Beyond Good


My daughter was telling me why she didn’t like a certain Bible teacher, summing it up with this story:

“She and her husband went to an office Christmas party – of course she wouldn’t say whose – and after overhearing the ungodly conversations of the ungodly co-workers, they vowed never to go to an office Christmas party again.”

“I would have been way more inspired,” she continued, “if the woman had told a story about going to the party, learning something about the co-workers’ lives and entering in – perhaps visiting one in rehab or the hospital, meeting a need.”

In other words, a story about bringing Jesus into the midst of their ungodly lives rather than fleeing from them.

“Don’t be too quick to write that teacher off, she just isn’t there yet,”  I said.

“Not there yet? She’s in her fifties!  And she’s a Bible teacher.”

Lot’s of Bible teachers aren’t there yet.

Where is There?

It’s beyond the Ten Commandments.

The Ten Commandments are all about behavior. The first four dictate our behavior toward God and the following six dictate our behavior toward one another:  Don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t lie about one another, don’t commit adultery against one another, don’t covet one another’s stuff, don’t give your parents grief.

Lots of Bible teachers live in that list – mastering it, teaching it, warning against disobeying it.

And then Jesus comes along and says, “A new command I give you: Love one another.” John 13:34a NIV [italics added]

Beyond good behavior is love.

Beyond not harming anyone is actually loving them.

The Pharisees were all about perfecting their own behavior and judging the ungodliness of everyone else.  They piled on the rules, they raised the bars.

And to that Jesus said, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.”

Don’t flee from them, lift a finger to help them. Maybe even lay down your pristine, unpolluted life (James 1:27) to get to know them.

Jesus went on to say, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34b [italics added again]

As I have loved you. That’s big love.

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13 NIV

And that brings me to Silence.

A few days later my daughter saw the movie Silence and our conversation continued.

In the movie, after much angst and suffering, a Jesuit priest apostatized – not to save himself, but to save the Japanese Christians among whom he was a missionary.

He went beyond good behavior to love.

He laid down his Jesuit reputation to save his friends.

And he stomped on Jesus.

Some might gasp.

And quote Jesus:

“But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” Matthew 10:33

And conclude that he is doomed.

But in the movie, after much prayer, Jesus told Father Rodrigues to step on His image.

And that might be the ultimate There:  To lay down one’s eternal life for one’s friends.

I don’t believe that Father Rodrigues lost his eternal life, but he was willing to take that gamble.

I read an article about the movie which shed a little light:

A Jesuit spiritual tradition may also be helpful here. In the Spiritual Exercises St. Ignatius speaks of three levels, or “degrees,” of humility. The first level is when one does nothing morally wrong. In other words, one leads a good life. The second level is when a person who, when presented with the choice of riches or poverty, honor or disgrace, is free of the need for either. In other words, the person is free to accept whatever God desires, not being “attached” to one state or the other.
The third level of humility, the highest, is when a person is able to choose something dishonorable because it brings him or her closer to Christ. “I desire to be regarded as a useless fool for Christ, who before me was regarded as such,” in the words of the Spiritual Exercises. A person accepts being misunderstood, perhaps by everyone, just as Christ was.
This is what Father Rodrigues chooses, confusing as it may be to Christian Europe, to his Jesuit superiors—and even to modern-day filmgoers.   – America, the Jesuit Review

Right now that Bible teacher is trying real hard not to do anything morally wrong and to keep herself from being polluted by the world.  Good for her. She’s setting a “good” example.

And some day she’ll risk her reputation among her fellow unpolluted Bible teachers to set an even better example – one that inspires.

She’ll get There. It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to get her There.



It was a hot and steamy Saturday, too hot to do anything but go to the movies. So to the movies we went.

We saw Indignation.

I am about to spoil the ending, and maybe most of the middle, so if you are thinking of seeing it, stop reading now. But before you go, hit the “like”switch on your way out, just for the heck of it.

As we were exiting the theater my daughter labeled it a “sad, strange movie.”

When asked what he thought of it on the car ride home, the hub said he wanted to shake the guy.

I suggested that the movie might have been better named “Intolerance.”

