Monday, June 23, 2014

"The Fault in Our Stars" rated M 126mins

 WARNING Film Spoiler Alert... and the same language and ideas as used in the film
  It's a sunny June day here and the family are in Sydney where I was yesterday!! I had thought about which of a possible [3] UCA worships I might attend this morning and which I intuitively thought would be the most constructive in my work and how I was feeling after a few really busy days. Either way I will be enjoying the curating of a keen bunch at SLYM+ tonight...
   When I got organised this morning I knew I had no energy for turning up somewhere I would need to 'contribute' and instead chose to do something to renew and recharge my own spirit [and that would be helpful in the long run as inspiration].
   After sorting our urgent need to buy a new washing machine [the decline of our twenty year old one is another story] I wandered into the cinema just in time for early session of "The Fault in Our Stars."
   A reluctant reader I heard of the film before I knew John Green had reportedly sold more than 10 million copies of his 'young adult' story or that the company accidentally released pre-order copies early and people had responded well to Green's plea not to vilify the well meaning staff but to maybe not read the book until the intended date or talk about it until the next day.
   Seeing this film was the right choice and has my mind buzzing about it's themes, story and relevance to my own recent experiences and insights from conversations I've been part of in person and through social media.

The official film synopsis says:
"Hazel and Gus are two extraordinary teenagers who share an acerbic wit, a disdain for the conventional, and a love that sweeps them - and us - on an unforgettable journey.
Their relationship is all the more miraculous, given that they met and fell in love at a cancer support group. THE FAULT IN OUR STARS explores the funny, thrilling and tragic business of being alive and in love."

   It's a great story built around Hazel's favourite book, inspired by a young cancer sufferers story where it was the only thing she'd read that remotely reflected her own experience. The book finished mid sentence, leaving Hazel [and Gus after he read it] with lots of 'what happened' questions... They are eventually able to use Gus' 'wish' to travel to Amsterdam and find the reclusive author. It's a disappointing meeting but the sightseeing to the Ann Frank House is pivotal and beautiful in telling what it means to be living Hazel and Gus' lives. It's a turning point in their deepening relationship and a visual playing out of Hazel's life carting around an oxygen cylinder.
  The film wasn't perfect [15 mins too long represented in a few clunky scenes] but it wrestles with God, life, how everyone involved is impacted by the illnesses and even just the first 10 minutes or so could start a long conversation about the 'lightweight' support group facilitator 'in the heart of Jesus' at the local church.
   It reminded me of why I am a Youth Worker and how my vocation has been clear for over 30 years... walking alongside people... whether doing so well or in a pale attempt... the amazing warmth I feel every time I see a young person [or any person really] as they are and as the ball of potential they could be when I've met them... or the pain I feel seeing anyone hampered from being all they can be, through circumstances, disadvantage... or in this case illness. The last thing I want to do is 'blame' people or judge them...
I am and we should be inspired by Jesus encounters with:
The Woman at Simon's home "he looked at her and spoke to them"
The 'Bent Over' Woman
The Woman at the Well... the list goes on...

   It reminded me of the false, insular, fake, struggling imitation of authentic community the church sometimes is [and my place in that]... of earnest faithful people blinded by 'right belief' or so wrapped up in their own experience they can't see how the context has shaped them in ways they refuse to let it do for others... because that would be a different and wrong shape, unable to genuinely speak to or embrace those on the edge of their own circle, let alone those in the community literally bursting from the pain of life. It reminded me of the Jesus who saved his most vivid and angry criticism for the shallower corrupted, fearful, insular and pedantic religious leaders of his day. It reminded me that a prophetic 'good news' of compassion, love and grace needs to be seen to be lived out in faithful following of Jesus, not in some rarified theological 'wank' or the 'bullshit' some people sprout as truth... failing to see the exclusive judgemental outcome of their stance....
   It's the Dr Phil question, "how right do you want to be?" that he asks every family member, choosing what they know to be right, over maintaining relationship with those in their family. It reminded me to be thankful for wisdom and second chances and a love of God that simply will not give up on us. It reminded me that everything doesn't always end well and pain "is meant to be felt"!!
   Yes, I made the right choice of where I went on Sunday morning this week...


No comments: