Gone Baby Gone

I’m about to ruin the amazingly surprising ending of Gone Baby Gone.  If you haven’t seen it yet and you plan on it, I’d encourage you to go read something else.  It’s a very bleak movie.  Especially if you have trouble watching and thinking about abused, endangered, and murdered children.  So spare yourself if your sensetive.

It’s also quite amazing.  And theologically important.

The main character quotes scripture and mentions his priest’s words in a positve light.  And he is this incredibly moral character in his own way.

He swears.  He shoots at people.  I don’t think that they clarify whether the women he lives with and sleeps with is his girl friend or his wife.

Yet… (This is probably going to annoy some people) he’s a better Christian than just about any figure I can think of in a movie, ever.

The movie centers around a little girl who appears to be abducted by a drug dealer.  The mom is established as a horrible person.  It eventually becomes clear that she was actually kidnapped by the character played by Morgan Freeman.  He’s established as a brave, kind figure.  A perfect dad.

Nearly everyone in the movie is quite happy with this arrangement.  Except the main character.  He gets it that it’s wrong.  No matter how good the outcome is.  Despite the outrage of basically everyone, the main character blows the whistle.  He returns the little girl to his rightful mother.  Brilliantly, the movie doesn’t give us much reason to think she’s changer her ways.  She’s still drinking and spiteful and more interested in going out than taking care of her daughter.

The main character loses his significant other.  He seems to know that there are all kinds of ways the life that the Morgan Freeman character offers her is the better life.  But this doesn’t make it right.

And so I find myself wondering:

Would I have the courage to do the right thing in his place?  If I knew the little girl’s life would be better if I do the wrong thing?  If I knew the Morgan Freeman character would go to jail?  If I knew that my life would leave me?

What about you?  What would you do?


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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