A Random Image
 

Jett Superior laid this on you on || February 10, 2008 || 1:54 am

temperance

I like movies, but I don’t like to waste my time. There are few things I hate worse than finishing a flick and saying, “Welp, THERE’S TWO HOURS OF MY LIFE I’LL NEVER GET BACK.” So if I see a film, I want it to have a magnetism to it. I want the characters to engage me in a suspension of disbelief: I like to forget that I am watching a mere depiction and to be able to feel that I’m watching someone’s story.

I love a good action film, but mostly I like films that are offbeat, and filled with quirky characters. After all, the world itself is populated with people possessing little hilarious personality tics. I love to see these magnified and highlighted on the screen. And I love a plain ole well-crafted script. Clever writing can almost always overcome poor acting.

One of my favorite films of the last couple years is Junebug. I won’t go into all the reasons why, but I will tell you a little about one character, because she utters the most divine quote out of nowhere. It was so great it stole my breath a little.

This character, Ashley, is a young married woman who lives with her husband in her in-laws’ basement. She is hardly out of high school and pregnant with her first child. Her husband Johnny, also young, is hard-planed and bitter as lemons. He is passively cruel to Ashley, who is forever mild and forgiving and just. so. sweet. in the face of the ugly behavior of others toward her. In some scenes I was actively rooting for her, sympathetic, but in others I was annoyed, “Come ON, Ashley, GROW A PAIR and TELL THE BASTARDS OFF!” One thing we learn about this woman as the film progresses is that she has a deep and abiding love of and faith in God. Her faith, in fact, appears to be very earnest, simple, childlike and –again– just. so. sweet. Earnestness is my kryptonite, y’all. Maybe I’ve chanced to mention that in discussions previous?

So there’s this one scene in the film where Ashley is being given a baby shower by some of her in-laws and folk from their small town. Johnny comes home for the day: He’s been to work, and he’s been to the bar afterward. He’s drunk as a dog and not really caring overmuch about things like manners and decorum and simple human decency. He proceeds down to their basement home and starts disrespectfully making a ruckus. So much of one, in fact, that Ashley goes down there to see after him.

Once again, he is hateful to her, and once again she bears it well, but as she turns to leave she stops herself. She looks Johnny dead in the face as her hand rests atop her pregnant belly and she says, “You know, Johnny, God loves you just the way you are.”

And then, just when you think she’s only uttered one more trite platitude that her spouse won’t get or will simply disregard, she backs that one up with, “But he loves you too much to let you stay that way.”

That’s it. That’s the line that made me stop breathing some: God loves you just the way you are. But he loves you too much to let you stay that way.

Lately, God has been loving me too much to let me stay this way. He’s let me coast for a long time, but now we are Down To Business and apparently we ain’t playin’.

Just as I was opening the window to write this, I saw something pertaining to what I was preparing to write:

“Metals must undergo extremes of temperature, folding and pounding, but the end product is infinitely superior to impure ore mined from the earth. In this image, the soul volunteers the ego for a cleansing and healing experience which may turn the personality inside-out, but which brings out the gold hidden within the heart.”

Makes sense to me: What are we but a big sack of mineral-dusted water, after all? Where does ego come into play anyhow? We are not enough copper for one single penny or enough iron for one single nail, but we are worth so much to God that He seeks relationship with us every single day.

When you lay it out all bare-bones like that, pride seems like such a silly matter; a sacrifice of self appears paramount. I can never do enough, surely I can never be enough, but I damn sure can go at it full-bore, you know?

1 worked it out »

  1. chris robinson 2.10.2008

    I liked Junebug a lot too. It was one of those movies that leaves you alert and grateful to be alive. The acting was amazing and the generosity and kindness of the father, a role played so quietly, left me wanting to be a better, more loving person. Your take on the language, spirituality, and humor was spot on.

     

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