Recently, Time featured a cover story on director Kathryn Bigelow and her film, “Zero Dark Thirty.” If you have not seen the movie, it’s a tense and amazing story about the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
One of the surprising elements of the article dealt with the controversy over this film. Time cited it as the year’s most controversial movie.
There are legitimate areas of controversy regarding the film.
How accurate is the film to the hunt for bin Laden? Does the film promote a positive connection between unjust torture practices and the information gained to find bin Laden? Does the film in any way breech information that should be classified?
But the article focused mostly on this controversy: a film that looks head on at a current ethical crisis and, instead of giving a solid answer, engages a conversation with questions.
The writer of the article found this completely shocking. I don’t find this shocking because I think this is part of the very call of the church.
Growing up, the churches I attended did not always answer this call. They often avoided the political arena as well as questions that seemed to cause discomfort, questions that didn’t wrap up with a nice bow.
Everyone tried so very hard to be nice and, in trying to be nice, I believe we missed our calling to engage in moral, ethical reflection on the important issues of our day.
To engage current ethical crisis, to create conversations with legitimate questions, and to frame the conversation in light of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ is part of our calling as followers of Jesus Christ.
There are a lot of ethical issues being discussed:
â— The United Nations has begun an investigation into the use of drones while our government is trying to secure another base in Africa that could be used for drone bombs.
â— We are trying to find a solution to the problem of violence in our country and trying to protect losing any more innocent lives.
â— Immigration reform is on the news every evening.
â— We are dealing with an out-of-control financial system that must change before the middle class in America becomes a memory.
â— Even as I sit here typing, another news story flashes up on the screen about more lives lost in Syria in another massacre and a request for further funds to stop this escalating violence.
These are not only the issues of our day; they are simply our issues.
These are what we need to be talking about, praying about and fostering legitimate conversations about, including what is our role in these issues.
We are not all going to agree on the answer. That is part of the dialogue – different views and different conclusions.
Hopefully, what results are further discussions and further steps into following the call of Jesus Christ, which is ultimately the most important authority in all these issues.
I love that modern art is helping us to foster these conversations, and I hope that more filmmakers and artists begin to follow in Bigelow’s steps and take on the big issues.
But more than that, I hope the church responds by engaging the questions and bringing to the questions a bit of light and revelation of the one we worship.
As the brilliant theologian, Jürgen Motlmann, states, “theology has to be public theology: public, critical and prophetic complaint to God – public, critical and prophetic hope in God.”
Griff Martin is co-pastor of University Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, La.