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How to Find Faith at the Movies: The Road Back

January 15, AD2014 2 Comments

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In this series of posts HOW TO FIND FAITH AT THE MOVIES, John invites readers to take a hero’s journey in search of faith through watching movies.

As seen in our ordinary world, John has us first encounter The Fool’s Quest to Understand and asks “Where are you coming from?” Next we consider how each of us is called to adventure through well-drawn questions that present true issues: Issuing the Call to Adventure (“How are you stating your issue?”).

The issue John first posed for himself (“Whether, since I will someday die, do I want to take only those actions that satisfy my love of life?”) was revised after addressing The Role of Reluctance (“Who is authorizing the decision? Whose ‘Why?’ questions are you wanting to respond to?”); Encountering Your Wise Ones ( Part One & Part Two) (“What is your ‘Pope’ advising? What action is your ‘Popes’ taking?”); Crossing Your First Threshold (“Where is necessary and sufficient proof found? What are the pros of your issue?”); and The Power of Love and the Love of Power (“How are the cons of your issue manifesting? “What are the ‘Powers That Be’ saying?”). His revised issue became: “Whether, since I will someday die, do I want to take only those actions that satisfy a life of love?”

With the revised issue in mind, John has us come face-to-face with Your Real Agenda in the hero’s inner sanctum where we are asked: “Who is your worst enemy? How is your real agenda being revealed?” And concerning this real agenda found in the context of the issue, he has us ask: “How are the facts and reasons of your issue becoming known?” in his post called Your Supreme Ordeal.

Then last time, in Seizing the Sword, John focuses our attention on the question, “What insights are emerging?”

In this post, he has us to pay attention to what oversights may be emerging concerning one’s issue.

The Road Back

\”Jesus said to his disciples,
\’Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life?\”
– Matthew 16: 24 & ff.

This paradoxical saying of Jesus seems to take aim at the central problem of my issue, both as originally formulated and as revised. We have addressed the insight concerning my issue in my previous post. Now, I want us to address the oversight that emerges from the issue.

How can I not want to save my life? This is a question not unrelated to how I first formulated my issue.

How can I find my life if I have lost it? If I give away my love, especially without strings, haven’t I lost it and the life I have in loving? How can I find my love if I have given it away without strings? These are questions not unrelated to how I re-formulated my issue.

What is happening?

The emergence of oversight following the emergence of insight. But this is okay. As Lonergan says, we want insight and insight into oversight in order to be practical.

Let’s be practical and explore oversight.

10.51. The Moon:  What Oversights Are Emerging?

Please listen to As by Stevie Wonder, where he sings about loving always.

There in the middle of the song, he sings:

We all know sometimes life’s hates and troubles
Can make you wish you were born in another time and space
But you can bet your life times that and twice its double
That God knew exactly where he wanted you to be placed.
So make sure when you say you\’re in it but not of it
You\’re not helping to make this earth a place sometimes called Hell.
Change your words into truths and then change that truth into love.

I do not know whether Stevie Wonder understands the tenets of Gnosticism, but I sense in this offering a cautionary warning regarding the Gnostic idea that we human beings are in the world perceived by our bodies, but are not essentially connected to our bodies, and not an objective entity of the world we live in. (Gnosticism is the belief that the material world created by the demiurge should be shunned and the spiritual world should be embraced. )

When we doubt these essential connections and claim to be subject only to our own selves, as perhaps Stevie Wonder understands better in his physical blindness than those of us who have eyes to look out of ourselves but do see, we may be bringing Hell on earth for ourselves and others.

In effect, we act as if we are the source of light, when we are really more like the Moon.

The movie “House of Games” presents this insight into oversight in a sobering tale of con games.

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In the movie, author David Mamet uses a Lindsay Crouse’s character, a psychiatrist, to show how she would try to save one of her patients from some people he owes money to. The stakes are high. If he doesn’t pay them, they will kill him, he says. The psychiatrist boldly goes to confront these evil men and finds herself standing in for her patient in a high-stakes poker game.

I do not want to go into the twists and turns that follow, for obvious reasons. No point in spoiling the insight into oversight for you. I will simply ask you to consider what the psychiatrist does with the “light” she finds at the end of the movie. What is Mamet wanting to tell us?

When I meditate on Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross, I see a related insight into oversight. Pilate’s men nail Jesus to the cross intending that he will not get off of it alive. Some want to say Jesus sacrificed himself for us, paid our gambler’s debt for our sins of gambling with the meaning of life. However, when you compare and contrast what Mamet is saying about the psychiatrist salvific actions, and what Jesus was willing to endure, the nail to be grasped about human nature according to Mamet is being profoundly contradicted by the truth of Jesus’ commitment to us

Of course, the further question must be asked? Does Mamet identify with the psychiatrist or with Joe Mantegna’s character, the con man?

