Clint Eastwood and Christ: A Reflection on “Gran Torino”

It’s amazing where you can find Christ.

In many respects, Clint Eastwood’s latest film, Gran Torino, is a bleak affair.  It tells the story of Walt, a traumatised Korean War veteran who deals with the pain of his memories by hiding behind a wall of crusty misanthropy and bitter racism.  Walt’s life is locked into a dead end of re-cycled routine – disguised as “discipline” and “orderliness” – and excessive drinking.  Even his family life has been infected: he is all but estranged from his sons and their families; and now that he is a widower, his life has been reduced to one of lonely isolation. Continue reading “Clint Eastwood and Christ: A Reflection on “Gran Torino””

Jonah 3: 1-5, 10

With popular culture, it’s often the case that its most enduring products tend to be those that receive the least fanfare when they first appear.  Film is a good example of this principle: blockbusters tend to come and go in rapid succession, but the films which stay with us tend to be “quiet achievers” – they win us over with the quality of their writing, filming, and acting rather than the hype which surrounds their release. Continue reading “Jonah 3: 1-5, 10”

John 1:43-51; 1 Samuel 3:1-10

The colourful Scottish comedian, Billy Connelly, while freely admitting that he doesn’t think much of religion, also confesses to being fascinated by American tele-evangelists, and in particular by their oft-stated claim to be in daily communication with God. In one of his shows, he summarised his feelings thus:  “These people say they talk to God and they get their own television shows and pots of money thrown at them – if I were to say I talk to God, I’d be put away so fast I wouldn’t have time to go home and get my pyjamas!” Continue reading “John 1:43-51; 1 Samuel 3:1-10”

Matthew 2:1-12

On New Year’s Eve, my wife Sandy and I were invited to a friend’s house to celebrate the arrival of 2009.  It wasn’t a large party, only about 40 people or so, but at one point in the evening, feeling that it was getting a little stuffy inside, I ventured out onto the veranda that ran along the rear of the friend’s house for some fresh air.  Now, the house is located on a hill on the eastern fringes of Melbourne, in an area of pleasant hills and nice views, and by this stage of the evening, dusk was well and truly setting: the sky was partitioned between a thin band of orange light over the horizon and a deeper swathe of night sky.  And looking up I saw a lovely sight: a large crescent moon, low in the western sky; and hovering over and just to the right of it, a single, large bright star. Continue reading “Matthew 2:1-12”

Luke 2:22-40

After last Thursday’s Christmas Day service, as Sandy and I were wending our way to the door, exchanging Christmas greetings with everyone, we were approached by a couple with three small children.  There was something vaguely familiar about the couple, something that told me I should know who they were – and yet no names leaped out of my subconscious, no bells in my memory rang to rescue me from my confusion. Continue reading “Luke 2:22-40”

Luke 1:47-55

 Earlier this week, The Age newspaper published an article that was really a thinly disguised publicity piece promoting a book written by one Catherine Deveny.  Ms Deveny, described in the article as a “broadcaster, comedian, and writer”, writes a weekly column for The Age, and the blurb accompanying the article asserted that she is “controversial and taboo-breaking”.  However, a more straight-forward assessment would be that Ms Deveny is print journalism’s equivalent of a radio shock jock: it’s her job to be provocative and controversial, but only in the negative sense of resorting to mean name-calling and brutal sarcasm in order to convey her opinions. Continue reading “Luke 1:47-55”