Perhaps the misnomer was calculated, to lure an audience. The brief plot summary paired with the title gave me the impression that it was going to be about the unfair treatment of a young Jewish man at an Ohio College in the 1950’s.

That would have been something about which to be indignant.

And who doesn’t like their indignation riled once in a while in the confines of the movie theater?

But this was about a young atheist, who happened to be Jewish, who was indignant at the requirement to sit through 10 hours of chapel per year, 40 hours of chapel in all.

Indignant even though, when he accepted a scholarship to the college, he surely knew chapel was a requirement. I say surely because he was a bright, serious, studious, logic-driven young man who surely would have read the student manual, the requirements, the fine print.

He would have read the terms and accepted them in order to be the first in his family to go to college and, more precisely, in order to escape the draft.

The narration at the start of the story set up the ending.  All the little decisions along the way, the narrator said, make a difference in one’s life, bring about one’s death.

There were scenes I could have happily lived without, included perhaps to confuse the viewer – to suggest that the demise of the bright-futured young man would be at the hands of a beautiful, messed up woman (a la The Natural). Or perhaps merely included for those who enjoy gratuitous defilement. But the decision to pursue a beautiful, messed up woman is not what lead to his demise. It wasn’t the decision that revoked his scholarship, got him booted from the college, landed him on the battlefield.

It was his religious intolerance.

His intolerance of religion.

Indignation is a cautionary tale; a warning to all religion-intolerant atheists; to all imtheists.

And perhaps to all the modern college students who demand to be protected from ideas/beliefs that are contrary to their own.




I find men and women making sport of punching, maiming, sometimes KILLING one another utterly heinous.

I find the desire to SPECTATE men and women punching, maiming and sometimes killing one another EVEN MORE heinous.

I just can’t wrap my head around that desire. I shudder. I hate that pounding people and cheering the pounding of people exist in the world.

But I loved Creed yesterday.

Because, though I hate boxing, I love good stories – even stories about people who box: Cinderella Man, Million Dollar Baby, Rocky.

I missed all the actual boxing scenes because I had my eyes closed, but the non-boxing scenes made me happy. The movie had a strong female character with goals of her own. It didn’t quite pass the Bechdel test, though, because even though it had exactly two named women in it, they didn’t talk to one another and, therefore, they couldn’t talk about something besides a man. But, if the story continues, I believe they WILL talk to one another and they WILL talk about something besides a man. They’ll talk about Mary Ann’s strength of character, the strength of forgiveness, Bianca’s music career, honesty, etc.

Sylvester Stallone will make you proud. The perfectly placed throwback to the Rocky theme song will lift you heart. Truly.

There were references back to the original that warmed my heart. The hub said they warmed his heart, too. I got choked up. A tear or two rolled down my face. It was like Rocky was real. Like I was reminiscing about old family and I realized the place they had in my heart. I LOVED them.

I went because my daughter, who has not seen a single Rocky movie wanted to see it. The hub wanted to see it, too.

Afterward I asked my daughter how she liked it. She liked it a lot.

“When the movie first started, though,” she added, “I thought, He can’t be a boxer, he’s too pretty to be a boxer.

Oh yes, a great story with some eye candy is even better.

Who else saw it?





Bridge of Spies

My fun, vivacious, truly sweet-hearted, California-living, niece, Mary, works for Steven Spielberg/DreamWorks.  When the studio schedules a screening for a new movie in the Detroit area, she invites my sisters and me to attend.  Yay!

It’s always fun to see a good movie, and it’s even more fun when seeing the movie is free AND when you walk into the theater and see your name taped on a really great seat.  Makes a girl feel kinda’ special.

And so it was that Wednesday night the hub and I went to see Bridge of Spies.  And it was GOOD!  REALLY GOOD!

I love Tom Hanks anyway, but boy, oh, boy.

I also love movies inspired by true events, ‘cuz I love learning a little something about history, about the brave things that people do.

The hub and I talked about it all the way home.  He remembered the event even though he was only ten when it transpired.  He also remembered talking about it a few years later when he was in seventh grade.

I was only two back in 1962, so the movie was the first I knew of it. And I wanted to know more, so I googled James Donovan the next day.

Wow. Big, bold and brave things.

Go see it when it comes out next week.  Tell me what you think.