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The Journey: Spiritual themes in movies

Posted by Rev. Daniel Christian on

                     All summer I have been asking my wife Michelle if she would come with me to see the movie “Dunkirk.” Well finally when the temperature was 109 degrees, our house has no air conditioning we made it, along with every other person in the county.

Movies cut a window into our culture and our lives. Throughout cinema history stories told on film have the ability to lift the human condition when we are confronted with the depth of love, shame, regret, or pride.

Stories captured on celluloid have the power to open us up in new ways and reveal human beings at our best and worst. We finally just started watching season one of Game of Thrones. In short, a lot of human beings at their worst!

What I enjoy about the war genre is that it asks deep questions to our character. Who am I when it is my time to look into the face of evil? Am I capable of risking something big for something or someone good? Will I stand for something or fall for anything? In the face of failure will I have the courage to seek redemption?

I am reminded of redemption in the book of Ruth. Will God redeem our lives when we have been broken and left all alone? At one interpretive level, Ruth is about human failure when it comes to honoring one’s responsibilities. Ruth is also about the healing of a family after their lifeline is threatened. If we look a little deeper, we see God, “the redeemer,” who reverses the course of a family’s life, and restores them to new life. A life they did not imagine; a life that makes them whole again.

When people struggle; when it appears that disease, war, loneliness, addiction, joblessness will rule the day. When the weight of the world appears to have won. When the joke, “The light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off,” appears to be true, Ruth shows us that the “Light” is powered by the grace of God.

The book of Ruth is about family promises that have been broken. The broken promise now leaves the women Ruth and Naomi fragile and vulnerable. From this shattered and betrayed time in their life they venture out into a wilderness to the ancestors of Naomi. The wilderness is where we are called many times in our lives.

The physical landscape of the wilderness is not the only wilderness where God leads you. You can be lead out into an emotional, mental and spiritual wildernesses.

In the wilderness we must leave who, what and where we know that is safe or the very least familiar. You set out with the hope and a prayer that God will reveal where, when and how you are needed. To enter into the wilderness is a risk. Uncertainty is high. Fear…real.

God is at work in gentle ways in our lives. When our fear is redeemed to courage. When loneliness is redeemed to love. When rejection is redeemed to acceptance. When our half lived life is redeemed with meaning and purpose, it is the redeeming hand of God at work.

Along with “Dunkirk”, I have been trying to get both my wife and daughter to come with me to see “Wonder Woman” on the big screen. No Luck. I may just have to venture out into the matinee wilderness by myself, or even better, wait for the three of us to watch at home. That sounds good too.

Rev. Daniel Christian is the Pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Ukiah

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