Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Documentary about Euripedes? And There Are Puppets?

I watched a provocative documentary last night called Protagonist, by Jessica Yu. The documentary was about what it means to be a man, to be heroic, real, honest. It's about control (or it's illusion). It's about change and being unable to change. It's about fathers and sons. It left me thinking, and I'm writing to help me think about it.

One of the issues Protagonist speaks about is the idea of certainty - the tragedian dangers of it. And I understand they are there. I understand the hubris that is rightly associated with it. But there is certainty and there is certainty.

Let me provide a simple example from religion. Faith is certainty - this is what the writer of Hebrews teaches us. (I don't mean to imply that we don't doubt or question at times. Doubt is common to every man.) But with this certainty I can go one of two ways: (1) I can love God, love people, or (2) I can become a tyrant of righteousness - a jihadist, an unflinching apologist unmindful of the expense, a crusader. And, here's the rub, I can be both of these - sometimes within the same hour. Christianity is not safe - the world is right about that. It is certainly no guarantor of civility or love. History and the mirror say so. But Christianity, Christ, is the way to love, to kindness, to the Father. Each of us are becoming more alive or more dead - we choose life or we choose death (and, for a moment, relieve those phrases from their ties to abortion). In death we reject others. We hate. We categorize and judge. In life, we embrace. We befriend people like the ex-ex-gay evangelist. We forgive the terrorist, the thief. We forgive our fathers. We love. And it doesn't matter how they think of us or what they say about us or how they treat us. Regardless of what we receive, we give back love.

We must humanize people - see them with eyes of compassion, as brothers and sisters. This documentary helps to do this without taking away personal responsibility. It sees sources, it sees abuse, but it doesn't leave the blame there. As our German terrorist, Hans-Joachim, says, "I am not the victim. I am the perpetrator."

It's a good documentary, but also a difficult one. I'd be happy to continue the conversation in the combox.


Scott Lyons said...

By the way, there's more to this movie than some attack on certainty. But it was the question of certainty that rattled me.

Dan said...

I'll look forward to commenting on the movie. It's been awhile since a movie has compelled me towards reflection as much as this one did. It's late right now, but I'll post some of my thoughts tomorrow.

And I hope others will watch this movie--it would be enjoyable to discuss such a provocative movie in the confines of the blogosphere. It makes me think that it might be fun to have interested parties be involved in a monthly online movie discussion group. This movie is certainly fodder for plenty of lively discussion.

Scott Lyons said...

A movie discussion group would be fun. Count me in when you get it up and running.