Saturday, March 4, 2017

"Fences," "Lion," Free Will, Unfree Will And Psychedelic Medicines

Image result for fences movie

Dear M,

My immediate reason for writing is to send you the following link, parts of which I think you'll enjoy.

Why Do People Fast During Lent: "The Habit Of Perfection," Gerard Manley Hopkins S.J.


Last night I saw a "double bill" at Durham's Wynnsong Cinema - "Lion" and "Fences."

The former is a true story in which the "the real people" make an appearance at the end of the movie a la McFarland USA. (If you have not seen McFarland USA, it is a remarkable movie, a Disney production (!?!) powerful enough to change a significant number of bigoted minds. Or so I believe...

I was surprised and delighted by the first half of "Lion" which tracks a long, bewildering journey across India from a young boy's point of view. This "kid's-eye vantage" is unusually grounded and revelatory of how "the poor people" we seldom see actually live.

The second half of "Lion" starts in "a whole other world" wherein we witness the huge, slowly-swelling psychological upheaval of bringing these two worlds together. 


"Fences," which closely follows the text of the eponymous play written by August Wilson in 1985, stars Viola Davis and Denzel Washington.

If you are fond of Denzel -- who stars in "Fences" while also directing it -- I recommend you see "Fences" first. 

This remarkable "family story" is true to a play written by August Wilson in 1985 - part of his "Pittsburg series."

Fences' combination of joy, sorrow, heartbreak, "the haunting past," continual struggle and unexpected-but-completely-real outcomes is strikingly honest --- especially for an American movie. 

In addition to the pleasure of watching Denzel "at work," we are treated to Viola Davis' extraordinary Oscar-winning performance as Denzel's wife. 

Creativity And Salvation: Viola Davis' Best Actress Acceptance Speech

Although many may consider my next observation of little (or no) consequence, I was particularly struck by how "Fences" spotlights what I have come to consider a major shortcoming of Christianity, i.e., the church's over-valuation of The Will. 

Unlike the orthodox view, it is clear to me that we are - to one significant extent or another - the product of our genes, our personal history, our national/cultural history, our childhood conditioning and what I will call "accidents" to avoid a much larger discussion of "providence, synchronicity and even the possibilty that "total randomness" may be a subset of "the divine milieu."

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin SJ: "Research As Adoration"

Inter-relatedly, I will mention my recent realization that I have completely changed my mind about mind-altering pharmaceuticals which, when I was young, I considered a "cheat" but now -- at least in many dire situations -- I see as a great blessing for their ability to end "eternal torment." (If used without lengthy preparation and guidance by knowledgeable, well-practiced healers, psychedelics can also cause "eternal torment.")

I hope these ramblings bring you pleasure - perhaps a measure of joy.

As always, please give my warmest wishes to Crystal



PS Thinking about the nitty gritty ways that "Lion" and "Fences" introduce us to "dark-skinned" worlds, I recall the strong feeling I had while watching "Lion" (and to a lesser degree during "Fences") that a "new cinema" is being born in which drama is made at the edges, at the interface, at the hybridizing junction and increasingly permeable membrane of cultures. 

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