene switches to the other Guardians, who having realised the danger they are in, are deciding what to do. Gamora (Zoe Saldana) says that they must save Peter, as he is their friend. Her sister Nebula (Karen Gillan), scoffs at the idea saying all they do is yell at each other. Drax (Dave Bautista) responds by saying ’we’re not friends, we’re family.’
  • [PowerPoint slide 5]
    • In this clip we see Ego’s vision of family starkly contrasted with the Guardian’s vision. Ego thinks the key to having purpose, and feeling alone is to make everything like yourself. His plan is the absolute extreme of only having friends like yourself – making literally everything in the universe …you. On the other hand, the Guardians, while aggressively diverse, and often in conflict, decide that it is not being the same that is valuable, but choosing to care for one another against all odds. Nebula points out – they aren’t friends! All they do is fight! Drax responds by agreeing – you’re right, we do fight and disagree, but even through the fighting we care for one another. That is what makes us family. Family, the film seems to imply, is getting through the fighting, and disagreement, and dislike – when you see a person for who they really are, and decide they are still worth caring about, because, in the end, they aren’t any more flawed and dislikeable than you or I.
  • [PowerPoint slide 6]
    • Funnily enough, this depiction of family is very common in the Bible. You might think of families in the Bible as being morally perfect and lovely, but actually the opposite is true. You’d be hard pressed to find one example of a morally perfect family in the Bible. All the famous characters that you might have heard about – Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah, Jacob, Joseph – all of the stories about them and their families paint a surprisingly dark and stressful picture.
    • Take Noah for example: gets drunk and passes out naked in front of his kids. He is so embarrassed when he wakes up that he actually curses one of them. Joseph is sold into slavery by his brothers because they are jealous that he is clearly their dad’s favourite child. Jacob makes his brother Esau sell in his family inheritance for a bowl of stew, then their mum tricks her husband into thinking Esau is Jacob so that he blesses the latter (her favourite son) instead. The list could go on and on.
  • [PowerPoint slide 7]
    • The question here is: why is family portrayed as so messy and broken – full of jealousy, violence, arguments and deceit? One answer is that this is just the way things are! Who can imagine a perfect family? The other is that in the Old Testament stories, some of the most amazing things come from these families overcoming their brokenness together.
    • Take Joseph – his journey into Egypt as a slave means that he ends up saving all of Egypt, including his own family in the process. Together they experience compassion, forgiveness and true reconciliation.
    • Another answer is found in the words of Jesus himself. In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus talks to a group of local listeners about neighbours and enemies. He makes the point that it is very easy for people to walk about, quite pleased with themselves because they think they are a nice person for being nice to their friends. Jesus remarks that obviously that is easy, being nice to people you like. What is impressive, is when you are kind and caring towards those you find irritating, or idiotic. And why should we do this? Earlier on in this same talk, in the famously named Sermon on the Mount, Jesus paints a picture of a truly upside-down world, where the poor, and shy, and bullied, and sad are ’blessed’. Jesus argues that a world where these types of people are valued, starts with individual people deciding to understand and care for people we otherwise might overlook, gossip about or be mean to. Family then, according to the Bible, is a bit like a perfect training arena for this. If you can really love your irritating little brother or sister – then what other astounding acts of kindness are you going to be able to achieve?

Headings and Bullets

Download the What can the Guardians of the Galaxy teach us about friendship and family? PowerPoint for use with this talk.

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • What is a family?
    • What is the difference between family and friends?
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • Guardians of the Galaxy 2 deals with the question of family.
    • The characters are thrown together against their will and must work together.
    • Introduce film clip.
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • The Guardians resemble a family in certain ways.
    • They are not afraid to be themselves.
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • The Guardians travel to Ego’s planet and see he is not all he seems.
    • Introduce film clip.
  • [PowerPoint slide 5]
    • Two contrasting visions of family: one completely controlled, the other compassion in chaos.
  • [PowerPoint slide 6]
    • Broken families depicted in the Bible.
    • Explain the stories of famous Old Testament families.
  • [PowerPoint slide 7]
    • Jesus teaches we should love those who irritate us.
    • If we can love our annoying siblings – what else can we achieve?

Photo Copyright for Why should we even defend the idea of family? PowerPoint: Slide 1 parents and baby Pixabay.com, formal picture Public domain, waterfight Pixabay.com / Slide 2 G. K. Chesterton, Slide 3 hiker Pexels.com, children iStockphoto.com / Slide 4 Freeimages.com

Photo Copyright for What can the Guardians of the Galaxy teach us about friendship and family? PowerPoint: Slide 1 Disney/Marvel / Slide 2 Drax and beast Disney/Marvel, baby Groot Disney/Marvel, Gamora Disney/Marvel / Slide 3 Disney/Marvel / Slide 4 Disney/Marvel / Slide 5 Peter and Ego Disney/Marvel,  Drax Disney/MarvelSlide 6 Joseph (image 9) FreeBibleimages.org, Noah Public domain, Esau Public domain / Slide 7 (image 13) FreeBibleimages.org


RESPOND

Prayer

  • Dear God, thank you that you love me even though I am not perfect. Help me not to be so irritated by the imperfections in others and find the courage to still care for them. Help me to find the courage to actively understand and care for those who I otherwise might overlook, or disregard.

Reflection

  • Next time you find yourself irritated by that person, instead of reacting like you normally might, try and find the energy to react in kindness and see what happens. Think about someone who you think is boring, or so unlike you, that you could never be friends. Think about whether it’s worth striking up a conversation with them to see if you have any common ground as fellow humans. Who knows! You could be missing out on an exciting friendship!

YOU WILL NEED:

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