Friday, January 11, 2013


I went to see it today. While fresh on my mind I will post my strong and encouraged reaction. If you have not seen it I am not trying to give it away but obviously you will know more than if you read no reviews. ... It makes a strong moral emotional impact. I missed many words in the songs but think I caught the story pretty well. Such movies leave me convinced they are, even if  unintended,  attempts to make the basic Christ story far more relevant and applicable today than typical 'evangelical' and much orthodox interpretations are doing.  If only people could seriously consider that such public collective art and story can truly be a most needed 'word of God' in our culture. Some movies are quite worthless but some could have strong redeeming and  spiritually guiding effects on our time of spiritual wondering as a nation and world.  I rank this movie as one in this category. All the themes are here... the perils of human love, grace, law,evil, good, mercy,  forgiveness of others and self forgiveness.  Very absent, and I am grateful, are any typical orthodox  images of the idea of sacrificial and blood  atonement... where someone has  to sacrifice in order to appease God's  wrathful sense of justice. Yes sacrifice is very needed and appropriate as love's response to life  and to create justice(in the human community... not of God's holiness demanding anyone's moral perfection.) I was moved deeply. I think both main  male characters were too much impressed with the final authority  of any  legal or moral law. One of them , because of devotion to formal civil and religious law, was never able to extend mercy or receive it for  himself. In the end he turned such devotion to law even against himself(This certainly showed his sincere conviction but also how spiritually  misguided  he was all along.) This character  had acts of mercy and unconditioned love  extended to him but he was never able to make it  become fully  conscious that this is  the actual and true nature of God. He seemed rather to see it as  just some weak man who  ignorantly gave it to him to their own destruction. So he is shown as never learning  the most central lessons of spirituality.

The other was taught by the injustices of life to hate and mistrust life and others but then, due to a direct uninvited experience of grace from an official of religion, he had a transformation. He then was able naturally, not by self determination, to act with grace and love toward others along his convoluted  path. So he experienced both receiving and giving love and grace throughout  his life. But his learning was still not complete for he felt that  law breaking and failed character in his early years were a part of his life story that  he should shield his adopted and dearly loved daughter from. He made arrangements for her to never know of his actual  shadow. This showed, I think,  that he did not yet realize that his moral failures were just as much necessary and as important part of the story of his spiritual  life development  as those actions of love and grace that he selflessly  performed. 

My heart sunk when it seemed that the daughter was not going to be given the full 'truth' of her step father's  spiritual journey. In the end she did find him and was able to learn the full truth from him. This gave her a chance to learn of how  grace and love had transformed her Dad's life and it gave her father his last lesson... which is that anyone who loved him was delighted  to forgive him and  to thereby even more appreciate the good qualities of his life. And certainly  the greatest lesson of all  is that he was invited to forgive and fully receive himself , as he had done for others, including the lost and shadow side of his early life. These are to me the central elements needing stressed in the Christ story in our day. Personally I do not think such movies  catch the eye of the nation simply by chance. We can learn much from them. Good to remember this novel was written in 1830, quite ahead of its time as a  real life parallel to a spiritual  interpretation of the gospels'  story of  Jesus.

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