Thursday, February 25, 2010

My Momentarily Definitive Coen List: #13, 12 & 11

13. The Ladykillers.

   Fellas, a remake, really?  At least they kill off most every character.  Bloodshed makes the film world go round!

12. Blood Simple.

 Well played, sirs.  Using the old, Shakespearean device of bad communication to wreak havoc on the plans of limited protagonists always works to cloud the straight-edged plot arc.

 Apparently "Blood Simple" was coined as a term that refers to "...the addled, fearful mindset people are in after committing murder." (  So, that's pretty neat.



Good stuff.  Yep.  It was funny.  I laughed.  Hmm... I guess I don't have anything to offer on this one.  Uh, look over here! Quotes!  Everybody loves a good quote-fest!

Biology and the prejudices of others conspired to keep us childless. 

And this here's the TV. Two hours a day, either educational or football, so you don't ruin your appreciation of the finer things.

This whole dream, was it wishful thinking? Was I just fleeing reality like I know I'm liable to do? But me and Ed, we can be good too. And it seemed real. It seemed like us and it seemed like, well, our home. If not Arizona, then a land not too far away. Where all parents are strong and wise and capable and all children are happy and beloved. I don't know. Maybe it was Utah.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

My Momentarily Definitive Coen List: #14

The Coen. Brothers need not my praise.  They're minds have brought forth two best picture winners, and a slew of fantastic adventures spanning three decades.  Ranking their films (rather arbitrarily, I might add) simply gives me an excuse to spend some well-valued time inhaling their majesty.

You know, for kids!

No, Norville, I don't know.

I'm not sure who this film is for.  I've been told that The Hudsucker Proxy is chalk full of references to films from the thirties and forties.  Clearly there's some Buster Keaton as well as Modern Times action slipping in there.  The art design is elegant and vast.  Paul Newman is a perfectly sordid villain.  And the cinematography is just sparkling.  But for what?  What's the point here, folks?

In my likely unwelcomed opinion, Proxy fails to be greater than the sum of its parts.  For the pedestrian film, the fun varnish would be enough to satisfy my retinas, but these are Bros!  We're supposed to be able to chew on the films curds for days post-experience.

I'll make an unfair comparison now.  The Hudsucker Proxy reminds me of the lukewarm Christian.  The lukewarm creation bobs around, in and out through various (admittedly amusing) life events, seemingly never fully aware of its being, and ceases to exist one day.  And yet, because of the "Christian" tag, the lukewarm individual is able to splice his life-events with all these spiritual verbiages.  The third act of Proxy suddenly involves a God and Satanesque battle that is never explained or made relevant.  If you're going to go all meta on me, if you're going to tailor yourself a Christian, then go the whole distance.  Buy into the concept.  Why the hell are these spiritual dudes suddenly concerned with the earthly fate of Norville Barnes?

I can say that I just don't get The Hudsucker Proxy.  I could say that, but that wouldn't necessitate its inclusion as my least favorite Coen Brothers' flick.  What does necessitate its existence here is that not only do I not get the film, but I don't even know what I don't get.  It's not an known unknown.  It remains an unknown unknown.

The Coen Brothers, with all the polish their films always have, tend to hold me back at arm's length.  I am interested, intrigued, and envious of these characters in a zoo that they show me, but I rarely actually feel that I myself could walk through the cages and play house with the animals.  The characters and I remain wholly apart.  Proxy is no exception, yet at this zoo the lines I have to wait in to get a decent view of the specimens are just too tedious for me.  There's too much in the way.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Film Review Movement

Roger Ebert lives up to his reputation as the only film critique to win the Pulitzer Prize.

Admittedly, I am not well read when it comes to quality film reviewers.  I can claim no advanced knowledge or particular study into the subject matter.  This being said, I have noticed a trend away from the artwork of the likes of Roger Ebert toward the shallow stream-of-consciousness blabs ala the boys over at

Why write about film?  I see two reasons:

1) To inform potential viewers into what avenue they should spill out their income.

2) To explore philosophical, social, psychological. and emotional themes that can be addressed in art more satisfyingly than in algorithm. 

For those of us not employed by outlets with early screeners, we have little excuse.  Let's use our intellect to dig tunnels of connection between film and life, rather than resigning ourselves to primal reactions.  Let's be something more than beings of mere reaction.

For these reasons, for what it's worth, I desire to buck the trend.  The focus of my writing on film shall be about myself the viewer as the vehicle by which I can come to meet a movie at some mental interstate.  What previous experience I bring to a film penetrates my relationship with that film unrelentlessly.  What I seek to explore is my internal relationship with the ideas that each film flashes before my eyes.  Can a nuanced film experience redress or redefine my own life monologue?

