Archives For invictus

One of the wittiest and most quotable movies of all time is Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975). It is a personal favorite and the most graphic scene in the movie is a sword fight between King Arthur and a stubborn black knight guarding a wee bridge. As the black knight loses a limb, Kind Arthur demands that he surrender. The black knight claims that losing an arm is “just a flesh wound” and continues the fight while King Arthur stands there bewildered. Watch the clip below for full amusement.

fleshwound-python-black-knight

Like the black knight, we are in a world full of walking wounded and in pain. The pain is a reminder that sin has plagued us and quite frankly I’m tired of the pain.

Thankfully there is hope in many places.

Psalm 23 provides great comfort in what lies ahead in heaven where there will be no more tears and no more pain or strife. But we are not there yet so why does pain exist beyond be a reminder of the fall? What does God teach us in pain? In the movie Invictus, there is a great exchange when Nelson Mandela asks Francois Pienaar, the South African Rugby Captain, about if  he was feeling 100% in preparation for the next match. Francois’ responded humbly that no one is ever 100% free from pain or injury.

It is the same in all things in life.

I am currently recovering from arthoscopic knee surgery to repair a torn lateral meniscus. It has been harder than I thought and my mind keeps wanting to push forward. My body still feels the pain though. Personally this past year has been wonderful and painful. Our family’s year has been full of the following:

  • My knee surgery.
  • My mother is awaiting a knee replacement.
  • My father has been battling a severe staph infection and is waiting on a hip replacement.
  • Brooke lost her grandmother.
  • We renovated our house and were fighting bumps and bruises for almost a year.
  • Our dog has ACL surgery and we have to literally pick him up to help him go to the bathroom outside.
  • My wife has had the painful duty of taking care of us all.
  • My previous job was painful and stressful and left me far outside of my comfort zone.

Too often pain tends to keep us focused on ourselves but when we stop to look around we see that we are not alone. In fact, I have many friends who are suffering much worse things like cancer, severe mental illness, greater physical injuries or have lost loved ones. We are surrounded by pain.

In the book, The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis, he points out the struggle.

“We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

He goes on.

“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken.”

Ultimately pain serves a purpose and we should be thankful for its purpose. If we had no pain, we would be home in heaven. But we’re not there yet.

Pain tells me that life is real.

Pain tells me that I need help.

Pain tells me that I need Christ.

Pain tells me that I’m not home yet and to keep pushing forward.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. – Matthew 5:43-45 ESV

In my Christian life, I have struggled with identifying who “my enemy” is and how to respond to them. Facing an enemy, I feel frustration, confusion, and hatred. These emotions can eat me up if gone unchecked. What do we do with this struggle of emotion?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer summed up how we deal with our enemies properly.

“The love for our enemies takes us along the way of the cross and into fellowship with the Crucified.”

As I read this quote from Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship against scripture, three portraits of reconciliation come to mind that help me work through reconciliation and suggest ways to love my enemies.

I pray they help you too.

1. Reconciliation after Apartheid

In the dramatic storytelling of the 1994 Rugby World Cup through the movie  Invictus (2009), we see the nation of South Africa struggling to overcome decades of abuse under Apartheid. Black South Africans had been persecuted for generations under the white ruling class. But a new president had come to power: Nelson Mandela. Mandela was an activist and then a prisoner under the old regime for twenty-seven years. But now he recognized that in order to bring the nation together, he must lead by example and embrace the mostly white rugby team in their quest for the cup. The nation would see white and black, former foes, all as newly united South Africans. And it could not have been done without courage and leadership by Mandela and the rugby team. Invictus is a beautiful portrayal on how a few with great courage can make such a difference.

Morgan Freeman as South Africa President Nelson Mandela shaking hands with South Africa Rugby Captain Francois Pienaar played by Matt Damon. Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Morgan Freeman as South Africa President Nelson Mandela shaking hands with South Africa Rugby Captain Francois Pienaar played by Matt Damon. Courtesy of Warner Bros.

2. Reconciliation after The American Civil War

On April 9th 1865, General Robert E. Lee of the Confederate States of America surrendered in Appomatox Courthouse, Virginia to General U.S. Grant of the Union forces. The fate was sealed for the Confederacy after four years of intense battle. Typically the conquered like Lee would be placed in prison, hanged, or publicly humiliated after defeat. But this name was like no other before it.

