12:04:34 pm on
Friday 20 Oct 2017

Tolerance
AJ Robinson

These days, as society becomes so polarized, a little tolerance on all sides would be nice. I remember, as a child, seeing some of the religious-themed movies that Hollywood produced; films such as the Ten Commandments and Ben-Hur. These movies had religious content, but they were, for lack of a better term, even tempered; balanced. The religious message didn't overwhelm the story and become preachy.


Films with a religious bent are mostly imbalanced, today.

Not anymore, it's practically impossible to find movies offering a balanced perspective. We either get a story so "sanitized" that it barely mentions God, faith or anything else. Alternatively, the face with the message slaps us in the face.

I remember seeing the ads for the new Ben-Hur and wondering why anyone would remake such a classic. When I saw it, I was impressed with some of the technical elements and I liked the reconciliation scene at the end, but the finale. His mother and sister cured of leprosy made no sense.

Not only did the cure come out of left field and the story cleansed, completely, of religion. How do you tell that story without religion? The remake of Ben-Hur was a flop.

On the other hand, the films Exodus: gods and kings and Noah have a God, but not the God we're used to seeing. That God was not the God I learned of in Sunday school, either. Neither movie did well.


Then there was Soul Surfer.

Soul Surfer is a delightful film. It a true story, well based on a true story, of a young woman, living in Hawaii, and she loves to surf; hence the name. One day a shark attacks her. She loses her left arm. She nearly died and the incident shook her faith in God. She and her family were religious.

The producers tried to “de-religion” Soul Surfer. In one scene, when she’s recovering, in the hospital, her father sits next to her and reads the Bible, which is expected. I read where the studio asked for removal of the book title, digitally, so no one would know what he was reading. There were objections and the expunged title returned. Here was a film about a person of faith that was balanced and reasonable, yet there were efforts to purge it. This is disgraceful!

Then there are the movies that go the other way. Two of the God's Not Dead movies aim squarely at the conservative Christian market. I found the second God's Not Dead on Netflix and it was exactly as I expected. The film told the target audience exactly what they wanted to hear: they’re the reasonable ones, they suffer persecution, on almost a daily basis and they’re the ones in the right. I’ve also seen other films, such as the original Left Behind and a slew of movies about the End Time and Armageddon. Some were actually quite interesting as they sought to tie the event to an international thriller or murder mystery, but almost all of them tended to be far too preachy and ostensibly intolerant.


Can’t we all learn to show each other just a modicum of tolerance?

I’ve always believed in a little balance to life. I tried to do that in my children’s book Lexa and the Gordian Maze of Terra and its sequel. In the first book, the characters visit an all-faiths church and I acknowledge that some people on Terra are religious. In the second book, the characters celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah and Ramadan. Lexa, the main character, helps to set up a manger scene. I don’t preach about any of these events, I merely mention them and point out the different faiths of the main characters. I even invented a holiday for a group of aliens, which gave me the freedom to do anything I wanted. My aim was to point out the need for one simple thing: tolerance.

 

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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