“Missing” is a story about the virtues and vices associated with information technology. It focuses on a mother and daughter who together participate in IT’s enslavements of them both. The mother uses IT to control her daughter and the daughter uses it to try escaping her mother’s enslavement—looking for cheap ways out like drugs and alcohol via online sources. At one online-arranged party the girl gets so drunk she throws up all over herself.
Then through a series of complicated circumstances, the girl’s mother is kidnapped, and suddenly this dumb adolescent needs to grow up and get smart about using technology’s virtues to help her find and save her mother.
There’s a scriptural element here, if you compare IT’s grip on us to Old Testament Egypt’s enslavement of Israel. Isaiah 19 acknowledges Egypt as the center of culture in the developing world, but as with 21st Century IT, slavery became the slave holder—a vice that caused stupidity. Like the daughter depicted in the movie who chose to make IT her master, Egypt fell into corruption. Isaiah writes:
“Utter fools are the princes of Zoan. The wisest of Pharaoh’s advisers give stupid counsel. … And they have made Egypt stagger in whatever she does, as a drunkard staggers in his vomit.”
Isaiah had a way with words.
So did the prophet Hosea, who quoted God lamenting the fact that His calls to Israel to free itself from Egypt’s slaveries were unheeded.
“When Israel was a child,I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. The more they were called, the more they went away; they kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning offerings to idols. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk; I took them up by their arms, but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of kindness.” (Hosea 11:1-4).
Matthew 2:15 applies that “calling out of Egypt” to another calling to freedom. It involves the Savior God sent us—the one who grew up in a Holy Family. An angel instructed that Savior’s father, Joseph, to help his family escape the treachery of King Herod by taking his wife Mary and their child Jesus to Egypt. As Matthew tells us, “they stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, ‘Out of Egypt I called my son.’”
That son was destined to save humanity from the world’s slaveries by giving us the wisdom to save ourselves. That’s a salvation that depends on the wise use of our free will.
That’s just what the mother and daughter in “Missing” had to learn. To save her mother, the daughter had to learn how to abandon the stupid vices by which IT enslaved her and apply its virtues smartly and wisely. In the end, that required both of them to free their eyes from the slavery of their computer screens, look at each other in the eyes, and rediscover the love God sent humanity to set us free.