Jesus at the Academy Awards?

God shines in all that's fair, so here goes ... I'll be posting some glimpses of a Kingly, loving presence at the Kodiak Theater tonight. Stay tuned, and feel free to add your own thoughts and comments.

masculinity and femininity underlined by the traditional black tuxedoes and beautiful gowns -- a night of glamour indeed...

host Jon Stewart's assumptions of a shared cultural literacy about the suffering of the Jewish people...Sodom and Gomorrah...the ten commandments...

George Clooney's reference to the surety of his death even as he's clutching one of the ultimate earthly prizes, a gold statuette...

the artistry and imagination in the films nominated for best visual effects, animation, and costume design serving as reminders that we're made in the image of a creative God...

nominated for best song, Dolly Parton croons about being on a "journey as a wayfaring stranger, traveling on, with many questions, to know the greater truth, they nailed Jesus to a tree, redemption comes in many shapes with many kinds of pain, sweet Jesus, keep me close, stumbling, tumbling, wandering through, everybody travel with me, we're all God's children, wayfaring pilgrims, spirit is willing, flesh is weak, I ain't here to judge"...huge applause responding to the humility of her invitation on the journey towards grace...

couples like Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith holding fiercely to their vows while so many celebrity marriages crumble like badly-baked cookies...

the taken-for-granted practice of giving thanks after getting an award acknowledging the teamwork and help of others...

a montage of human heroes, many of great character, who were made into the subject of films...

best supporting actress Rachel Weisz' tribute to "those who make sacrifices for the sake of injustice -- they are greater men and women than me"...

using words like sin, redemption, grace, and forgiveness, and quoting the opening lines from the movie Crash ("people are so isolated these days, they are not above crashing into each other"), Jennifer Lopez introduces "In The Deep" by Bird York, another best song nominee from the movie Crash (the song ends with the words "if you want to be given everything, give everything up," reminiscent of Jesus' call)...

another montage demonstrating how great films have the power to confront hatred and help change sinful cultural mores...

the President of the Academy says that "state of the art technology will change but state of the heart storytelling will stay the same (Jesus knew this truth)..."

Robert Altman's analogy of films being sandcastles that the tide will take away...

when "it's hard out here fo' a pimp" wins best song, hip-hop artists Three 6 Mafia come to the Academy stage getting bleeped right and left but also shouting "thank you Jesus!" (I'm hoping the song's essentially a satirical take on the way pimps justify their lifestyle, not a celebration of it)...

a heartfelt prayer from the winner of the best foreign language film, even if he didn't realize it: "God bless Africa!"

best actor Philip Seymour Hoffman's tribute to motherhood: "you took me to my first play...you stayed up watching the NCAA final four with me...my passions became your passions ... thank you, Mom..."

best actress Reese Witherspoon's call, echoing June Carter, to live a life that matters...

Overall, the show felt like an invitation to people who feel disenfranchised by Hollywood: "Remember how much you loved the movies? Come back!" Could this be a Macedonian call?

Parenting postscript: As someone who prides herself on being a "discerning" critic of culture, I was amazed by this exercise in practicing Philippians 4:8. It's interesting how quickly being "discerning" can slip into negativity and foster a critical, judgmental spirit. This year, I left the Oscars feeling energized and hopeful instead of depressed and full of condemnation. And the next morning, I shared the experience with my teens on the way to their public school and encouraged them to seek glimpses of grace. ("Blah, blah, blah, school," is probably what they heard, but I delivered my maternal missional sendoff with new gusto.) Find more resources to travel wisely in the realm of film here.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I love that song too. But actually, that last line is taken from the 22nd verse of the Chinese 'Tao Te Ching', not the Bible.

you said:
"In The Deep" by Bird York, another best song nominee from the movie Crash (the song ends with the words "if you want to be given everything, give everything up," reminiscent of Jesus' call)...

Mitali Perkins said...

True, but it reminded me of when Jesus said, "For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?" Mark 8:35-36. Thanks for writing.