Proclaiming the Good News of God in Christ

Movie Review: The Butler

Review of Lee Daniels’ The Butler by a loyal Tri-Faith member.

For the past several days, a fellow member of the Episcopal Tri-Faith community and I have been exchanging email messages about this past week’s Gospel: Luke 12:51-53. Paraphrased (by me) it reads:

“The simplistic ‘feel good’ message of many contemporary preachers is flat wrong. God did not send me here to gift unto you Peace. I do not come to bring peace on earth. I did not come to simply increase Average Sunday Morning Attendance figures. To the contrary, with intention, I have come to bring division and angst—especially within the family unit. I assure you that I will divide families and cause great turmoil within your family. I will set father against son and son against father.”

What is Jesus saying? The total body of the Gospels’ writers works ought to leave all Christians with the firm conviction that the Prince of Peace commands mankind to reform and be individually transformed so that we love and take care of the least among us—not to continue running over the poor and disenfranchised.

Fresh on the heels of rummaging around with this week’s Gospel, I attended a showing of The Butler.

What is the director saying? This fictional family story is raw with father-against-son and son-against-father tension. In the end, it is a story about the transformation (individually and for all of mankind) that comes out of the division that Jesus intentionally brings to our lives.

So, my take: study last week’s Gospel. With that study fresh in mind, go see The Butler. I am drawn to Carl Sandburg’s poem that may be saying something similar. Perhaps something along the lines of: God does not want us to simply follow in our father’s footsteps and/or (more to my stage of life), God most certainly does not want our children to follow in the messy foot prints we have left.

Lay me on an anvil, O God.
Beat me and hammer me into a crowbar.
Let me pry loose old walls.
Let me lift and loosen old foundations.

Lay me on an anvil, O God.
Beat me and hammer me into a steel spike.
Drive me into the girders that hold a skyscraper together.
Take red-hot rivets and fasten me into the central girders.
Let me be the great nail holding a skyscraper through blue nights into white stars.

– Carl Sandburg

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