Thursday, October 3, 2013


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Last week I went with a friend to see the movie Prisoners. It's a very intense movie and not exactly family fare. But a couple of things stood out that were worth sharing in this space.

For those of you who are not familiar, here is a brief plot summary:
When Keller Dover's daughter and her friend go missing, he takes matters into his own hands as the police pursue multiple leads and the pressure mounts. But just how far will this desperate father go to protect his family?
The first thing that was striking, really disturbing, was watching the lengths to which Keller (played by Hugh Jackman) would go. I think we can understand it, and those of us with children certainly can, But as I watched the evolution of the character from a grieving father to someone who was so desperate that  nothing - and nobody - else mattered, I could see what evil does to us if we let it. The forces against which Keller Dover was fighting were as dark as they come. But evil is insidious - it wins by transforming us into itself even as we fight it.

As I watched, I was reminded of Mr. Jackman's most recent acting effort, Jean Valjean in Les Miserables.  In that performance, he played a character where the opposite happened. Valjean encountered an ultimate display of grace and forgiveness shortly after being released from prison, and it changed his life. The two films released in less than a year gave Jackman a chance to show both sides of the coin - how giving in to grace or to evil can determine your path.

There was a scene about halfway through the movie that pretty much defined the theme. A priest who had encountered a notorious child murderer quoted the murderer as uttering this phrase: "I'm waging a war against God." And he was. Not just by doing evil things, but by doing things that would cause people to question God's goodness and to respond with hate. This is how evil has always waged war on God. How do we beat it? Not by responding in kind, but by putting into practice the words of Romans 12:21 (Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.)

Prisoners. The movie title referred to the children. And to the alleged perpetrator that Keller tortured. But it also, I believe referred to Keller and to all of us who allow allow evil to capture us in its web. What do I allow to imprison me?

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