Sunday, June 14, 2009

We Interrupt This Movie....

The national debate over the Obama administration’s proposals for what seems intended to be, in effect, the transformation of the U.S. health care network into a British style single-payer socialized insurance system is really heating up. I had intended my next post to continue on some of the economic basics of health insurance with one of the most important economic problems: adverse selection. However, along the way Sue and I watched the DVD of Gran Torino and I just had to say something about it.

A problem with discussing Gran Torino is that it’s hard to talk about without spoiling the action for those who haven’t seen it. But, here’s a movie about life, death, sin, the consequences of sin, confession, redemption, transformation, the Sermon on the Mount, the parable of the Good Samaritan, Dirty Harry in retirement, appropriate lawn care, muscle cars, barbers, and a dog [and, a warning, language that risks offending just about anyone].

Presbyterians seem inclined to believe that it is written in the Gospels that all Bible studies must have one chapter in each of 13 weeks. Even if that is true, a Bible study based on Gran Torino could go the distance.

If those who haven’t seen the movie want to jump ship here, let me note just one example. How does the difference in Walt’s first and second response to the neighborhood problems speak to the debate as to whether Christian peacemaking is or is not pacifism? I argue that Walt’s transformation illustrates that the “use of force” is not at all the key issue: “force” (yes, I will argue actual physical force by one person directed against another) is an integral part of both of Walt’s plans. The difference was what was in Walt’s heart, and whose agenda he was following. Walt’s first response was a classic example of the fact that even if we thoroughly believe that we want to do good, if we put our own will and reason at the center of what defining what is “good,” we will miss God’s mark.

There are at least 12 other great discussions for Christians to be had from Gran Torino.

Next up from me, a return to “Trouble Indemnity,” adverse selection, and the case of the irritated elevator operator.

1 comment:

A & A said...

(Spoiler Alert) In addition to Walt's transformation, it is hard to ignore the Christ-like "saving" that occurs in the film. I was thinking specifically about the fact that Walt locks Thao (sp?)in the basement against his wishes. I think this parallels God's unanswered prayers. Sometimes we think we know what course of action to take, or what is best for ourselves, but of course, God knows best. Sometimes unanswered prayers bring us temporary frustration or confusion, but always make sense in the end. I'm not suggesting that Walt "stands in" for God in this movie, just that Thao's character can represent humankind: flawed sinners who are forever indebted to the man who died to save us.