The American Civil War was one of the bloodiest in the history of mankind. Most of the south was destroyed, and there were over one million casualties, among these 650,000+ dead soldiers, and 50,000 dead civilians. Both sides had good reason to hate one another after four years of extreme bloodshed and destruction.

In the book April 1865 the author described Lee’s exit after agreeing to the terms of surrender. As he left the house of surrender, General Grant walked out after Lee with his staff and all saluted the famous General as he left. Lee was not to leave as one conquered, but as a man with dignity and honor. Other soldiers showed similar grace.

“Without having planned it-and without any official sanction (Joshua L.) Chamberlain suddenly gave the order for Union soldiers to “carry arms as a sign of their deepest mark of military respect. A bugle call instantly rang out. All along the road, Union soldiers raised their muskets to their shoulders, the solute of honor.”

Enemies had been made from smallest to greatest, from the smallest families and most rural communities up to the largest cities, the most prosperous states, and even to the nation itself. And now each one who fought as enemies needed healing. The time after The Civil War is known as “Reconstruction” but it should be called “Reconciliation”.

"The Last Offer of Reconciliation" courtesy of the Library of Congress

“The Last Offer of Reconciliation” by Kimmel & Forster, courtesy of the Library of Congress

3. Reconciliation through a Handshake

Described at the end of Unbroken, after Louis Zamperini spent years in prison being tortured by the Japanese he went back years later to visit his captors. The author noted,

“Before Louie left Sugamo (the prison), the colonel who was attending him asked Louie’s former guards to come forward. In the back of the room, the prisoners stood up and shuffled into the aisle. They moved hesitantly, looking up at Louie with small faces. Louie was seized by childlike, giddy exuberance. Before he realized what he was doing, he was bounding down the aisle. In bewilderment, the men who had abused him watched him come to them, his hands extended, a radiant smile on his face.”

Beautiful.

unbroken-cover_custom-s6-c10

Along with scripture, I encourage you to read these stories and watch these movies to better understand reconciliation. My faith is strengthened by these stories, and they have helped me to better understand how to love my enemies.

Your enemy may be a person in a far away culture, or it could be your next door neighbor. Consider offering that hand as Christ offered it to you through the cross.

Reconciliation is beautiful because Christ was the example of it on the cross.

For me. For you.

What does reconciliation teach you about your own faith? What stories teach you about reconciliation?

 

I believe that each moment in life requires a unique and inspirational movie. Other things can be inspirational. I find inspiration in life’s story, in my wife and kids, the Bible, hiking, traveling, or a great book. But nothing quite beats the perfect movie for life’s important moments. Movie heroes overcome great odds, and their stories inspire us to get up on our feet and do something spectacular!

Below is a list of my top ten inspirational films. I drew it up by narrowing down all the ones I could think of by category and then asking myself, “When I feel like (fill in blank), which movie will help?” The result is my arsenal of cinematic emotional motivators.

I hope it will also be helpful to you in your journey.

hollywood-sign-cloud

Top 10 Most Inspirational Movies

Big Fish (2003) (Living the dream, Pursuing the love of your life)

I first saw Big Fish when I was trying to compile a bucket list. It challenged me to keep thinking well beyond what is ordinary and to strive to always go deeper into the dreams I have inside of me. This life is a grand adventure, and God wants us to think big! And so, like Edward Bloom, I am learning to think bigger than my small pond.

Edward Bloom: There’s a time when a man needs to fight, and a time when he needs to accept that his destiny is lost… the ship has sailed and only a fool would continue. Truth is… I’ve always been a fool.

Roman Holiday (1953) (Becoming yourself/Adventure)

Roman Holiday is the perfect antidote for when I feel most constrained by everyday life. It is the story of a love affair between two strangers, a princess and a reporter. Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck are some of my favorite classic actors, and the film is an ode to beautiful Rome, one of my favorite cities in the world. Watching this movie makes me smile at the thought of how I can live a better adventure.

Dr. Bonnachoven: The best thing I know is to do exactly what you wish for a while.

Braveheart (1995) (Freedom/Adventure)

Although Braveheart is far from being historically accurate, it was spot on for inspiration. To watch it is to understand what it means to fight for someone or something you believe in. Braveheart had a big effect on me. I went on to learn more about Scotland and eventually moved there six years later.

