Monday, September 2, 2019

Welcome Back to School at Movie Churches

School Ties (1992)
It's strange to reach a time in life when the school year is no longer a part of my personal calendar. Even before I went to school myself, having my older brothers and sisters leave for school at the end of summer was a big deal. Every year that I went to school, the night before school started was so full of excitement and anxiety that I couldn’t sleep. During the couple of decades when I had kids of my own going off to school, my life was still shaped by the rhythm of the academic year.

Through the centuries, the Church took the lead in providing education. A major focus of the Reformation was education; Martin Luther was concerned that people should be able to read the Bible for themselves. The Catholic Church has provided education on every level for centuries.

Fortunately, most of the Christian schools depicted in film also have clergy, so these schools are fair game for Movie Churches. Sadly, some of these “Christian” schools we'll be watching this month aren’t very Christian. (We have looked at Movie Church Schools before.)

St. Matthews, the prep school that provides the location for School Ties, is an example. The film opens with students in chapel singing “Crown Him with Many Crowns.” The students are then addressed by a school official assuring them of the nobility of their school tradition. They conclude with the Lord’s prayer.

The theme of the film is anti-semitism in the 1950s, but the film was made in 1992. Not exactly cutting edge. In the movie, the school's very wealthy students treat the new star quarterback, David Greene (Brendan Fraser), as a hero until they learn he is Jewish. When Charlie Dillon (Matt Damon) accuses him of cheating, people believe the charges because, well, David’s Jewish.

The other students are angry David didn’t tell them he was Jewish. When David asks his roommate why he didn’t mention his religion, his friend says, “I’m Methodist. But Jews, everything about them is different.”

The school administrators are uneasy about having a Jewish student, but they are trying to move into the future. A priest meeting with administrators says about David, “You represent the best of what we think of as St. Matthews student.” It doesn’t seem, though, that the priest or faculty have been full-throated in speaking out against prejudice.

Christians who are prejudiced against Jews have always baffled me. The Church was all Jews when it began. All the Apostles and Paul were Jewish. And Jesus, well, as I said, it baffles me.

So St. Matthews receives a meager Two Steeples for our Movie Church rating.

No comments:

Post a Comment