Sunday, March 7, 2010

Movie Night and a Lesson About Personal Disasters

Okay . . . it is Oscar night . . . so it is a good time to talk about movies. I think I was about to talk about movies even before I realized that the Academy Awards were tonight.

We live in a wonderfully-unique island. I think it was Money Magazine that picked our island as the number one place in America for the healthy, active retirees to move to. Besides being surrounded by water, we have own mountain covered in miles and miles of trails, rock climbing cliffs and etc. We also have at least 5 major lakes filled with fish.

So we attract some interesting people . . . many who’ve made a fortune on Wall Street or Hollywood. One of the Hollywood types (spent years in the business) is leading a movie night at the public library. Denise and I decided to go Friday night. Once we were there, and I realized which movie it was (the Holiday) I was a bit disappointed. I recognized the movie from its trailers that I saw the year it came out. I had the impression that it was a poorly-written chick flick. After all, Jack Black was in it.

However, the man leading the night started telling “behind the scenes” stories about the actors (whom he had worked with for years) and the actually movie. My interest was stirred up.

I have to say, that I did enjoy the movie. I came away with the notion that Kate Winsiet is not just a pretty face but a tremendous actor. I was starting to get that ideal in Revolutionary Road but was confirmed in this movie.

I’ve never been a fan of Cameron Diaz and I guess I’m still not and I’m not sure why. I came away more convinced that Jack Black is a very limited actor. Once he gets out of his character (as in School of Rock) he is simply not very good. The last main actor, Jude Law, will also be to me, the robotic gigolo from AI with music coming form his head and some mechanical apparatus that drove women wild.

But the point that I took away from this movie was certainly subtle. I don’t if any of the million who saw it came away with the same thought.

In the movie, the charter played by Law was a widower. He made the comment that he was very emotional and could cry at the drop of a hat. He didn’t connect these dots, but I had the feeling he could cry so easily because of the disaster of loosing his wife (and the mother of his two little girls).

Cameron, on the other hand, told the story that she couldn’t cry no matter how hard she tried. And she did try, like when she found out that her live-in boyfriend had been causally boinking his 25 year old receptionist. But the Cameron character did make the connection between the unexpected divorce of her parents (and she was an only child) to her inability to cry.

This is where my mind began to wonder about how personal disasters influence us. I used to be like the Cameron character (I don’t know why) but I could not cry. I did not cry at my father’s funeral and I loved him very much. But after I went through a series of two personal disasters, I now cry very easily. I feel pain very deeply . . . where there is pain to feel.

I can remember a young girl, a patient, came into see me because she was acutely depressed. She told me her story. Her and her high-school sweetheart both came to Michigan Tech (where I was providing care in the student health clinic). They had gotten engaged the year before and she was very much in love with him.

She worked at the campus cafeteria. One night she had to go to work, leaving her fiancée and her roommate (also her best friend) playing a board game in her dorm room. When she got to work, she learned that the banquet that she was suppose to set up for had been cancelled. So went back to her room, opened the door and found her sweetheart and her roommate/best friend naked in bed together. Both of them tried to convince her that it was causal sex because they were bored . . . but that was a silly response. She was devastated of course.

As she told me the story, in tears, suddenly I began to sob uncontrollably. She must have thought I was nuts. But I do hope she knew that I cared.

But I’ve meet many people in life who have gone through personal disasters There are some who visit here (this blog) who have known far more pain that I have. Many people come out of these situations more stoic (Cameron character) and rocks. Many of us, however, are broken to the point that we will never be put back together again (like Humpty Dumpty). Maybe spending the rest of our lives broken . . . is a good thing.

I will be back to proof read this so I’m sorry about the typos but I have to run.


Anonymous said...

Question on this- because I am going through some very painful things right now.
As christians- are we supposed to spend our lives broken? Where does Jesus fit in if we are broken all our lives?

Trying to figure all this out for myself, hope you don't mind the question.

Justin said...


I know you asked this of MJ, but I thought I'd give you my perspective, maybe it might help.

I have been a Christian for 37 years. I can safely say that I am now, after all this time, more broken and beaten now that I ever have been. Christianity was not the cure-all for my ills.

Not that I think it ever was meant to be. My belief in who Jesus is and what his purpose is to humanity has wholly changed over time. I have to admit I'm not completely sure about it, anymore. I used to be... no more.

Jesus fits in, in my limited understanding, as a window into who and what God is. If you've seen me, you've seen the Father. What we are supposed to do with that, again, I don't know. How does his death and resurrection change everything/anything, again, no final answers.

But, I do know that in my broken existence I can look at Jesus and see a God who understands, who wasn't too holy to participate in humanity and our struggles, who isn't perched on high throwing rules down on us and crushing us with the requirement to be perfect... or even to improve.

Jesus fits in with the lesson he teaches... take one more step, he has been there, and gets it.

MJ said...

Justin, I like your answer. I would only add that in my humble opinion, the Fall is real and the consequences of sin are real and lasting. I believe that Jesus came to redeem us according to justification, therefore we are sinless in God's eyes now. I also think God is redeeming the entire world from the consequences of sin . . . but that work is not complete and will no be complete in our lifetime.

Therefore, when a young boy is sexually molested, or a woman is beat up by her husband . . . then he leaves her for another woman, or a man watches as his wife dies from a dreadful disease, those wounds are never healed (completely) in this lifetime. They can enter the process of healing. The pain can diminish over time but never go away. But take the man who was molested as a small boy . . . when he is old and in a nursing home, having loved Jesus his entire life, and he reflects on that molestation . . . I believe that he will still feel pain, real pain.

I think that we can forgive but that forgiveness is a process and never complete. The boy who was molested or the woman who was beaten, can try to forgive but they can never forget (and probably never completely forgive).

Sometimes we Evangelicals are taught to lie about our emotions, especially those who have been involved with the Prosperity Gospel point view. We are taught that forgiveness and healing are like magic pixie dust.

Anonymous said...

Anon, Justin, MJ --

There's a reason one of my favorite pieces of Eighties music is "Veteran of the Psychic Wars" by Blue Oyster Cult (lyrics on dropdown).

If you reach your 50s and can't sing along with BOC on this, you're living up around the 80th floor of MJ's building.

Headless Unicorn Guy

Anonymous said...

Therefore, when a young boy is sexually molested, or a woman is beat up by her husband . . . then he leaves her for another woman, or a man watches as his wife dies from a dreadful disease, those wounds are never healed (completely) in this lifetime. They can enter the process of healing. The pain can diminish over time but never go away.

MJ, you've read "Soliloquy to a Cobra in a White Dress". Those ARE my wounds. And they never healed. Not even after 25 years AA (After Ann).

Headless Unicorn Guy