Honestly, I struggle with people like me – middle-class male, graduate degree, well-versed in the language of evangelical ministry. It’s people like me who create the systems and ethos within the power structures of christian culture. More and more I walk into environments in which I feel a certain weight that characterizes the reality that is the matrix of male egotism.
A particular scene in the movie The Matrix powerfully illustrates this elitist paradigm: As Morpheus walks Neo through the realities of the matrix he leads him through a crowded street full of everyday businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters, etc. He explains that all of these individuals operate within a system that they become so deeply immersed in that they fail to recognize it as a distinct and toxic system.
Like the movie scene, the standard systems of Christian ministry belong to the first half of life male who seldom if ever pauses long enough to recognize this competitive world of posturing and performance.
Throughout history those looking up at us from the bottom have been women, the LGBTQ and black community, the sick and homeless among others. And while they have undoubtedly suffered through much loneliness and injustice perhaps they’ve also been afforded a gift of sight which the masses are unable to acknowledge.
“Let it be.” These are words of faith in their most distilled form.
The angel Gabriel comes to Mary and tells her that she will bear the savior of the world. Mary is understandably confused. She asks, “How can this be?” And then, after some consideration she says three very simple words that changed her life and the course of human history. “Let it be…” (Luke 1:38b)
The Beatles song, Let it be, was written in honor of this event.
“When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me. Speaking words of wisdom. Let it be, Let it be…”
As a rule, CTM is an active network that makes things happen. We come out of the prophetic tradition and are very much concerned with issues of social justice. Nobody has accused us of being overly contemplative. Perhaps that is why the words of Mother Mary are so challenging. She reminds us that transformation is not something that we can will or work into existence – ever. It is always a gift. At its most fundamental level, the transformative power of the Gospel is something we accept, receive, and let it happen.
The problem, of course, is that Mary’s words, like so many words in Scripture are easily distorted. In the mouths of the main-stream, “Let it be” can easily become a cover up for the status quo. Itcan easily mean, “We like the way things are, so let it be.” On the other hand, in the mouths of the marginalized, “Let it be” can easily become an utterance of despair, resignation and fatalism. It can easily mean, “We are tired and things will never change, so let it be.” Mary’s words (the Beatles too) resist both temptations. They offer us another way.
As I see it, the key to understanding Mary (and the Beatles) is in the word “it.” When she says, “Let it be,” the “it” that she is referring to is not the external conditions of the world she inhabits – a world enslaved by violence. The “it” that she is referring to is the goodness and grace of God’s favor on the world she inhabits, and the mystery by which that favor will be demonstrated in Christ. God’s favor is the “it” – the only “it” that we are called to accept and let be.
Check out this clip from the movie Across the Universe. It beautifully, if painfully highlights the tension in Mary’s words. The scene is set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War and the tumultuous 1960′s when the Beatle’s wrote their song. Hear it as a prayer – a prayer for God’s favor. Hear afresh the words of Mary this Christmas, as God’s favor in Christ draws near again, “Let it be.”
Serves as director of Center for Transforming Mission
Bumps into Reality by accident, most of the time
Heard God laugh once
The trailer for the documentary film Reparando shows quick-shot images of leaflets falling from the sky, crowds of people fleeing the police, tattoos on the back of a gang member in Guatemala City, arresting images of human remains on forensic examination tables, and the “Doll Lady” picking the arm of a baby doll from the garbage in a dump. Could there possibly be anything redemptive coming out of a film featuring that kind of imagery in a trailer?
After 2 ½ years of work, a vision that was birthed during a conversation with gang members in a Central America prison has come to life. On a visit to a gang unit with the chaplains we support in Guatemala City, Scott Moore was deeply moved by the stories of the young men he met that day. He describes it as being able to see stories in the eyes of the young men hiding behind the threatening war paint of their tattoos. He felt responsible to do something in response to what he had seen and the vision for a film (which now has the name “Reparando”) was birthed.
Weaving through the story line in Reparando are people and ministries who are a core part of the Estrategía de Transformación (EdT as the name given to CTM‘s work in Latin America) missional community in Guatemala City. Reparando seeks to lift some of these stories up and place them before the world as examples of God’s scandalous and magnificent grace leading to transformational outreach in some very hard places.
I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a premiere screening of the HBO film Walkout. As a Chicana, it was a wonderful experience to see my, our, history being told before my eyes.
The film was but a glimpse into what the Chicano Movement was about. I must say, I had an overwhelming sense of pride come over me as the lights dimmed and the movie began, especially since my daughter now is able to see a part of her history on the big screen. Now she knows even more that her future opportunities in life are in part due to the efforts and struggles of many people. I also had an opportunity to meet Monctesuma Esparza, the producer of this film, who happens to be the ONLY Chicano producer in Hollywood.