With your answer in hand, the final questions then become: Are all opinions just cons? Are all of us con men, women and children? Are we living in a House of Games? Or is Jesus standing up for something and someone beyond mere opinion?

10.52. Holding Together: How are you framing your issue’s answer?

To overcome the relativism of each-is-entitled-to-express-an-opinion, how we frame the answer to our issues becomes critical. We suddenly realize that our answer is not just part of an opinion game.

Decisions about issues that matter have that life and death character to them.

Take a listen to Back in the High Life Again by Steve Winwood. We surely want the answer we reach, like Winwood says, to take us “back in the high life again” where “All the doors I closed one time will open up again” and “All the eyes that watched me once will smile and take me in.”

We want the answer framed in a way that will hold us together as individuals and as parts of groups.

How does framing distinguish insight-into-oversight from just plain oversight.

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John Wayne’s movie “The Alamo” depicts the moments of the fight against the flight from understanding.

The heroes of the Alamo come from many walks of life to share a common task: to hold together against seemingly insurmountable odds. For 13 days they hold together before they are overrun by the Mexican dictator’s army.

What is it that gave them such power? Why are we called on to “Remember the Alamo!” ?

There comes a point in the story where Colonel Travis frames the issue and the answer in terms that provide the basis for the defenders of the Alamo staying and giving up their lives. Travis does not force them to stay and fight. Rather he encourages them each to decide for themselves.

Remembering the Alamo is a way of remembering how freedom is obtained. It is not given by humans freely to one another. It is given by God. The Alamo was and is a mission.

In meditating on when Jesus Is Raised on the Cross, I get a similar feeling concerning the sign being raised for all of us to consider. Moses raised a serpent to cure the Israelites. Jesus crucified frames the answer of the issue Jesus was answering by reference to rectifying the sin of Adam and Eve who ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil at the urging of Satan in the form of a serpent.

Now, with the sign of the cross and the crucifix, we remember how Jesus framed his answer.

10.53. Gradual Development: What actions are showing your issue’s answer?

Signed, Seal, Delivered I’m Yours by Stevie Wonder suggests three stages of the development of our actions that speak louder than our words. We are signed. Then sealed. Then delivered.

The stages of our development as mature adults are not always that easily recognized and some surely think the process of transformation is a more prolonged process.

The Magus” is a movie that emphasizes the psychological processes involved in what often appears to be the “magic” of such transformations.

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This movie can disturb. Remember it is offered again as an example of emerging oversight. There is a sense in which the movie wants to depict how the egocentric person ultimately loses touch with reality, unless it is of his own making.

In the end, the framing of the issue and its answer is critical. The ego-centric ego must shed the ego-centricity to gain true reality. Otherwise, such a person is involved in a self-induced schizophrenia where no amount of psychological “magic” can help, regardless of what form the \”Magus\” takes, and regardless of whether the psychology involved is oriented to fixing the physical brain or adjusting the spiritual mind.

Meditating on The Crucifixion of Jesus and Two Criminals, three things come to mind immediately.

First, the Gnostic split of the two thieves (one, the bad one, a materialist; the other, the good one, a spiritualist) is resolved by the presence of Jesus, fully human and fully divine. While the materialist rejects Jesus, the spiritualist yields to Jesus to find his way to paradise.

Second, there is no gradual development. The one thief dismisses Jesus out of hand. The other admits his faith just as quickly. The oversight and the insight emerge fast and almost simultaneously.

Third, Jesus promises the “good” thief that he will be present today with Jesus in paradise. Jesus is showing him the way.

10.54. Mouth: How are you wanting to tell your final answer?

The song Poetry Man by Phoebe Snow suggests how important and significant words are. Writers often fall in love with words more than any other form of expression.

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The movie “Cyrano de Bergerac” depicts the struggle of a lover who tells of his love, but under the guise of another, via words and letters.

The mortal wound of this love is only revealed at the end. A must see movie to learn how to tell and not to tell one’s final answer to an issue, in this case an issue of love.

“Cyrano,” like many a Frenchman, knows too much and fears rejection, hence the surrogate. The oversight is too late for him in so many ways, but not for us.

In meditating on Darkness at the Crucifixion, we are confronted with the sign of paradox, if not contradiction. Who would have expected Jesus to speak the words he does while preparing to die on the cross. Before the moment of his death, Jesus said from his cross the following seven last words:

\"Sayings

1. Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do. (Luke 23:34)
2. Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.(Luke 23:43)
3. Woman, behold your son. Behold your mother. (John 19:26–27)
4. My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46)
5. I thirst. (John 19:28)
6. Father, into your hands I commit my spirit. (Luke 23:46)
7. It is finished. (John 19:30)

At the moment of death, we find the greatest love Jesus offered is beyond words.

For those caught up only in emotion, rationalism, and will, the death of Jesus seems to tell the answer of nihilism: nothing avoids death. That, as it turns out will be an oversight upon which the history of the world changed.

