I have my concerns about this series (you can read about that here), but I am hopeful the movies will make some adjustments that will make a positive difference. The verdict is still out, but in the first movie, I did see quite a few opportunities for some deep, meaningful, challenging discussions. Love the series, hate the series, it brings some very difficult issues (and some positive examples) to the surface, ripe for discussion.
How far is too far in the name of science? What’s more important, the one or the many?
The Gladers (kids in the maze) find out that they have been the subjects of scientific experiment. The sun has scorched the earth, horrific disease has wiped out much of the planet, and the few who are immune to the disease are being studied (even sacrificed) in the hopes of finding a cure…for the good of the planet, of course. This may be fiction, but the issues are real.
- How far is too far in the name of science?
- What’s more important, the one or the many?
How do you maintain order? What is reasonable punishment?
The Gladers have 3 rules, one of which is never hurt another glader. Ben attacked Thomas. He’d been stung and the infection was driving him crazy, but it was also making him remember things from his past. One of the things he remembered was Thomas, and that Thomas was somehow a part of putting them in the glade. The other Gladers stopped Ben from killing Thomas, and then punished him for his attack. They punished him by forcing him out into the maze at night—a certain death sentence. These boys pushed this terrified, screaming, pleading former friend of theirs out to his death. It’s a really hard scene, a hard choice, and it reminds us of many such choices people have to make in the world today, in the classroom, the home, the workplace, but especially in the political and military realms.
- How did you feel about Ben’s exile/punishment/death sentence? Was it appropriate? Was there another way? Was it necessary?
- How do you know if punishment is appropriate to the crime?
- How far should a governing body go to protect its subjects?
- Is the death sentence morally wrong, or is it acceptable in some situations? If so, what situations?
- Do you think the Bible has anything to say about this issue? How might principles and/or stories and examples in the Bible give us some insight into how God feels about this?
Looking after the “least”
Thomas who was quickly becoming the leader of the Gladers, befriended Chuck who was just about the lowest and the least among the Gladers. He was young, overweight, unathletic…he was the least likely to survive and the least likely to be a real contributor to the group’s needs. Nonetheless, Thomas and he became friends. Thomas was always taking care of Chuck, as if he was his big brother. And, perhaps because of Thomas’ example, several of the other Gladers also took a special interest in Chuck, protecting him, caring for him, loving him. Thomas and those Gladers treated Chuck very much the way Paul instructs the Corinthians to treat each other:
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. I Corinthians 12:21-26
- How did you feel about Thomas and the Gladers and the way they treated Chuck?
- If you were in their shoes, how do you think you would feel about someone like Chuck, who wasn’t able to “help” much, versus someone like Thomas?
- In your life, who are you more drawn to, the Chucks or the Thomas’ in the world?
- Who do you treat with special honor?
- What do you think Chuck brought to the group (or added to it)?
- Jesus says that whatever you do to the least of these, you do it to Him—how do you think He would have felt about the way Thomas cared for Chuck? How do you think He would feel about the way you care for the “least” in your world?
- Who are the “least” in your world?
- What can you do for the “least” around you?
- How does it make you feel when you hear that Jesus came to love the least, the lost and the lonely, and not just the strong, the able, the cool and the “best”?
The past doesn’t matter
Thomas discovered that he and Teresa had actually been a part of creating the maze and putting the boys in it. He had been watching the experiments… a participator in the death and torment of the boys in the maze. He was horrified. He also felt that his past disqualified him from being a part of the Gladers and their future. Newt disagreed. He told Thomas, “It doesn’t matter—because they people we were before the maze don’t even exist anymore. What does matter… [is who we are now]. Thomas wasn’t the same person he had been. He was now a Glader. He had lived with them, suffered with them, grown to love them. Whatever he may have thought, done or been in the past, he now saw things like a Glader.
Paul had a similar story. He had hunted and killed Christians. But that was before. Now he was a Christian. He lived with them, suffered with them, grew to love them and more importantly, He loved Christ. Whatever he may have thought, done or been in the past, he was a new creation now…a Christian, and he saw things from Jesus’ point of view.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3: 12-14
- Have you ever had a past that haunted you? One that you felt disqualified you in some way?
- Newt said Thomas’ past didn’t matter. What had changed? How did he know Thomas was one of them?
- How do you think the Christians must have felt about having Paul, their former murderer, in their midst?
- Have you ever been in Newt’s position, having to decide if someone has changed, if their past is still who they are or if it shouldn’t be held against them? What did you do?
Where is your home?
Chuck didn’t remember having parents, but he knew he had to have had them. They had to be out there, somewhere, and he was anxious to find them. A family, love, parents, a world that was better than the Maze…Chuck knew it was out there…many of the Gladers sensed that it was out there.
Gally didn’t want to leave the Maze. Bad as it was, he felt that it was his home, and he tried to convince the Gladers to stay with him and make it home, too. “I belong to the Maze. We all do.” He argued. Thomas disagreed. “We don’t belong here.” He pleaded with them. “This place isn’t our home. We were put here, trapped here…but we can make it home. I know that.” He didn’t want them to settle for the Glade—they were made for more.d
Our lives aren’t that different, in this respect. We are being pulled in two directions. The enemy urges us to believe that this is our home, that this is as good as it gets. The Bible disagrees. It says that, “This world is not our home; we are looking forward to our city in heaven, which is yet to come” (Hebrews 13:14). Heaven…we may not remember it, or know what it’s like exactly, but we know it’s better. And somehow we’ve sensed all along that something in this world of ours is wrong; it’s broken. We sense that death, suffering, disaster, evil…these things aren’t right; they aren’t supposed to be a part of our lives. Somehow, we feel deep down that a Heaven exists, if only we can figure out how to get there.
- The Gladers didn’t remember anything but the Maze—how did they know there was more to life?
- Do you sense that there is more to your life than this? Do you have a feeling deep down that Heaven is real?
- Do you ever pulled between two voices, one telling you to make the most of life here because it’s all you’ve got, the best you can expect, and another which says there’s more and better, so set your heart and mind on what’s above…get out of the Maze you’re in…find Heaven?
A few other miscellaneous questions for discussion
- Is wicked ever good? How does it make you feel to hear someone say wicked is good? What do you think about the verse in the Bible that says, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter” (Is 5:20)? How would you apply it to this movie?
- Do you think the movie is indicative of a general distrust of authority? Of Science?
- Do you think the Maze trials were invented from a pure motive? Can a person (or group of people) do bad things from pure motives?
- How do you think the Gladers felt knowing that people who could rescue them were watching the whole time…and letting people suffer and die when they could have stopped it?
- Do you think Ava Paige was evil for not intervening?
- Do you think God is like Ava Paige—watching, able to intervene, but choosing not to? Do you think he’s cruel and/or uncaring?
- Is it possible for God to both love us deeply and yet allow bad things to happen to us?
Click here to read a discussion/review of the entire Maze Runner book series.
Click here to read a collection of quotes from the Maze Runner movie.