Saturday, January 31, 2009

Wisdom at the Movies

The following is an introduction to a document that I wrote to explain a display I put up in the library to accompany the college's Christian life week. The theme for the week was wisdom. One of the chapel staff members had suggested we do a display of DVDs the library had that portrayed some aspect of wisdom. I put up 53 DVDs of feature films and it looks like almost all have circulated at least once. At least 35 were checked out yesterday.

What is wisdom and where is it to be found? How does one become wise? Scripture teaches us to search diligently for wisdom wherever it might be found. Wisdom, the skillful application of knowledge and insight to daily life, begins with the fear of the Lord. We begin by recognizing our life as a gift that is dependent on the mercy and grace of God. By trusting in the Lord and acknowledging Him in all our ways we are able to recognize the meaning in the order and patterns in the world He has given us and then to apply that knowledge as we seek our way in that world.

Because this world has been founded and established by divine wisdom there is a great deal of knowledge and insight available even to those who do not begin with the fear of the Lord. Certainly anyone can learn to observe those patterns and to recognize the vanity and contingency of our life under the sun. Filmmakers of all faiths are able to portray many facets of wisdom as they assemble their stories on the screen. Some show us the power of wisdom in a particular person’s life such as Atticus Finch, Captain John Miller, or Will Kane, characters who live by a strong standard of right and wrong combined with the knowledge and skill to back it up. Other filmmakers show us wise mentors and teachers guiding their students on the path of life. Sometimes the wisdom comes from an outsider or, apparent, fool who teaches wisdom by the way they question what everyone else takes for granted. Others show wisdom in the lives of tragic wise men. Michael Corleone, Charles Foster Kane, and Eldon Tyrell have great gifts of skill and knowledge but pursue them to evil ends. Some like “Wise” Sir Bedivere even show us wisdom by its complete absence in their life and actions. At times wisdom comes through a journey as we follow the characters away from their home and daily context to new levels of insight into their lives. Some stay home but encounter wisdom as they face sudden changes in the world they thought they knew. Finally, some receive a wisdom that comes from outside their world.

The movies on the display included To Kill a Mockingbird, Saving Private Ryan, High Noon, The Godfather pt. 2, Blade Runner, Chariots of Fire, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Babbette's Feast and many others. It was a lot of fun to think about and put together.

On a completely unrelated note I discovered that I apparently think of work as "home." It's probably not a good thing that I think of that fact as more amusing than scary.


ann said...

That sounds like it was a lot of fun! I would be interested in seeing scripture references to support your points. I really liked the part about how people have access to wisdom because the world was founded on wisdom.

Why do you think it's a bad thing that you consider work home?

Everett said...

It's good to be comfortable and happy in your work. But to think of your job as your home seems to be crossing a dangerous line towards defining yourself by your work.