What a dystopian movie I watched last night. I didn’t catch the name–it was something like Evening News. It was a powerful commentary on what happens when empire uses religion to prop itself up. The opening image in the movie is a birds-eye view of a park in a marbled city. There are clouds of tear gas wafting above the park, and crowds of peaceful protesters running to safety. There is the sound of concussion grenades exploding. Cut to a close-up of a man gasping for breath, holding his stomach, where he’s been hit by a rubber bullet. Through the veils of tear gas, you can see a phalanx of black-suited riot police with their shields up, moving in on the panicked crowd.
The nation in the film is experiencing an uprising of thousands and thousands of people taking to the streets to demand justice for ALL the people instead of just for the ones who had historically claimed power. There is looting and burning and violence, and there are thousands upon thousands of peaceful protesters.
There is a shift to a scene of the nation’s autocratic ruler ranting about using any force necessary to quell the violence and looting. “We cannot allow the righteous cries and peaceful protesters to be drowned out by an angry mob,” he rants, and you realize that the violent gassing and dispersal of the crowd in the opening credits was of those very “righteous and peaceful protesters.”
Cut to the dictator (it’s not clear in the movie what to call him, but he seems kind of like a dictator) walking with his minions and ministers (they all seemed to be men in the world of this movie) past barricades and marble buildings to a house of worship on the edge of the park. He stalks up to the front of the church, lifts a Bible in his hand, smirks for the camera, and stalks off again.
I actually haven’t seen the end of the movie. It’s still going on. But it was a brilliant piece of cinematography. The soulless look in the eyes of the leader. The blatant use of religious symbols and spaces to attempt to give validity to the violent quelling of protest. The lies about protecting the very people they were at that moment violently removing from the park so the dictator could use the religious building like a movie set.
I’m not sure how it’s going to play out. The religious people have to see it now, don’t they? The soullessness, the way their beautiful Teacher is being used as an agent of the violence of empire.
Usually in these stories, the people, after their hundreds of years of oppressive rule, throw off the mighty arm of the empire and create a new and better reality in its place. Sometimes everything is destroyed and the new and beautiful thing is built from the ashes of the violent past. I’m going to keep tuning in.
1. The marchers in Lancaster yesterday, and Michelle Johnson who filmed it all for five hours, live. There were some powerful moments when the police chief was speaking, and people began to yell their pain and rage, and he just handed the bullhorn over and listened. He said he had to go to a meeting, and somebody yelled out that they were there to march because they couldn’t escape this reality, and he nodded his head, skipped his meeting, and joined the marchers.
2. I got two emails from students yesterday about the current national emergency. I am so grateful that they’re reaching out, that they’re thinking and processing and deciding what their role in this world should be. I’m so proud of them.
3. Snugglecats. Really, every household needs at least one cat. One of mine is snoring.
4. Hummingbird dipping into the petunia basket, a strand of cobweb held in her claws.
5. People are finding their voices in the midst of this. Keep articulating. Keep talking it through. Keep speaking up.
May we walk in Beauty!
“The women said feel how we are not open
fields waiting for their strike. They cannot not bury us
deep, call us things of war and be surprised
when we land mine.” —Kelly Grace Thomas
“The necessary thing is to be solitary, the way one was solitary as a child.” ―Rainer Maria Rilke
“Words are things, I’m convinced. They get in your wallpaper. They get in your rugs, in your upholstery, in your clothes, and finally, into you. We must be careful about the words we use.” ―Maya Angelou
“I’d rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief.” ―Gerry Spence
“Life is a lot more interesting if you are interested in the people and the places around you. So, illuminate your little patch of ground, the people that you know, the things that you want to commemorate. Light them up with your art, with your music, with your writing, with whatever it is that you do. Do that, and little by little, it might gradually get to be, if not a better world, then a better understood world.” ―Alan Moore