The latest issue of Critique magazine includes a review and discussion questions for the movie Hotel Rwanda, starring Don Cheadle. You can also read it online here.Critique movie reviews and discussion questions are a great resource if you are a person that is trying to be a discerning thinker about issues of faith and culture.
The following question from Critique about Hotel Rwanda appears to be a fruitful one: "Discuss Paul Rusesabagina's heroism. How was it manifested? How does it compare to the "Super-heroism" of films like Superman, Batman, or Spiderman? How does it compare to Christian notions of heroism?" The review contains many additional thought-provoking questions.
I feel a bit hypocritical, however, recommending you read this review and consider the discussion questions it contains because I haven't yet seen Hotel Rwanda myself. What's more, given a choice a couple weeks ago between this and another movie, I chose to see The Interpreter starring Sean Pean and Nicole Kidman. I feel a self-inflicted stab of conviction even as I write this. I felt the same stab as I read a recent post about the movie on Jed Anderson's blog, the inner ring, as well. Therefore, I will pledge to find a theatre in which it is still playing, or rent it if is already out on video/DVD, and see it without undue delay.
I’ve been thinking more about the St. John’s Bible that I saw yesterday (see previous post) and the seven-year process of its production. Well to be more accurate, I’ve been thinking about this in contrast to the rush by many of us to pump out blog posts, articles, emails, journal entries--on and on the words keep flowing.
The scribes working on the Bible are spending years of their collective lives copying words that were already written long ago. They are not vying for a byline or filing for a copyright. Yet few would argue that they haven’t been given an extravagant privilege in the doing of this work. They are giving their time and their craft to perhaps the only words that really matter.
The book of Ecclesiastes says, “Of making many books there is no end...”
What would happen if we stopped pumping out so many words, even for a 24-hour period, and instead paused to reflect on and live with the words that have already been written?
This weekend I attended two performances of "The Crucible," Arthur Miller's play set in 1692 about the Salem witch hunts and trials. It was the senior drama at my son's high school and he played the part of one of the judges. The entire cast did a phenomenal job and the standing ovation they received at the end was earned and not just a display of familial affection from adoring parents and grandparents.
The late Arthur Miller (who died this past February) also deserves a posthumous standing ovation for his writing of this play. I know he wrote it in the 1950's as a response to the national hysteria about commmunists in our midst, but this was a fact I completely forgot in the watching of it. The themes the play explored and the questions it raised were universal and not limited to that slice of history. Every five minutes the audience could have used a "pause" just to absorb the weight of what was happening on the stage.
What is integrity?
What is goodness?
Who can judge?
On what basis can something be judged?
How can lies and confusion be navigated?
How is truth determined?
What does it cost to forgive?
What does it cost to withhold forgiveness?
When is mercy the most just course of action?
What events are put into play when self-preservation becomes one's primary concern?
How and when does a person decide to take a stand for what is right?
How does evil become socially sanctioned?
When is truth more valuable than life?
These are just some of the questions triggered by the play that a member of the audience could roll around in his or her mind for quite some time.
For more information on "The Crucible," I refer you to a piece printed in the October 21, 1996 issue of The New Yorker: "Why I Wrote the Crucible" by Arthur Miller. If you can, attend a live production of it or rent a copy of the movie made in 1996 and starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Joan Allen, and Winona Ryder. If you rent the movie, take advantage of your DVD or VCR's "pause" button to think and absorb at frequent intervals.
How would Stephen Covey respond to this?: "After sanctification it is difficult to state what your aim in life is..." So wrote Oswald Chambers in yesterday's (November 10) reading in My Utmost for His Highest. He continued, "If you seek great things for yourself--God has called me for this and that; you are putting a barrier to God's use of you. As long as you have a personal interest in your own character, or any set ambition, you cannot get through into identification with God's interests. You can only get there by losing for ever any idea of yourself and by letting God take you right out into His purpose for the world..."
Which brings me back to my initial question, how would Stephen Covey (Seven Habits of Highly Effective People) respond to Chambers' words? Or Laurie Beth Jones (The Path)? Both are celebrated gurus of the fairly specific personal mission statement.... I'm also wondering where the balance is between using a realistic assessment of oneself and one's abilities and interests as a marker for future direction and being completely neutral and open to any of 360° of directional changes at any particular moment according to as the Spirit leads?.....What do you think? Any reactions to Chambers' words or my wonderings?