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Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Eric Nenninger, Jack Maxwell, Chelsey Crisp, Nayo Wallace, Gregory Zarian, Mark Arnold, Tyler Neitzel, Dylan Sprayberry, Bobby Ray Shafer, Jeff Witzke, Renee Crawford
Reconciliation is a groundbreaking, provocative story about an estranged father and son struggling to overcome the heartbreaking consequences of their past.
Reconciliation (2011) | Review
Ask the Big Question
And what if you're on the other side of the equation—isn't it easier to avoid the issue by avoiding the person? What happens when you love a person so much, but the impact of their sin creates a gulf between you? "Love the sinner, hate the sin" is an easier concept to verbalize than to practice. Loving the sinner means getting involved in the lives of people who have hurt or offended you, and hating a sin often means unwanted confrontation.
It is with many of these issues lingering overhead that the movie Reconciliation makes its entrance. This film deals with only one of the big "no-no's" of conservative religions worldwide: homosexuality. Does the film present homosexuality as a sin? That is the first question you will ask, because you may be planning to approve or disapprove of the movie based on the answer. If it calls it sin, liberals will chalk it up to narrow-mindedness and bigotry. If it doesn't call it sin, conservatives will condemn the film for its liberalism and lack of spine. I went into it asking that question, and I beg you not to do that.
This film is not about categorizing sin, but moving beyond that childlike legalism into the hard business of loving people. Labeling something as sin gives us an excuse to quit trying to be like Christ. Whether we give up on moving toward personal holiness or believe the lie that because "the law" condemns something, we have a right to condemn the people who do it, it doesn't matter. Jesus never tolerated either kind of thinking.
Jesus knew the futility of humans trying to sort out what they want to call sin. God can always find one we've missed. He did not rank sins or exempt people for good behavior. He told the adulterous woman to go and leave her life of sin, and later turned to the pious religious leaders, calling them blind guides, a brood of vipers, and white-washed tombs. Rather, his focus was always on mending relationships between God and men. Out of all the many Jewish laws, he cited the two greatest commandments as love your God and love your neighbor. He set the bar higher than mere moral assessment requires.
I'm anxious to dive into the details of this movie, but I will wait until after it has been out a while. I don't want to spoil the fine, fine presentation of putting genuine homosexuals and genuine Christians in the same room for a good long talk. I will say this, however. This is the first faith-based movie I've ever been proud to associate with my faith.
First, in terms of general filmmaking, this movie was way above the bar. It dispensed with the religious heavy-handedness, cheesy lines, breaking the believability threshold, on-the-nose thematic statements, unnecessary dialogue, boring scenes, and really bad acting. We are finally seeing quality actors, writers and filmmakers cross over into the Christian genre. Hallelujah! It's about time! Writer/director Chad Ahrendt and producers Chris Jones, Keegan Wilcox, and Damon Zwicker deserve some kind of medal for this film, at least in my book. They put all the right pieces together to create a powerful film: a solid script with a hard message for everyone, an excellent crew, and a group of talented actors. Even seventy-five percent of secular films can't accomplish that combination. Of special note are actors Gregory Zarian (who plays Patrick) and Jack Maxwell (who plays Jeff McDowell). These guys were fantastic.
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