William Wallace: Every man dies, not every man really lives.

We Bought a Zoo (2011) (Risk/Adventure)

I have shown some parts of the movie to my daughters so they could get a beautiful glimpse of what courage looks like. This quote captures the essence of not only the movie for most of Cameron Crowe’s films.

Benjamin Mee: You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.

Dead Poet’s Society (1989) (Risk-taking and the value of teaching)

I wrote about Dead Poet’s Society in an earlier post called Raising the Dead Poet’s Society. This movie reminds me that I should be a student of life. The students it portrays are young and eager for life. They are reminders that though I am now in my thirties, I should not lose their spirit. Similarly, the young men of Welton Academy fear failure in the face of their parents sometimes overwhelming expectations. And though today I do not fear the rejection of my parents, I still have fears of failure and often find myself timid and needing a talk from Professor Keating.

Professor John Keating to his students looking at alums from decades ago: They’re not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they’re destined for great things, just like many of you, their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because, you see gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? – – Carpe – – hear it? – – Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.

October Sky (1999) (Belief in yourself/Friendship/Father-son relationship)

I wrote about this movie in an earlier post called Being There as a Father in the October Sky. It is one of the best American stories set in the 1950s, and it reminds me that I should never stop dreaming and setting goals.ver stop dreaming and setting goals.

Homer (to his dad): Dad, I may not be the best, but I come to believe that I got it in me to be somebody in this world. And it’s not because I’m so different from you either, it’s because I’m the same. I mean, I can be just as hard-headed, and just as tough. I only hope I can be as good a man as you. Sure, Wernher von Braun is a great scientist? but he isn’t my hero.

Saving Private Ryan (1998) (Sacrifice)

I have a deep appreciation for our military and the sacrifice they make for ordinary Americans like you and me. Saving Private Ryan captures the service of our American military during World War II. It is an inspiration and a reminder to thank any soldier who has served or is currently serving in our military.

Sergeant Horvath: I don’t know. Part of me thinks the kid’s right. He asks what he’s done to deserve this. He wants to stay here, fine. Let’s leave him and go home. But then another part of me thinks, what if by some miracle we stay, then actually make it out of here. Someday we might look back on this and decide that saving Private Ryan was the one decent thing we were able to pull out of this whole godawful, shitty mess. Like you said, Captain, maybe we do that, we all earn the right to go home.

Chariots of Fire (1981) (Strengthening Faith)

This is another movie that captures the beauty of Scotland. I was a young Christian when I first saw Chariots of Fire, and it helped me understand what deep conviction looks like. It is a beautiful portrait of a man Eric Liddel loving his God first; thanking him for the ability to run; and rejoicing in the service of his country, Great Britain, and of his true and eternal King.

Eric Liddel: You came to see a race today. To see someone win. It happened to be me. But I want you to do more than just watch a race. I want you to take part in it. I want to compare faith to running in a race. It’s hard. It requires concentration of will, energy of soul. You experience elation when the winner breaks the tape – especially if you’ve got a bet on it. But how long does that last? You go home. Maybe you’re dinner’s burnt. Maybe you haven’t got a job. So who am I to say, “Believe, have faith,” in the face of life’s realities? I would like to give you something more permanent, but I can only point the way. I have no formula for winning the race. Everyone runs in her own way, or his own way. And where does the power come from, to see the race to its end? From within. Jesus said, “Behold, the Kingdom of God is within you. If with all your hearts, you truly seek me, you shall ever surely find me.” If you commit yourself to the love of Christ, then that is how you run a straight race.

Moneyball (2011) (Overcoming “the way it’s always been done”/business as usual)

As a businessman, I am in a daily battle analyzing what should and should not be done to achieve results. In an ever-changing business world, it is easy to sit in a corner and rely on a comfortable strategy. Anytime I feel stuck in what I am doing in business, I use this movie as a lesson to reject business as usual and take time to strategically think what really needs to happen. On top of that, I am a huge baseball fan, which makes the movie even more enjoyable.

Scout to Billy: We’re all told at some point in time that we can no longer play the children’s game, we just don’t… don’t know when that’s gonna be. Some of us are told at eighteen, some of us are told at forty, but we’re all told.

