Rising from the boxes…Reading and The Reader

Having moved twice in the last six months, I think its safe to say that I don’t want to do it again anytime soon.  But we are in our new place and it has been great to get settled into a home that will be ours for the foreseeable future.  I have said this in a few other circles, but I cannot say thank you enough to the army of people who helped out in packing up the old house, painting and preparing the new one, moved boxes, cleaned houses, helped unpack, hang pictures, do some fix-up stuff at the new place.  I would list names here, but I am sure that I would forget someone.  But thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you!

Beyond the reality of how the move has taken over our lives the last several weeks, I have been interacting with some very thought provoking pieces recently.

First, I have started reading Rob Bell’s book Jesus Wants to Save Christians: A Manifesto for the Church in Exile.  I have read Bell’s two other books – Velvet Elvis and Sex God – and found them both to have some valuable thoughts about how we understand God and our faith lives today.  Bell’s new book continues the general theme that he raised in Velvet Elvis, namely that there are some significant pieces of our faith lives today that need some redefinition (at one extreme) to radical changes (at the other).  I’m only about 75 pages in, but it has been a very interesting read as he compares the state of the church today to the history of the “places” of the Israelitees – Egypt, Sinai, Jerusalem, and Babylon.  I’ll post a more thorough review after I get through the book in the next week or so.  One note about Bell’s writing…it is not “normal.”  Basically, he writes like he preaches – very conversationally.  So, there are fragmented sentences, 2-3 word paragraphs, and so forth.  Just be aware.

The other piece was a movie Amy and I watched last night.  We downloaded The Reader from Amazon last night after the kids went to bed, not really sure what we were going to be interacting with.  Before we go further, I do want to note that if you do watch the film, the first part of the film has a very strong sexual aspect that builds up what follows in the rest of the film.  It is necessary to what takes place in the film, but as with any film that I review, I want people to be aware of what is in there before they see it.  The film is an incredible movie to watch both in the performances of the actors – Kate Winslet very much deserved her academy award specifically – and the quality of the film making itself.  The movie pulled me in from the start and did not let up until the credits began to roll.

Reflecting upon the film, I won’t go into spoilers about the movie as there are some significant plot points that I don’t want to give away in this.  I will say that I was very surprised by the direction of the film and by the way the story plays itself out.  Its not a Sixth Sense type of twist, but the moves along the way are very surprising.

The pieces I was left with was the nature of secrecy in our lives and the nature of the pain we carry.  Again, without going into spoilers, these two themes thread their way through the whole film, secrecy in our past and the way that pain holds us and dictates so much of our lives when it is held away and held in secret.  There was also some questions for me about the nature of redemption and forgiveness in our lives.  Are there “unforgivable” sins either against people individually or sins against people in general?  If so, is there any kind of hope for ANY type of forgiveness?

Moving from the film to the general question this film raises…what place, if not the community of faith, do people have where they can be truly real with one another and move beyond their secret pains by allowing them into the open where they can be shared and people can move beyond.  Further, what do we as the faith community do with sins that we might think to be “unforgiveable”?  How can we move to a place of redemption while also dealing with the realities of justice and consequences?  The movie also did raise this issue through an ongoing discussion in a law seminar of the nature of law and morality.

All in all, an amazing and deeply provokative film.

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