In keeping with my last entry about a pop culture exploration of theology, here's some theology you can dance to. It's not like I ever forget that Depeche Mode is one of my all-time favorite bands, but if I ever did, the fact that Martin Gore wrote a catchy dance tune about the dark night of the soul would remind me.
March 2010 Archives
So, I watched A Serious Man recently. I started it Thursday and finished it Friday. I liked the first hour.... and then I got irritated, and cut it off for a while. When I came back to it the next day, I was really impatient. What the hell is going on, I wondered? and when is whatever's going on, just going to END?
I admit there were moments along the way I really loved, elements I thought were great. I really liked Michael Stuhlburg, the actor who played Larry Gopnik. I LOVED Mrs. Samsky. I thought Sy Ableman was a wonderfully horrible character. I enjoyed the references to F Troop, which I vaguely remember liking when I was a little girl. I loved when the rabbi started quoting Grace Slick at the end. And there was something about the look of the film that I found quite compelling.
But the end? I had heard that it didn't really have an end, that it just STOPPED. And sure enough, it didn't really have an end; it just stopped. I was so irritated that I cut it off before the credits, which I typically watch.
And then, about ten minutes later, the meaning of the ending hit me, and I just started laughing, because I got it, and because it was perfect. I have been thinking about it all day, remembering the entire movie in a different light, and now I wish I hadn't already sent it back to Netflix so I could watch it again.
If you haven't seen the movie and don't want to read any spoilers, don't click on the "continue reading" link. Instead, just watch this terrific cartoon version of Job:
but if you want the details of the epiphany I had about the end, read on:
I was a child both dutiful and resolute. If I started a book, I finished it. If I received a letter, I answered it. If I said I'd be somewhere, I showed up--on time.
This felt so natural and necessary that it seemed like the natural inclination of my own heart. Whether it was or wasn't, my sense of urgent obligation was supported and fed by my mother's firm belief--which she still lives by--that when you make your bed, you have to lie in it.
It all became more urgent and obligatory in adolescence, when I first encountered the scriptural command to "endure to the end." It shows up in the New Testament, but for reasons I never fully understood, as it set them apart from rather than brought them closer to other Christians (OK, I guess that's the reason), Mormons prefer to emphasize passages in their own scripture that use this phrase, like some passages from the Book of Mormon. (I'm not in a mood to look them all up and link to them. Just google the phrase if you don't believe me. You'll probably turn up this weird page featuring a ring designed by some Osmond.)
Anyway, the point is, this personal moral obligation I felt suddenly became religious. It wasn't just something I had to do because I was wired that way; it was something I had to do to please God. So I did it all the more.