Living Redemptively In the Culture

Last night Sara and I went to see Hotel Rwanda and were absolutely stunned by the power of the performances and the tragedy of the story it unfolds. As a million people were being killed in a tribal genocide the West stood by impotently ignoring the death and devastation. We didn’t care enough about the value of African lives to intervene and stop the carnage. This is the story of one man who put his life on the line when he did not have to and saved the lives of nearly 1300 people who would otherwise would have been raped and slaughtered.

I saw that movie this week in the climate of a number of Christian commentators condemning another Oscar-nominated movie, Million Dollar Baby for a plot twist they say sanctions an act that they are hotly debating in our culture. I won’t give the movie away, but just because a movie depicts a horrible act, does not necessarily validate that act. I found this movie to be a masterpiece, with characters you come to care deeply about and the plot twist only underlies the tragedy of a life uncentered in the reality of a Living God. This is a gut-wrenching movie that captures the desperation of the human drama without a deeper reason for living than one’s own personal happiness.

What bothers me is that so-called Christian commentators take up more air time blasting Million Dollar Baby instead of championing the redemptive theme and courage of the hotel manager in Hotel Rwanad. Perhaps that is because they don’t understand it. Both are compelling stories with some incredible lessons. They certainly are not escapist entertainment, but thought-provoking films that will trouble your emotions. I came away from both of them more resolved to live my life deeper in Jesus and let him make it available to folks got in the despair of their own loneliness or the violence of someone else’s anger.

So why do commentators have to make a target of one of them and ignore the other? Follow the money. They know that more people will attend Million Dollar Baby for all their complaining, the same way some Jewish groups did last year for The Passion of the Christ. But they also know that the media will crave their ranting and it will bring them increased personal exposure and more money in their fund-raising efforts. It’s a despicable game being played for the destruction of our cultural fabric.

It is often said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” But what good men do is to risk their lives in the face of evil as the lead in Hotel Rwanda not to use controversy to build their own following on Fox News and line their own pockets from an angry constituency. The challenge for us all is how we stand up to the evil that surrounds us each day—that which foments the anger in our culture instead of healing it, and that which dehumanizes others by its own self-indulgence.

I want to live squarely in the fullness of Jesus’ life today, doing whatever he asks of me to be a redemptive influence in my culture. If you need encouragement to do that, go and see Hotel Rwanda. It will humble you while it makes your spirit soar!

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8 Comments
  1. maryann February 6, 2005 at 11:51 am

    i have seen this mentioned on different blogs..

    is it a current movie at theaters?

    is it relatively NEW? (our little town can sometimes get things weeks later than most)

    sounds like a great movie to mess our paradigms…and get us thinking again as a family, small group, etc.

  2. maryann February 6, 2005 at 2:51 pm

    i have seen this mentioned on different blogs..

    is it a current movie at theaters?

    is it relatively NEW? (our little town can sometimes get things weeks later than most)

    sounds like a great movie to mess our paradigms…and get us thinking again as a family, small group, etc.

  3. maryann February 7, 2005 at 8:43 am

    NEVER MIND….saw the movie trailer thing…its only at the "big cities" now…it will get here (by summer) eventually.

  4. Wayne Jacobsen February 7, 2005 at 9:21 am

    I’m sorry these are not available in your area yet, Mary Ann, but I would still venture that the benefits of living outside the ‘big cities’ outweigh these small frustrations a zillion to one! I’d wait for a movie if I lived in a sleepy town on a quiet street!

  5. maryann February 7, 2005 at 11:43 am

    NEVER MIND….saw the movie trailer thing…its only at the "big cities" now…it will get here (by summer) eventually.

  6. Wayne Jacobsen February 7, 2005 at 12:21 pm

    I’m sorry these are not available in your area yet, Mary Ann, but I would still venture that the benefits of living outside the ‘big cities’ outweigh these small frustrations a zillion to one! I’d wait for a movie if I lived in a sleepy town on a quiet street!

  7. J February 7, 2005 at 9:31 pm

    I was thinking about what you said about Christian commentators picking and choosing what they pay attention to and comment on and I am not shocked. We all do it don’t we? I was just thinking about the article from Christianity Today and realized that I did the exact same thing. Instead of focussing on the truth in his article, I focussed on some comments that I disagreed with him about. As a matter of fact, I only responded to his negative comments.

    I think that many of us see the glass half empty. Jesus wasn’t a pesimist. As a matter of fact, he was as optimistic as you can get. He saw promise and hope in the most unlikely places and also in the most unlikely people, and yet he definitely did not have his head in the sand. He was still a realist. I pray that I will see more of the positive in people and things in general.

  8. J February 8, 2005 at 12:31 am

    I was thinking about what you said about Christian commentators picking and choosing what they pay attention to and comment on and I am not shocked. We all do it don’t we? I was just thinking about the article from Christianity Today and realized that I did the exact same thing. Instead of focussing on the truth in his article, I focussed on some comments that I disagreed with him about. As a matter of fact, I only responded to his negative comments.

    I think that many of us see the glass half empty. Jesus wasn’t a pesimist. As a matter of fact, he was as optimistic as you can get. He saw promise and hope in the most unlikely places and also in the most unlikely people, and yet he definitely did not have his head in the sand. He was still a realist. I pray that I will see more of the positive in people and things in general.

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