As many of you know I am an avid reader, and through no fault of my own (insert my husband in the blame box here), a major financial donor to Hollywood.
There are a few great movies that come along which actually take the intensity, intellect, history, humor, and artistry of a good book, play, or moment in history and turn it into an even better movie.
Frost/Nixon is one such movie.
It shouldn't be, but it is. I mean really, who wants to sit around and relish the Richard Nixon days a little more? He was conniving, but interesting? Hardly. And Watergate was scandalous, but come on, we've had Bill Clinton and his cigars; Dick Cheney and his very rich cronies soaking up lucrative government contracts; a governor selling off a senate seat; and the complete fall of Wall Street and our financial system guided by people who are still making five million dollar bonuses this year! Watergate hardly seems that scandalous anymore. Case in point: a movie about a mostly failed presidency, mild scandal, and a single interview by some guy from Britain doesn't sound like a Christmas special to me.
But it is! This movie actually works. It is intense and connects emotionally on so many levels. You want the reporter who is taking a chance and risking his career to succeed. You get wrapped up in his mission and goal. You wonder how you can get Nixon. And in the same moment, something inside of you has to hurt for Nixon. A strange empathy is born in you for a man who screwed up with the whole world watching and judging him. You literally sit there listening to these interview sessions, which are brilliantly acted and scripted, and you forget to breath sometimes. These two men are intense, they are both on a mission, and they are both equally fighting for your empathy.
As Ryan and I left the theatre we both felt a bit sad. Ryan always surprises me with his compassion for people. The first thing he said about the movie was, "I feel bad for him. Thank God we don't get what we deserve."
What we Deserve
People wanted justice. They wanted punishment. They wanted Nixon to get what he deserved. I get that. When we are wronged, we want that wrong to be made right. When we are violated, we want to make sure it cannot happen again. When people chose to go against the laws of humanity and society, we want them to suffer the consequences for breaking that natural order and choosing lawlessness. We don't want them to get a pardon.
I have never had to deal with someone in my family being raped, killed, or otherwise violently violated. My dad assures my sisters and I that if this ever happens to us, he will kill the person who did it, and gladly live out the rest of his days in jail. How could you feel otherwise if you've been hurt? So it is with caution (and ignorance) that I meekly suggest that no matter what sin has been dealt against us, no matter who the perpetrator: thank God we don't get what we deserve.
My hope is that we each take a minute to step back and reflect on the fact that the coming of the Christ Child we celebrate this week was ultimately for a pardon to be given: to all people, for all things.
Justice isn't quite as beautiful and fulfilling as I always imagined.
Because ultimately, the person who has received their due justice is, at heart, still a human being with a soul. Though they may never show it, it is there. Though they may never offer remorse, something is there. To watch someone like Nixon fight his own demons and look his own failure in the face, to know the depths of his brokenness, the degree to which he was hated, and to watch him go down was not as liberating as I had hoped for. It was sad. But hey, this is coming from the girl that also cried for three days straight after Saddam Hussein was hung while people all over the world watched it on the internet.
Saddam was evil and he was a murderer, but still, I believe he was known, loved, and grieved for by the very God he fought against. To me, his brokenness and his consequences weren't a victory, they were just a sad reminder that we have fallen so far from what God intended for us to be. I did not rejoice in his death, I mourned it. It simply reminded me of how dark the world can be. And no amount of justice changed that.
(Is this the Christmas-warm-fuzzies-blog you were hoping for yet?)
A Christmas Card
Our pastor sent out an email this week wishing us a Merry Christmas. But it was a strange letter. He told us about a Christmas card that was beautiful on the front, with the Christmas passage from Luke in a perfect font reading, "The day will dawn on us from high." But when you opened the card there was a black and white picture of kids with swollen bellies in a slum and the card read in a stark black and white, "To give light to those that sit in the darkness and in the shadow of death. Luke 1:79"
What kind of person sends that Christmas card out? And how do you possibly put that up next to the Santa Clause cards and ever popular Christmas cards with montages of peoples faces and animals. "Look kids, Aunt Sally sent us a picture of her and the kids and the dog, and here's a cute card that has glitter with Santa and all the reindeer, oh, and here are all the kids dying in darkness in Africa."
Not really the kind of Christmas card I'm hoping for. Sort of makes me want to put it in a separate room from all the presents just so the kids in the card can't see what I'm doing in my cute little American apartment. That card is like the little cricket that stands on Pinocchio's shoulder and makes him aware all the time. And seriously, it's Christmas, who wants to be aware of such things as darkness?
But my pastor said this in response to that card, "We only appreciate the glory of Christmas if we're aware of how dark a Christ-less world would be."
And that has shaped my thinking this Christmas.
Thank God we don't get what we deserve. We succumb to darkness. We have seen how far people can fall. And we have seen human justice come and go with little lasting impact for the criminal or the person seeking a price for their head. Thank God we don't get what we deserve. Thank God human justice isn't the answer. Thank God the glory of Christmas is not just about a baby, but rather, about light coming into our dark.
It is not too late for this to be a holy season, a holy week for each one of us. The light of Christ should shine bright this week. We should worship as we never have. Rejoice in what this week ultimately means... light. Light has come.
I am with my whole family playing board games, eating way too much, debating politics, and having a typical Chisolm family Christmas... but somewhere in the midst of all of this I keep asking God to remind me of Himself. To remind me of joy. To remind me of light. To help me have a few moments this week to truly fall on my knees and worship the God who sent a little baby into a dark world so that we did not have to get what we deserved.
To make me aware of the dark so I can truly be awe-struck by the glory of the Light. That is what I really want this Christmas.
Merry Christmas friends. Rejoice in the light this week.