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About a year ago, my wife and I watched the movie The Greatest Showman and loved it. Musicals aren’t usually my thing, but I thought this was really well done—it was subtle, meaningful, compelling, and entertaining all at once. One of the movie’s themes I chewed on for months following is idolatry, and one scene in particular stood out.
By the middle of the film, P.T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman) has established his empire through his circus. He has wealth, acclaim, and power, yet we see that even now, he’s not content. There’s something missing. He’s been gazing upon—and striving after—the desires of his heart; he’s achieved all of his success expecting that he would find satisfaction in his achievements, yet he hasn’t found the satisfaction and rest he was expecting his success and status to provide.
Song - Never - Enough - Loren - Allred
During the song Never Enough (performed by Loren Allred), that we see Barnum most enraptured by his idol. We watch him gaze upon everything he’s ever dreamed of—beauty, world-renown fame, ever-abounding wealth—and he’s transfixed by it. He’s captivated by the experience of his deepest wants on full display before him and his gaze is locked upon it, so much so that he can’t hear the irony of the lyrics declaring that the life he’s lusting after simply serves to mask the aroma of death that the life is producing.
As the camera focuses in on Barnum watching the performance, we hear the words he’s missing: “All the shine of a thousand spotlights/All the stars we steal from the nightsky/Will never be enough.” We understand that no matter how many eyes look to him in adoration, no matter how my times he does what his impoverished upbringing says he shouldn’t have been able to, it won’t be enough to fill the void he feels. He either doesn’t hear...
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