From time to time I will write articles here to discuss movies that promote Christian ideals in one way or another. These movies are worth watching not only because they are well made, but also because they are worth our careful consideration in light of truths from Scripture.
I suppose James Stewart is on many lists of top film actors, and No Highway in the Sky (1951) bears out that assessment. Here is quintessential Stewart as bookish, unsociable, and absent-minded aeronautical engineer Theodore Honey, who has predicted that nuclear fission will cause the tail to fall off of the new “Reindeer” line of commercial aircraft after 1,400 flight hours. Before he can finish the long laboratory test to verify his prediction, Honey takes a business trip cross country. While in the air, Honey learns he is on a Reindeer airliner with just over 1,400 flying hours on it. When the flight crew won’t listen to his impassioned explanations about why the tail of the plane will fall, Honey tries to save the day.
Two women on board the Reindeer become important: Marlene Dietrich is Monica Teasdale, a movie star, and Glynnis Johns is stewardess Marjorie Corder. In the process of helping Honey cope with the situation, they make him realize something we already know from having seen the beginning of the movie: he has dealt with widowhood by burying himself in his work and neglecting his 12-year-old daughter. Will the scientist live to see his daughter again and make amends? Will Honey’s work be vindicated, or will he be held up to the ridicule of his entire profession and perhaps the scorn of the nation?
You’ll find the answers to these questions when you watch the movie, and you’ll also be reminded of some important biblical principles:
- Study facilitates confidence. Honey refuses to be intimidated or influenced by those who claim to know better about aeronautics than he does. This is not because he thinks himself more intelligent or wiser, but simply because he has run the figures for himself—he has studied the evidence supporting his position and there is no reason to doubt the truth of it. How many times have Christians lost their faith because they simply have not studied the Bible (and the external evidence supporting it) for themselves? Remember Ezra 7:10, Acts 17:10-11, and 1 Timothy 2:15.
- A person must follow his conscience. Honey follows his conscience, even if it means putting his career and his reputation on the line. Once we decide what the right action is, we must do our best to take it. We may learn later that we possessed an incomplete understanding of the facts and thus regret our actions, but we must never violate our conscience. The apostle Paul had believed that he was doing the right thing by persecuting the church, but because he never violated his conscience, he obeyed the Gospel when it was presented to him (see Acts 23:1; cf. Acts 9:1-19). True, conscience might allow us to do the wrong thing while believing it to be right, but if we become accustomed to doing what we believe to be wrong, we have gone over to the devil’s side (1 Timothy 1:19; 1 Timothy 4:1-5).
- Children will not rear themselves in the Lord. Honey’s daughter is at a crisis in life and he doesn’t even know it. Many important things in life, including good works, may keep parents from taking care of their obligation to lead their children to the Lord (Proverbs 22:6; Mark 10:13-16; Ephesians 6:4; 2 Timothy 1:5; Titus 2:4-5).