It’s awards season in movie-land – the Oscars, the Baftas, the Golden Globes etc. You can always tell this time of year because the names of actors featuring in trailers for new films are preceded by Academy Award Nominee, or Bafta Nominated, or Golden Globe Winner etc. This year Roma is one of the big hitters, a story about Cleo, a housekeeper in a middle-class family. It is a detailed, unhurried, beautifully filmed portrait of life in 1970’s Mexico.
When Cleo’s boyfriend gets her pregnant he immediately does a vanishing trick, leaving her alone and abandoned. Cleo is terrified she will also be rejected by the family she serves. However, the family does not let her down. The mother, Sofia, herself recently abandoned, takes the distressed Cleo to a doctor so she can get proper medical care. Another movie The Favourite is also up there for a shedload of silver, I drew on this a couple of weeks ago (click here to read that), this is a story that highlights the opposite in human nature. Folks not treating each other with kindness or grace, manipulating each other for their own gain.
I’m currently reading John Mark Comer’s book Garden City in which he unpacks the phrase in Genesis 1 about people being made in the image of God. This relates to a couple of things… in ancient times folks made statues of their gods and planted them all over the place. Well, this is a similar thing, people being living, breathing, sweating, smiling, sighing statues, images of the living God. His reps if you like. Reminding one another of the presence of God. In that part of the world the word for image of God (Elohim) was used specifically for kings and queens, they represented the gods in a unique way and had a privileged relationship with them. Not according to the writers of the Bible, that unique ‘privileged’ relationship is available to all of us. We’re all Elohim. Radical stuff. Which brings me back to movies. (obviously!) When stories remind us to care (e.g. Roma) they are saying something about the biblical idea that we are the image of a caring God to one another. When stories portray unkindness, they can demonstrate what happens when we move away from that idea. I’m not saying that we should only watch happy shiny films where everyone smiles all the time. Not at all. Sometimes we need to be disturbed and shaken by the injustices humans can daub on life’s canvass. All kinds of stories can nudge us towards what it is to show others something of the caring, forgiving, strong-enough-to-be-compassionate God.
There has been much noise around the following Gillette advert, and what it says about men. I like it because it nudges us towards compassion and the kind of strength which cares. I’ll leave you with it…