For those who follow their heart\’s deepest desire and find faith, the life and death of Jesus tells the answer of exnihilism: the act of love creates something out of the apparent nothing of even death.

10.55. Humbling: During any anticipated rejection, what will you do?

The haunting song It’s Over by Roy Orbison brings to mind the finality of a proposed course of action, in this case a failed one. Listen carefully to the deep sorrow and learned humility evoked.

In the movie “Lawrence of Arabia,” Peter O’Toole’s character did not truly understand what his underlying issue was in pursuing the cause of the Arabs until he was captured by the Turks and abused.

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All of his previous heroism yields to a form of blood lust in the aftermath. And though, he ends up handing Damascus over to the Arabs, there is

something deeply troubling him when he seeks to be an “ordinary” man over and against what would be called today post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The naturally heroic gifts he was given were not accepted but were used and thus rejected. He too wanted to reject them and the mission they took him on. He found a desire for humility via a brutal humiliation.

In meditating on when The Body of Jesus Is Removed from the Cross, I sense how some of the followers of Jesus would have anticipated his rejection, especially after being crucified. Surely Jesus anticipated such rejection.

In the midst of such rejection, what do you do? The oversight is what the story of “Lawrence of Arabia” tells us. The insight into the oversight is what is hidden from us in the story of what Jesus did after his dying. But “Lawrence’s” words may be helpful here, for they are more clearly meant for the followers of Jesus: “Nothing is written.”

10.56. The Star: How Are You Responding to Denial?

Shining Star by Earth, Wind and Fire is an upbeat, even inspiring song for some, that tells us of the “astral” view of cosmology. It is clearly wishful (“wish-upon-a-star”) thinking. It provides an example of the oversight of the shooting star: stunning arrival and quick disappearance. When denied, an ego-centric “star” personality collapses just as quickly. So in preparing to tell one’s answer to an issue, one insight into oversight involves anticipating denial.

In the movie “Doctor Zhivago” we have a wonderful depiction of a star, Doctor Zhivago, who is caught up in the middle of the epic Russian revolution.

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While a trained physician, he is also an eloquent poet. Again, we see the Gnostic-like split here. What pulls him together is the inspiration for his poetry: Lara, played by Julie Christie. The Russian Revolution has pulled Zhivago apart in many ways, including away from his wife, a childhood friend of the family. Faced with the problems of the “new” world, he falls in love with Lara.

The tragedy he ultimately encounters is another example of how oversight emerges often in the wake of insight. The circumstances of the revolution overwhelm all of the characters. The revolution that may have appeared to provide a utopia on earth for some amounts to an idealistic oversight that was never real or realizable.

Surely, when the Disciples Mourn over the Dead Jesus, some of them must have experienced this deep sense of denial. Jesus was clearly, expressly, and explicitly denied. Those who were wanting a revolutionary did not get what they wanted.

Mourning Jesus for not being the revolutionary and not offering the utopia some desired allows the oversight to emerge and the memories of what Jesus said He was and what he is really offering to arise.

In the aftermath of such mourning, the writers among the followers of Jesus were later able to write the most inspiring passages in the human language, inspired by Jesus, who as St. Paul would later observe, is our “Sophia” and thus is the answer that supplants Gnosticism’s fallacious claims to be the fitting answer.

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Next time we will learn more about the point of no return in making one’s decision. But for now, please concentrate on your issue, the road back, and the problem of oversight on the hero’s journey. Thanks in advance for your participation.

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HOW TO FIND FAITH AT THE MOVIES

Using

The Decision-Maker’s Path ™

By John Darrouzet

(Cumulative Ordered List of Themes, Questions,

Musical Warm-Ups, Movie Links, and Meditations)

 

HOW TO FIND FAITH AT THE MOVIES: The Road Back

10.51. THE MOON WHAT OVERSIGHTS ARE EMERGING?
As

House of Games

Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross
10.52. Holding Together How are you framing your issue\’s answer?
Back in the High Life Again

The Alamo

Jesus Is Raised on the Cross
10.53. Gradual Development What actions are showing your issue\’s
answer?

Signed, Seal, Delivered I’m Yours

The Magus

The Crucifixion of Jesus and Two Criminals
10.54. Mouth How are you wanting to tell your final
answer?

Poetry Man

Cyrano de Bergerac

Darkness at the Crucifixion
10.55. Humbling During any anticipated rejection, what will
you do?

It’s Over

Lawrence of Arabia

The Body of Jesus Is Removed from the Cross
10.56. THE STAR HOW ARE YOU RESPONDING TO DENIAL?
Shining Star

Doctor Zhivago

Disciples Mourn over the Dead Jesus

   © 2014. John Darrouzet. All Rights Reserved.

About the Author:

John Darrouzet is a successful Hollywood screenwriter, an accomplished lawyer, a student of decision-making, and a deeply committed Roman Catholic layman who is FINDING FAITH AT THE MOVIES. Read more about John here.

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