I want to invite all of you to watch this movie that premires this Saturday on HBO, and ask that you share it’s vision with others.
The Quote: “What is more difficult? Being a woman or being a man? It’s hard being a man, and it’s difficult being a woman. But the most difficult thing is trying not to forget who you really want to be?”
For me, this quote gets at the core of what is challenging for all us humans when we unavoidably measure each other’s gender differences. The difficulties for women and men are certainly different. Yet the heart of the matter for me is focusing on who it is as a person I am trying to become. Even more so, transcending gender altogether, who am I “wanting” to be in Christ?
What are your thoughts on this quote?
I love cinematography. Artistically speaking, films are always filled with so many obscurities and complexities. Many which serve to provide meaning, frame the story, and give the viewer an opportunity to experience the impact. I especially love foreign, independent, and documentary films. I’ve heard it said somewhere that “for people of faith, films are opportunities to engage with modern day parables.” Really?
For some time now I’ve wanted to do movie reviews. I’ve chosen “movie quotes” as my way to venture into this. I’ve noticed many profound quotes in so many films that are extremely powerful and thought-provoking. This is true both in and out of context.
I’ll be presenting these film reviews in two parts. First, I’ll share a quote, review it, and ask you to comment. Second, I’ll review the film. If you recognize the film from the quote, please comment without revealing the film. I’d like to keep the film a surprise until the review. The image with the first part will be a snippet from the actual film cover, so feel free to try to figure out the film.
I am no Siskel & Roeper, but if you know anything about me from this site, you know we’ll surely have some fun with this.
Last night I watched “Invisible Children.” It is a documentary that three young American guys made about the kids who live in Northern Uganda and in constant fear. They tell the story of the thousands of children that travel to the city every night to seek shelter and safety from the rebel army comprised mostly of other children. The children hide for fear of being abducted/kidnapped and forced to become child soldiers in this rebel army themselves.
The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) are the kidnappers. Their goal is to build power and of course eventually overthrow the government. They have found that the easiest way to build a strong army is to kidnap kids from age 5 to 10 and brainwash them. Many of the kids have lost their parents to AIDS, the Sudanese war, and various other attacks on their villages. The documentary is moving, disturbing, and just what I needed to see. Continue Reading…
Down in the west Texas town of El Paso, there is a school once known as Texas Western College but now called the University of Texas at El Paso. It probably isn’t really better known now than it was back in the day Don Haskins did the unthinkable and won the NCAA Basketball Championship using an all black lineup.
By the time I arrived at the school in the fall of 1982, Don Haskins was much older but still very much the soul of the basketball program. I remember basketball drew the most crowds even though the track team was outstanding as well. I went to as many home games as I could, often standing in long lines for tickets or having friends camp out in line overnight waiting for them to go on sale as the season came to a close and it was clear UTEP was going to the NCAA Tournament. Inside the Special Events Center, now the Don Haskins Center, there were pennants of all the victories over the years. There were many for NCAA Tournaments and NIT Tournaments but one hung alone, the NCAA Tournament Champs of 1966. I always wanted to know more about that story.
Well, last Friday I got to see the story behind that pennant hanging up all those years–through the movie Glory Road. As the story unfolded, and I saw such a nice looking actor play Don Haskins, I smiled. I must say, it would be an impossible job to find any actor who could capture the Don Haskins I saw at those games. His intensity as he rolled and swatted his hand with his programs, the hard scowls he gave his team, and the way he paced the floor and yelled at his team just cannot be matched.
Haskins was not called “The Bear” for nothing. I was amazed to find out it was his first year coaching when he got that title. I didn’t realize the courage it took for Don and the guys on the team to hang in there to get it. But I am grateful for them and all they did to prove, one more time, how truly talented and really glorious Blacks are.
Watching with my own children, ages 4 and 6, I got a new perspective as well. They couldn’t even understand why people would hate others so much. After all, they are “Czechs-Mex” kids (half Mexican and half Czech/European) who attend an inner city school and a black church. Many of their friends are black (although my daughter insists they are not black, they are brown). They still don’t know much about the history of racism or experienced much of it themselves. All they know is how other people treat them and whether or not they are fun to play with. I wish their world could stay that idyllic. But we all know, the problems faced many years ago, the constant “proof” of equality still has not done away with the problem of racism. It is not a problem of complexion but one of the heart. And that is even more difficult to change.
Glory Road is energetic and has a great story to tell. I recommend it for sports enthusiasts, historians, cultural anthropologists and people just seeking good entertainment.
Glory Road is rated PG for racial issues including violence and epithets, and mild language.