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) (Fatherhood/Honor)

Atticus Finch is a man of action eager to do what is just in the eyes of God. What man doesn’t want to be like Atticus Finch? As a father of two daughters, I think often about what it means to stand up for what is right. My children pay close attention to not only my words but, more important, my actions. Therefore, I am thankful to Harper Lee for creating such a wonderful character and to Gregory Peck for bringing that on-screen character to life.

Rev. Sykes: Miss Jean Louise. Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father’s passing.

Honorable mention: 

Rudy, Good Will Hunting, The Pursuit of Happyness, Invictus, Finding Forrester, Rocky, Jerry Maguire, The Way, and Say Anything. I am sure there are many more but these are the ones that stand out.

What are your top 10 most inspirational movies and why? 

Which ones stir your soul and make you want to act?

Yes, it’s that time.  It only happens every four years.  Yes, it’s the World Cup.  What do they call it?  Soccer?  Football?

Who cares, right?

Check this out first.

4 billion people will watch.  The Super Bowl averages around 100-110 million.  The Olympics averages around 247 million daily viewers.

The 2006 final between Italy and France attracted 715.1 million viewers, the largest single television event in history from what I’ve learned. The 2006 World Cup attracted a 26.29 billion non-unique viewers.

No comparison.

If you are an American reading this, you still may ask “Who Cares?”

Well to start, USA is a big underdog.  Countries with populations 1/10 the size of ours are picked to do better than us.  On June 12th, USA will face England for the first time in 60 years in a World Cup.  And yes, we beat them then!  In the USA, we are overwhelmed by so many sport choices so what is the big deal with soccer?  I grew up playing the game and continue to follow it as best as possible despite living in a town without a professional team.  The passion is there.

Years ago, I lived in Scotland and became friends with a German who was traveling there named Tobi.  We stayed in touch and I even visited him in Germany later that year.  We agreed to meet up to travel through the UK again a couple years after that.  Along that journey with other friends we met an amusing British guy named Curtis.  We all stayed in touch after our travels and agreed that the next time we’d meet would be in Germany 3 years later for the World Cup.  I became married in those years to Brooke and so the four of us traveled throughout Germany and we were fortunate enough to see Togo play South Korea.  It was an unbelievable experience and I cherish every part of it to this day.  The World Cup was what unified us that year.  Thank God our teams didn’t play each other, though.  But, on June 12th, Curtis and I most likely be speaking during that game.   Ultimately we all will be friends and are looking toward 2014 in Brazil to meet up again.

We begin our journey to Germany

A German, an American, and a Crazy Brit

The Scene

So far, this is the best video I’ve found capturing the spirit of the World Cup.

It’s not just about the World Cup.  It’s about the connection of cultures, making friends, and enjoying the adventure.

You may not play soccer and may never want to but you can’t deny what this sport has done as a bridge for cultures.

There are so many ways to use sport to connect and heal the wounds.  In Nashville alone here are a few:

Sports Servants: A great friend of mine Zac Hood took the courageous step to start up a Non-Profit called Sports Servants in 2005.  Zac recognized early on in his visits to Belize that the one unifying thing he could get kids to enjoy together was sport, and in particular, soccer.  It is what has brought together villages across northern Belize to enjoy.  Cultures have been brought together by this tremendous gift.

Nashville International Cup: Annually, a group meets comprised of Mexicans, Arabians, Hispanics, Kurdish, Sub Saharan Africans, Bantus, Asians, etc. to play a tournament.  90 players from 14 countries.  These are immigrants and some of them refugees coming to America for a better life.  It’s amazing because many of these people were enemies back home but are able to come together for the love of a common game.  This takes place today and tomorrow.

World Relief: A friend of mine, Karen Barnes volunteers with this tremendous group here in Nashville that provides assistance to immigrants and refugees.  You can read more about Karen’s experience in her blog about “Serving Refugees.” If you take a moment to look around your town, you will discover dozens of nationalities around you who need assistance.

So this next month, use The World Cup as a way in your community to connect with people other than your nationality.  Learn about their lives, invite them over for a meal, and if you will, go play a game on the pitch.

Here are a few other fun resources in celebration of The World Cup:

2010 World Cup Schedule

Top soccer Movies I’d recommend:  The Game of Their Lives/Miracle Match, Victory, Green Street Hooligans, Bend it like Beckham, or Fever Pitch.  There are many more but these always bring a smile.

Last but not least, the latest blog from Stuff White People Like will have you on the floor.