So, this is what I believe, and it permeates a lot of my thinking. In a nutshell: life isn’t easy. I mean, it’s not clear, it’s confusing, and it’s hard, but that’s life. The same thing goes for Christianity and morality. I just don’t believe that Christianity is simple. That it can be broken down into clear and fast rules for everything. But it’s weird. On one hand, I don’t think Christianity is so confusing that only some people can believe – I think anyone can know what they need to know to be a follower of Christ. On the other hand, I think fully understanding the Christian faith and working out everything just can’t be achieved in this lifetime. I don’t think anyone can say clearly that they’ve gotten everything figured out. And to me, that’s just another example of how Christianity is true, because like life, it’s confusing.
This is the reason I like a lot of the movies I do. Like Pleasantville. Just, as I’ve written too many times before, the message of the movie is that you can’t keep life pleasant by willing away undesirable things. You can try, but you won’t succeed. Because real life isn’t like that. It’s not always pleasant. It’s confusing and hard. But it’s real. That’s life. I love that.
It’s also why I like the movie The Mission. I don’t know if you’ve seen this movie, but I highly highly recommend it. If only to hear the soundtrack by Ennio Morricone, perhaps the best movie soundtrack ever. I actually owned the soundtrack before seeing the movie.
Anyway, the story is about a Jesuit missionary in I think Brazil? I don’t know where, just, he goes into a remote jungle and reaches out to the native tribes there. There are so many aspects to this movie that I love. I love how he goes there, with just an oboe, on faith, trusting in the power of music and God that it can work. And how Robert De Niro’s character is redeemed. It’s just awesome.
Anyway, what happens is that there’s a political dispute over the land that the mission lies on, so they have to get rid of it. It’s been a while since I saw it, so the details are kind of hazy. But as I remember it, the country that’s giving it up goes to the mission, and they want to see that it’s a failure, so that it’s easy to give up. Instead, they find that it’s a huge success. They’re not “savages” at all – the mission has changed their lives. There’s a scene where the natives sing Ave Maria and it’s just so incredibly done. I love this movie.
Anyway, getting back to the point, I love the ending to this movie. Because Jeremy Irons and Robert De Niro both absolutely love the people, but they reach drastically different conclusions on what they should do. Irons believes they should be peaceful to the very end, even if that means giving everything up, maybe even all of their lives. But De Niro can’t see how it’s loving to not fight for all they’ve achieved, for the natives. They both love the natives and love God, but they reach totally different conclusions about what they need to do.
And I love that. Because, in the end, you can’t say either of them were clearly right or clearly wrong. It’s just not simple like that. And again, that’s how real life is. Great movie.
As I’ve written before, this also ties in with what Rich Mullins said to me. I talked to him once in my life, after a concert in Humble, TX asking him about the song Jacob and 2 Women, and he kind of chuckled and basically said, it’s just a song about Jacob and his life, and it’s kind of confusing, but then again so is life sometimes.
It was a casual comment but I’ve seriously meditated on it for countless hours. Just, I think his message is that the Bible is about the human condition, about real life. And there are a lot of confusing, weird stories in the Bible. And that’s not discouraging. Quite the contrary – it’s deeply encouraging, because real life is just like that – weird, confusing, and messy. That the Bible reflects this is great – it shows that it really is about the human condition, that it accurately reflects it, understands it, and presents a solution to it. It really affected how I view the Bible. Anyway, I think the Bible shows that real life is confusing and hard. It really is.
So, because of this, there’s two things I don’t like. One is the idea that there is a clear “Christian” answer or position on everything. I just don’t think it’s that easy. And this extends to a lot of different things. Just, this reduces Christianity to a set of rules, some of which are dubious. In my mind, a lot of issues aren’t that clear. I’m not really making sense with this but who cares.
The other thing I really dislike is the “slippery slope” argument. But uh, I’ll write about this next time.