Saturday, February 14, 2009

Jesus, Justice, Nonviolence & Valentines

"After contemplation, I conclude that this award which I receive on behalf of that movement is a profound recognition that nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time - the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression." -Martin Luther King, Jr. during his acceptance speech of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize

I first realized that nonviolence was a biblical imperative when I read Gareth Higgins' How Movies Helped Save My Soul some 4 years ago. Now Dr. Higgins lives nearby, and I recently found his blog through the Sojourners' blogs. The link is right here. Interesting, huh?

I continued my inauguration into the topic of nonviolence at the end of high school with Derek Webb's album Mockingbird. However, it wasn't until last year that his song "My Enemies are Men Like Me" finally made sense to me. In the song there is an audio clip of the above quote. It's brilliant. Webb's subsequent work in albums like The Ringing Bell has continued to fuel this connection between my faith and the ethic of nonviolence.

Then this summer I read Shane Claiborne's The Irresistible Revolution. What stories he tells of loving "enemies" and the fusion of Jesus & justice! Recently I read this blog post of his on the Sojourner's blogs, which you should definitely check out!

Along with that post there is a recent reply by a guy, Jarrod McKenna, who lives in Australia, where Shane recently was. His blog post sums up where I want to see myself inserted into the faith equation. He talks about Rob Bell and Don Golden's recent book Jesus Wants to Save Christians, which hits the nail on the head in terms of how our faith should not be preserving an empire, but ushering in a new one. We should bend our lives around restoring our cities and our nations, creating a world that is sustainable and generous. Where people can eat, drink and earn a living without fear for their lives. Go. Read it! (Both the book & blog post.)

Although all these things might not seem connected on their face, they are in fact deeply connected. I struggle often to connect my faith beliefs with the world around me when so many of my friends don't necessarily share them. I think that is a beautiful thing that we are all so diverse and can still live and share together. But at my core, I don't feel it right to try and impose what I believe on these beautiful friends. Instead, I feel that I should live out my faith principles, and as Jarrod McKenna's post says, then people will and should be curious as to why we live so counter-culturally. These principles of restoration, social justice and nonviolence, and yes, of redemption through Jesus are not just trendy, but are founded on the deepest knowledge that something is fundamentally broken in the world, and that God is asking us to help Him put it back together. Because I believe this Jesus God is someone who cares more deeply about these things than anyone I know.

As I embark on a career in filmmaking, I am excited about the opportunities to put my faith and values into a medium I love so well. Films that speak of redemption, in any form, are moving. Movies as storytelling media give us the chance to rewrite our stories and to choose goodness in all its forms. But this is not enough.

As Rachel says in Batman Begins, "It's not who you are underneath, it's what you do that defines you." Don Miller also reiterates this in Blue Like Jazz by saying that true belief is hard; it is reflected in what you do. By this token, I don't think it is enough for me to simply create works of art about issues of justice - it is my duty to live these out.

This summer Kris and I are moving to LA along with some other amazing Chapel Hill students! We are excited about it, but are also considering what it will look like to live in a place with such disparities between wealth and poverty. We want to continue to live out our values as we move forward in life. Any ideas and thoughts would be much appreciated!

So Happy Valentines Day everyone! Kris and I are eating cheaply, making candy for our friends and neighbors in our community, and talking about these kinds of topics - the intersection of Jesus, justice, nonviolence and love. Definitely my kind of celebration! ;) Remember folks, this "love" belongs to everyone in the world - let's not hoarde it for ourselves!!

1 comment:

Ashleigh said...

That sounds like a most excellent Valentine's Day date! When you get here, I'll forward on to you some of the film events we have at Fuller. I've been to several really great ones this year with both other people's and Fuller students' indies, and lots of them are using art to bring attention to issues of injustice... which doesn't totally solve your problem (not everyone's going to make all super-justicey films all the time!), since I know part of the question is just how to live in such a weird world like Hollywood... BUT it's a start, right? ;o) If I get to know any filmsy people here, I'll definitely try to help you get to know each other. They might be good ppl to know as you continue to sort through these things.

I'm still trying to figure out what they mean in my own weirdo life!