While my husband is slow to praise most movies, he is always up for one made by Quentin Tarantino. Well, it just so happens that one of the films nominated for Best Picture (and other awards) was his Django Unchained. Being a good sport of a wife, I have seen some of Tarantino's movies, I haven't seen this one. Tom went alone – not because I had any objections. It just worked out that way.
Anyway, here's how Wikipedia describes the story: "Set in the antebellum era of the Deep South and Old West, the film follows a freed slave who treks across the United States with a bounty hunter (played by Waltz) on a mission to rescue his wife from a cruel and charismatic plantation owner."
Django Unchained was riddled with graphic violence, foul language and racial epithets. Or so I'm told... That's how all Tarantino's movies are. Lots of blood and guts and gruesomeness and political incorrectness. This latest created a bit of controversy because of our nation's recent focus on gun violence.
Nominated in five Oscar categories, Django Unchained actually won two – one for Original Screenplay, the other going to Christoph Waltz for Best Supporting Actor.
Waltz was a guest host on Saturday Night Live recently in one of the funnier shows they've put on lately. One of the sketches was a prerecorded "trailer" for a fake Tarantino movie – a spree of blood, guts and revenge called, Djesus Uncrossed.
I have a link for this, but I am hesitant to post it because it was so gross. You can certainly search for it yourself if you are not easily offended. During my first viewing of it, I think it would be accurate to say I was in a full body cringe. It featured Jesus rolling the stone away and saying in a menacing voice, "Guess who's back." He then proceeded to butcher the Romans in a variety of disgusting ways. When a Roman soldier exclaims, "Jesus H. Christ!," he responds "The H is silent." Brad Pitt as Peter tells the other disciples that they owe him 100 Roman scalps each, like his character does in Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds.
See? It's grossly offensive... but hilarious. And kinda thought-provoking. I mean, revenge is, I think, something that people naturally desire. All through the Psalms, people are asking God to avenge them. And, if I understand correctly, the faithful Jews of Jesus's day actually did expect some kind of warrior guy who was going to open a can of whup-ass on their enemies.
Austrian actor Christoph Waltz (left)
won Best Supporting Actor for his role
in Django Unchained.
What they got instead was a guy who said, "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called children of God," and gave the enemies the whup-ass can AND the can opener. (One of the critics' quotes on the fake trailer was "A less violent Passion of the Christ." Because, really what happened to Jesus was crazy violent, and I'm guessing Mel Gibson wanted us to see every bit of what he imagined it was like.
So, really, this blogpost is actually thematically linked with the previous one in more ways than one. Sure it's about an Oscar winner. But it's also about how the Kingdom of God comes in a subtle, often unrecognizable package.
Right now, anyway. According to the Revelation of St. John and other Biblical texts, Jesus is going to return. And this time it won't be so quiet. All sorts of havoc is going to ensue. But for right now, you could say the Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed. Tiny, but about to grow into something huge and beautiful and useful. Or like a grain of yeast that I put in my bread machine and it gets all churned up with the paddle into the whole two-pound ball of dough... Of course, maybe using a labor saving device takes some of the umph out of that one...!
The Kingdom of
Heaven is like yeast...
These are all (sort of) parables that Jesus told... because He knew "what was in a man." He knew we'd want big flashy displays of power and might and vengeance.
But that's not what he was about. In one instance, his friends wanted to call down lightning on some particularly unhospitable folks, but Jesus outright rebuked them. In some versions of the Bible He says, "For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them."
I don't really know how to end this, my second Oscar-driven post. Maybe we all have a picture of what God / Jesus is all about. Does he look and act like Santa Claus? Does he kick ass and take names? Is He an avenging angel? Or maybe, He's a still small voice...?
In the book of Kings, Elijah prays for help and this happens:
"The Lord said, 'Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.'
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave."
When I read this I think, my world is so loud... what if God is whispering to me and I don't hear him? I guess I'm actually hoping that He's talking to me through the movies...