by Tim West | March 5, 2018
The Oscars were on TV last night. This event is like the Super Bowl for Hollywood. In times past, I would love to stay up and watch it. You know, in the days when Billy Crystal and Steve Martin hosted. These days, it has become SO political; I just care not to watch. I don’t mind politics, but when it gets extreme (either way), I tend to tune out because the truth does not usually exist in the extremes. The ratings for the Oscars have been sliding for years, so maybe I’m not alone in my sentiments.
At any rate, there are some pleasant surprises. Since the debut of this cultural phenomenon in 1927, only two films with overt Christian/faith-based virtue have ever won: Ben Hur in 1955 and Chariots of Fire in 1981. One might add Schindler’s List (1993) to the list as well. This is not to say that some great movies with important themes haven’t made the list. For example: 12 Years a Slave (2013), Slumdog Millionaire (2008), and Ghandi (1982).
Nonetheless, one performance emerges from the myriad of opinion and speculation in this year’s Oscars race (which I did not watch but read about this morning). It was Gary Oldman’s depiction of Winston Churchill—for which deservedly won an Oscar.
“The Darkest Hour” is a cinematic blockbuster depicting the fate of England in the face of the onslaught of Hitler and the Third Reich. It presents Churchill’s dilemma on how to save his nation when the Germans are about to annihilate English troops near Dunkirk. More than just a historical masterpiece, The Darkest Hour shows leadership in the face of certain defeat. It reminds me of Moses after the 12 spies return home with the news that the Promised Land. Here’s a paraphrased version (Numbers 13:1ff).
Spies: Folks, the good news is that land is really awesome. The bad news is that we can’t have it because the people there are too big and strong.
Joshua/Caleb: Wait a minute. We can do this.
Spies: Dudes (I think this word is in the original Hebrew), you don’t get it; they’re like the Dwayne the “Rock” Johnson and we’re like Chris Rock!
Sometimes, we see our world through this same lens. But as I sat in the darkened movie theater, I wondered what the section of the speech “Blood, Toils, Sweat, and Tears” might say if he were speaking to the spiritual battles we face as the people of God. Here’s what I came up with for your consideration.
“I write to you today to set in print the circumstances facing our movement. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months and years of struggle and possibly suffering in order to apprehend the fullness of the dream God has given to this movement. You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, in our homeland and abroad; it is to wage war by getting our hands dirty in the sea of human sin and by using the airwaves to announce Jesus is the Subject. We will do this with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny known as Satan, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human delinquency. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival. We will—we must—take back what Hell has stolen for eternity’s sake. This and this alone is the victory!”
And that’s all I’ve got to say about that! (Forrest Gump, 1994)