Daily Challenges To Faith
Mat 13:58 And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.
Crash is a feature film done by the screenwriter/producer of Million Dollar Baby. You might remember MDB as the movie that nearly swept the most recent Academy Awards. In it Clint Eastwood, Hilary Swank, Morgan Freeman, and the director and writer seek to challenge the audiences’ beliefs on euthanasia. Whatever your ethical stance, that film is tragic, moving, and yet, in the end, hopeless. MDB ends with a shot through the window of a greasy-spoon coffee shop in the middle of nowhere, with a lost and broken old man sitting at the counter, silent and motionless.
Crash, by way of contrast, uses a not-uncommon presentation style to offer us a different view of life. The writer captures a day in the life of several “stereotypical” people who have no idea how intertwined their lives are. Set in Los Angeles, the cast includes the Caucasian District Attorney, his white wife, his black female assistant (and possibly lover). The DA and his wife employ a Hispanic lady as their housekeeper/nanny. Two friends, the angry black youth (well-educated in the history of racism in America) and his calmer, more philosophical companion are colleagues in car-jacking. We have a black male detective (whose mother is a recently relapsed heroin addict and whose younger brother is missing, probably living on the streets) and his female Hispanic partner in both law enforcement and amour. Also, a Hispanic young man covered with tattoos collected in his teens, who now is trying to build a life with his wife and daughter. There are several other pairings (relationships really) that are integral to the plot, but I think you get the idea of the complexity of the plot. The writer does a superb job of presenting accurately the incredible complexity of daily life in a fallen world.
Awful things happen in this movie. A black woman is sexually brutalized by a white police officer while his partner holds her husband at gunpoint. A Persian immigrant family’s store is vandalized by thugs who mistake them for Arabs and thus believe them deserving of the hatred of all good Americans. One vignette after another, exposing the characters to stress and seeing their varied responses. Many seem utterly beyond redemption, and others seem innocent and endearing. The plot moves slowly, inexorably toward the worst, most excruciating conclusion imaginable (yes, even more excruciating than the afore-mentioned molestation). And then. . .
GRACE! Amazing, shocking, indescribably wonderful GRACE!
Do things end perfectly? Of course not. We’re not at that part of the story yet. And while the writer/director of Crash sought to challenge our preconceived notions of racism, and racists in particular, I want to take a different tack for a moment.
Do we who call ourselves disciples of Christ, worshippers of the Creator, lovers of God, do we live our moment-to-moment lives expecting the worst to happen to us, or the best? I spent the entire movie expecting more and more of the same awfulness, and was shocked to the core by the slyly camouflaged message of hope! It made me ask myself: Do I live my daily life expecting good to prevail? Do I expect my days to be blessed by the promises of David in Psalm 23, or do I expect more and more absurdity, day after day after day forever?
If we really believe that Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ of God came to Earth to fulfill the gracious and hope-filled promises of God and to throw wide the gates to the kingdom of God, to initiate a world-wide conspiracy of grace and love, then we’d better get with the program and start EXPECTING God to do amazing and glorious things. Maybe we should pray like Elisha, that our eyes be opened to God’s mighty forces around us. I don’t know. I know I was disappointed with my self-evaluation. Maybe you’ll do better with yours.
in HIS love,
P.S. – Crash is rated R for adult themes, sexual situations, language, and one very brief scene of nudity. The nudity is no worse than, say, Braveheart, and the language more racially offensive than traditionally vulgar. I recommend it for the discerning adult viewer who does not fear being challenged to rethink their notions of people and the world.