Redeem the Days

I’m convinced that every year a hole is ripped straight through the space-time continuum during the week before Spring Break. This week never ends. Students are wound up; teachers are exhausted.

To spare you the gory details of my latest Jonah day, let’s just say on Wednesday I morphed into jellyfish woman, able to zap any man, woman, or child in her path. This unfortunate series of events left me so frustrated that I suddenly found myself $20 poorer, sitting alone in a movie theatre, eating enough popcorn to make myself sick.

Yes, I had such a bad day that I spontaneously decided to treat myself to a second viewing of “Cinderella,” the new live-action version starring Lily James. There was something so beautiful and touching about this film the first time I saw it that I hoped my terrible day could be cured by escaping into the Disney-verse for a few short hours.

The mantra of this new Cinderella is “have courage and be kind.” If I’m being honest, the line resonated with me more than I care to admit. I cried through the entire film the first time I saw it. Rather than trying to justify my emotion, I started to think about its source. Why do I identify so much with a fairy tale I’ve heard a thousand times before? Cinderella was never my favorite Disney princess, so why now do I love this story?

I think it has to do with the refreshing, redeeming nature of childhood. The world of the film doesn’t deny misery and grief, but finds a way to turn them into beautiful things. Cinderella’s fairy godmother narrates the story and says that “grief can come to any kingdom.” The Prince’s aging father states that death is “the way of all flesh.” These are true things about our life and our world. Death, aging, misery, unkindness, cruelty—these are the gloomy inhabitants of my days. I see students treating each other with such cruelty and unkindness that it takes my breath away. I see students struggling to understand their emotions and the circumstances in which they have been placed. On bad days I want to run away from these bad things. The sad fact is they will be there tomorrow, too. These bad things are terrible by themselves, but they become more dangerous when I believe that these are the only creatures that will inhabit my world.

This, I realized, is why I flew to the movies again last night. I needed to remind myself that unkindness and sadness are present, but so, too, are joy, happiness, kindness, courage, and love. Ultimately I know that the source of these good things, the one whose mercies are new every morning, will triumph over all hatred and death and wrongdoing. My job is to remind my own heart to have courage and be kind.

Childhood teaches us that magical things do happen, that there is hope for even the vilest stepmother, and that simple virtues trump worldly wisdom every time. What better things to remind myself of on one of the worst days? I’m hoping “Cinderella” has a good long run in theatres, because I have a feeling I might be stopping by on my next Jonah day.

I paid for my spontaneity, by the way, with a debit card and a few hours of popcorn-induced misery.


Movie Review: The Imitation Game

Caveat Lector: I am a professing Christian, and I would classify myself as a very conservative person. I believe what the Bible teaches about homosexuality. For a brief understanding of these views, here’s an interview with John Piper. That being said, I have tried to put as much thought and tact as I can into these words. It’s my desire to be understood, not  misinterpreted.

Review: I thought The Imitation Game was a really great story. It tells about Alan Turing, the man behind the machine that ultimately led to digital computers. Along with a team of analysts, he helped crack the Nazi code “Enigma,” which saved countless lives and probably shortened WWII by years. This synopsis alone was enough to get me into the theatre! I’m very much into any movie that deals with history or little known stories. I thought that the historical elements of this movie were fascinating. These people working on the code were incredibly smart–to be honest, it made my brain smoke.

From the human interest side, I understand why the directors and actors chose to focus on Turing’s homosexuality. It is apparent from watching the film that Turing was mistreated because of his homosexuality from an early age through adulthood. Regrettably, his life ended with a suicide that no doubt sprang from the endless assaults and frustrations he endured, not least of all the chemical castration or “hormone therapy” to which he was sentenced. Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Turing, does a remarkable job at showing the damage to Turing’s psyche that these affronts caused.

From the religious/conservative side, I did feel that at times the makers of the film were trying to push a liberal agenda on me–it almost seemed as if they were saying the only way Turing could have accomplished this feat was because he was a homosexual. That seems like a fallacy to me. Religious differences aside, I thought the movie did a really good job of portraying someone who feels helpless in their situation. Turing, with all the possibilities that intelligence could afford, still needed a savior desperately. In that regard, isn’t he just like me? While I cannot condone his lifestyle, I recognize that he is like me, created in the image of God, and desperately in need of Jesus.

I encourage Christians not to be put off by the messages about homosexuality in this film. I believe that we as Christians can remain firm in our convictions while also being sensitive to the hurts of others. Aristotle said, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” While I do not accept Turing’s way of life as healthy or pleasing to God, I can view him as a puzzling figure, a man who helped saved lives but who could not, in the end, save his own. There is only one Man who can save us:

“But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”

-Hebrews 7:24-25