Jon Stolpe Stretched

What's S-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g me now?

Up In The Air – Depressing, Unresolved, Unfulfilled, Why Did I See This Movie?

Last night, I took advantage of a great opportunity to have a date with my wife, my sister-in-law, and my brother-in-law.  Thanks to a broken heating system at the movie theater earlier in the day (when the girls went out to see The Princess and The Frog), we had free movie passes.  Of all the movies we could have seen, we chose Up In The Air starring George Clooney.  The movie had received four stars compared to two and a half stars for Did You Hear About The Morgans? which probably would have been my first choice – until I heard the “star ratings” for each movie.

In Up In The Air, George Clooney plays Ryan Bingham, a traveling businessman, who has the responsibility of laying off or firing employees at companies around the country.  He lives out of a carry-on suitcase, and he rarely makes it home to his undecorated one bedroom studio apartment in Omaha, Nebraska.  During his travels for work, he also speaks publicly about reducing everything in your life to what can be carried in a single backpack.  While at first this simplification sounds quite tempting, the reality is that Clooney’s character throws away not only every worldly possession but also most every relationship in order to live out his philosophy on life.  In fact is one goal in life is to earn Ten Million Frequent Flyer Miles with American Airlines.  Sad!

The movie is especially sad, because I’m guessing it actually hits closer to home for many Americans than we’d like to admit.  We live in closed communities where we hardly every see our neighbors.  Our business relationships are mostly impersonal.  And even our relationships at church and in our own families are artificial and superficial as we run from one activity to another – all so that we can say “we did it!”  Where is the intimacy?  Where is the transparency?  Where is the depth in our interactions and in our relationships?

So many of us seem to run away from deep relationships.  Perhaps it’s because we’re afraid of being exposed.  Maybe we don’t want people to know the real me.  I for one, do not want to live an unfulfilled, unresolved, depressing, “up in the air” life.  I want to go deeper.  I want to be fulfilled.  I want to be uplifted and encouraged.  I want resolution.

So where do we find it?  How do we go after this?  I think it takes initiative.  I think it takes faith.  I think it takes trust.  I think it takes getting out of your/my comfort zone.  One way that I have found this over and over again is by seeking out relationships through small groups of people.  This winter I’ll be starting up two new groups.  The first with my wife is a parenting group based on a curriculum by Kevin Leman.  The second group is an experimental on-line group that will center discussion around Mark Batterson’s new book, Primal: A Quest For The Lost Soul of Christianity.  If you are interested in one (or both) of these two groups let me know?

If you have an idea or a comment about how you find depth and fulfillment in your life and in your relationships, I’d love to hear them.

Until then, I’ll be working on living a “down to earth” life.


December 30, 2009 - Posted by | life, movies, small groups


  1. I’m definitely interested in the online group. Let me know what is involved and how soon you’ll be starting.

    Good review on the movie – I don’t think I was going to see it anyway. ‘The Blind Side’ was very inspirational!

    Comment by Craig Allen | December 30, 2009 | Reply

  2. Hey Jon, You should do Movie Reviews! Right now I’m identifying with what you wrote about the movie you saw last night. I had just spoken to one of our newer members on the phone. His wife hadn’t been in church on Sunday, and I had been thinking about her. I also had been proded by an e-mail that had been sent today. But in making the contact, I felt a bit awkward. I spoke with her husband and felt uncomfortable about our conversation. I really like them and I pray for a good relationship and that we might minister to their needs, etc. I’m feeling a bit sad now.

    May the Lord be with you and Leanne as you lead this new small group and also the on line group, Jon. Love you all, Mom

    Comment by Mom Stolpe | December 30, 2009 | Reply

  3. You and Leanne should check out the article in the January 2010 Christianity Today “The Myth of the Perfect Parent.” I really resonated with it in light of all the parenting education I’ve done for the last 40 years.


    Comment by Norman Stolpe | January 1, 2010 | Reply

    • I’ll have to check out the article. I for one know that we aren’t even close to being perfect parents.

      Comment by jonstolpe | January 2, 2010 | Reply

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