Where do you stand?
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Where do you stand?

His momentary surprise reflected the widely held community expectation that Brokeback Mountain would take off the top award. Some pundits, who had backed the wrong horse, proclaimed the decision to be “the biggest upset in the history of the Academy,” but those from the motion picture industry, who had exercised their collective responsibility, had decided otherwise, and I suspect with good reason.

At the time of the Oscars I had not viewed the film that had been named ‘number one,’ so I decided to do so at my first available opportunity. In my opinion, it had about it the marks of real excellence.

Personally, I found viewing Crash a most demanding experience. It certainly did not provide “a pleasant night out at the movies.” In fact, sitting through a great deal of it was quiet exacting. In many ways its impact on me was similar to that of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. Neither of these masterpieces left any room for compromise. An honest appraisal of both left me with no room to dodge the question: ‘Where do I stand?’

As a matter of fact, I found it excellent Lenten faire as the footage unfolded, laying bare the spontaneous aggression, the purposeless prejudices, and countless forms of abuse contrasted, however, with some beautiful, redeeming moments of thoughtfulness and tenderness towards others. As scene after scene impacted on the screen, I repeatedly asked myself what different ways so many of these citizens of Los Angeles (ironically, the ‘City of The Angels’) might have chosen to act had they adopted the blueprint of Jesus manifested in the Gospel narratives.

For those who did make such a choice, or who later discovered the errors of their ways, the outcomes were infectious. The goodness that imbued their lives somehow overflowed and communicated itself to those with whom they were endeavouring to relate.

While I sincerely hope that you do decide to view this film for yourself, I would suggest that you visit the cinema in the company of at least one other thinking adult. You could then meaningfully debrief with them after the lights come up. Allowing yourself to be confronted by Crash, along with the issues it raises, will probably demand a great deal of you. In many ways, it openly displays the rawness of life experienced by some citizens of a modern-day city, one that could well be our own.

The language of some individuals and the behaviour of others in the movie might well shock you but, taking those issues into account, I do hope that your viewing really involves you. Rather than merely sitting in judgment on many of the roles that people are playing, maybe, like me, you will be game enough to face two questions about yourself that are most fitting for this season of Lent that seeks to prepare us for the sufferings and death of Jesus that were the prelude to the triumph of His Resurrection:

  • Where do I stand in the light of all the situations depicted?
  • How can I live my life from now on in the light of the ways people treated each other, for the good or for ill, on the streets of Los Angeles, which might well be similar to the ways of people on the streets of your own city?
Only you can answer these questions, though some lift from the Lord in these regards would surely be very helpful!
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