“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Saturday, December 01, 2007


Our group periodically has a "movie night" where we rent a film, get a bunch of pizzas and bottles of coke, sit in chairs or lay on the floor and watch the movie.  We have found that the more slapstick, the better.  Well we had a movie night last night, and with the Christmas season here, we decided to watch Elf.  It was a big hit and everyone enjoyed it.

It is funny, though, because a lot of the comedy revolved around Buddy (the elf) who although he is pure and loving and kind, struggles because he doesn't understand the social behavior of life in New York.  He is friendly and open and loving, but that doesn't always work in New York City. He finds his father (who is on the naughty list) and becomes his "redemption" (I assume he now moved to the nice list).  So all the slick sophisticated people move through their lives in a kind of funk while Buddy sees beauty, sees excitement in all that is around him.  He is also brutally honest with himself and others about his environment.  In the end, the environment changes, his brother likes him, his girlfriend believes him, his father takes a greater interest in his family.  It is obvious the connection with adults with cognitive disabilities who are often very similar in their honesty and their loving nature.

The family is also confronted with the choice of changing to adapt to Buddy, or rejecting him. This is the choice I see for the church, change and adapt to persons with various disabilities or reject them.  The mother in the family advocates for the family to change while the father advocates for rejection.  Ultimately, the father confronts Buddy and does reject him.  Once again, this is a perfect illustration of the two options the church has before it.  Acceptance or rejection.  As an outsider you understand the father's frustration, but you resonate with the mother's and the brother's acceptance.  Only a Scrooge would side with the father in the rejection of Buddy in spite of the difficulties he brings to the family because of his differences. But all too often, we as the church have sided with the rejecters (those on the naughty list I might add) rather than going through the changes necessary to accept a person who is different in some way.

At one critical point in the movie, the son, Buddy's brother says to his father, "Buddy loves everybody.  You only love yourself."  I see that sometimes in the church.  The person with mental retardation loves pretty much everybody.  We as the "non-disabled" love mostly ourselves and our own comforts.

At the climax of the movie, people sing Santa Claus is Coming to Town as an indication of their Christmas spirit (which could be another complete blog entry) and Santa's sleigh is lifted into the sky.  As we rode home in the van, the men in the car one by one, broke out in a mostly unintelligible (as far as the words go) version of Santa Claus is Coming to Town.  One of the men, Tom, didn't know all of the words.  He just sang over and over

You better watch out
You better watch out
You better watch out
You better watch out

Good words for any Christian, any Christian church to remember.



Anonymous said...

Many christian adults are very much like the character of Buddy's father (James Cann) in the movie Elf. People are completely un-intuned with their families and their fellow man and are completely self-absorbed. Buddy represents the innocence of those who are not nutured in a way that most american people are nuturned now - think only about yourself. Buddy represents the hope that most parents originally hope their child would be like but only as a child and then they take that innocence and optimisim away from that child to help them "mature" but the society's definition of maturity is a selfish microwave like type of thinking where we only want what we want and will do anything quickly to achieve it. Buddy represents the portion of our society that is disadvantaged by not having the street smarts or social etiquette. Most adults (christian and non-christians)are not accepting of people who are disabled or disadvantaged until the disability is prevelent in their lives by either having a child or other family member disabled. Most parents who find out that their child is disabled goes through a mourning period prior to being accepting of the the challenge they will face. It's safe to say all couples will say they want their child to be healthy - but what does that entitle? A child with down's syndrome free of illness is healthy but would that couple be excited about their new baby at first upon hearing of the down's syndrome? What constitutes "healthy"? Most people would probably be unwilling to admit that their definition of "healthy" as being "free from any disability or being perfect in the eyes of society".

V.E. Frazier 1/9/07

Amanda said...

Funny,You better watch out! That seems to be an unbelievable real theme with the church, and to accept or not to accept. Unfortionetly the idea of accepting what is not easy, or rather different has become non important for the church. Many churches now a days are concerened about one thing and one thing only. Numbers, since the growth and boom of the "mega church" all churches great or small are interested in how many people attend, how much money did we get this month, or how many people accepted the "alter" call. Unfortionetly they have missed the mark does it not talk about these exact things or the concept in Matthew 6? Do not worry, about what you will wear or eat etc... for God will take care of you. The churches focus is on the wrong thing, they are focusing on themselves just like the blog mentions and instead of loving everybody they are really loving themselves. However, on the outside you would not notice this to be true, because the church is just as crafty and sly as the devil sometimes in my opinion, its when you get into the heart of the matter that the truth comes out and you see the focus, and the focus is self. I think that is a terrbile and real stigma of the church. If they would just open up their arms to "all" not even just disabled but mix racies ,even gays (Everyone should be able to come, some should not be able to serve on a minstry) and just love them, become natives as Jeff mentioned in one of his other blogs. Be natives so its easy to love them, and so then in turn our children can love them. I was raised in a family where if you were MR or had some form of disability we made fun of you, and for the longest time I didn't understand why we did, we just did, and so when I was young and nieve I joined in, but it was not until 6th grade when I befriended a young girl with down syndrom that I realized the cruilty of my words and actions. As well as my families, and the truth was we did not know, we were immigrants and just followed society saying they are not all there "labling the the wounds mention." It was a great wake up call, and I agree if we would learn to take our eyes off ourselves we would see the damage that we may have caused, and the beauty of what can be done, and what God planned for the church and Christians can be accomplished!