All films somehow address the biggest question of all: what am I here for?  Let's continue that conversation on the macro scale before we limit our vision.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The 9 Most Influential Films of My Life: #1

When I first viewed Jesus Christ, Superstar I was a happy guy.  I found it a curious oddity, and left it at that. 

  I am the youngest of five children.  As I aged, I witnessed the decisions my older siblings were making.  I had the privilege of seeing them live their lives first.  I also took note of a predominant pattern.  One by one, my siblings finished high school, went to some form of undergraduate study, fell in love, and married shortly after graduation.  This was a life formula that my four siblings all embraced, the same system my parents enlisted in years prior that made my existence possible.  I was smart, I had friends, I had passion, I had religion; there was no reason why the pattern would stop with me.

When I first watched Jesus Christ Superstar, I was sure my life was following the formula.  I was happy to follow this paradigm.

 When I started to watch Jesus Christ, Superstar on a daily basis three months later, my paradigm was in shambles.  In my heart I was ignoring a great tide of resentment mounting against my family and anyone else who got to live the life that I now saw as taken from me.  Everyone else was getting what I rightly deserved.  I was last in the line of the Stack lifestyle, yet I was being shunned by God, I reckoned.

Okay, bad stuff happens -- I've understood this from an early age.  What I didn't understand was how God, my Father, could let me wallow in my self-pity and pain when I called upon his name.  I prayed for many things, but most of all, that in my suffering He would make Himself known.

 When God didn't respond to my prayers with a divine intervention, 
my pain became despair.
When Jesus didn't sit next to me on a bench and explain everything, 
loneliness became my best friend.
When the Holy Spirit didn't indwell me with a sense of comfort, 
I made doubt my ally.

Depictions of Jesus of Nazareth, the Savior from the line of David, who was born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem, tend to follow the same pattern.  As successful as The Jesus Film (and God bless that project, as it has been a great vehicle to bring droves of needy people to know their Savior) has been for sharing the Gospel, it has epitomized in my mind a traditionally stoic depiction of Jesus.  He seems humorless and otherworldly.  He somehow doesn't seem invested in this world.

Jesus Christ, Superstar was made by folks who appear to not believe that their subject actually overcame death in the form of resurrection.  Yet as I lay wallowing in my own filth and depression, their depiction of my Redeemer was saving me from a complete withdrawal from the faith.

As I was depressed, my ever wrenching question became, "God, do you love me at all?"  It seemed He either didn't care for His suffering son, or He didn't exist.

Jesus, the one and only Superstar, screams with such raw emotion that no one can doubt His passion.  His stratospheric bellows of song ripped through my body like a hurricane.  This was the God I wanted to attach myself to, this was the man I wanted to die serving.  Why God chooses not to heal some wounds will be a mystery until the next life, but to be given such a succulent, tangible expression of his love and passion was enough to keep my faith above water.  Amidst that devastating storm in my life, Jesus Christ, my passionate, emotional, advocating Superstar, was my snorkel.  He remains as such to this day.

 How great it is to be loved so much, by so mighty a God.  This is the only pattern I need follow.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The 9 Most Influential Films of My Life: #2

Leave me alone.  
I cannot leave alone a soul in pain.
Do you know who I am?
It makes no difference. All men are equal in God's eyes. 
 Are they? ... Are they?
Smoldering in its extravagant exoskeleton, under those ridiculous wigs, lies the devil.  The genius of "Amadeus" is that it does an excellent job of pretending to be a period drama, while it really is nothing short of a horror blazed on film.

As I stood there understanding how that bitter old man was still possessing his poor son even from beyond the grave, I began to see a terrible way I could finally triumph over God.

Our protagonist is not the obnoxiously rude Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, but the hard working, professional composer, Antonio Salieri.  A moving moment in the first act of the film shows an aged Salieri playing his most famous bits of music to a Priest who is present only to hear the old man's confession.  The Priest doesn't recognize any of Salieri's works.  His music is dying with him.  Soon no one will ever listen to the works of Antonio Salieri.  His efforts at immortality have failed.  And yet, the second he pounds a few chords on the piano of Mozart, the Priest lights up with recognition.

The name Amadeus is the latin form of the Greek Theophilus, which translates to "Beloved of God".  Mozart is Amadeus, Salieri is not.  And so the awful game of jealousy commences.

This film terrifies me because the world it envisions is an utterly tragic kingdom.  I mentioned in my last post (#3 on the countdown) that our world is broken.  Well, that's still true, but the good news is that it is in the process of being redeemed.  Our God is a good and just God.  He will save us who cry out, and perfect our broken souls.  But in "Amadeus" lies the most vile of ideas; an idea whose presence mocks all of creation if it be true.  It is a perilous journey to look down that path, but when we do, we are brought to places that have smashed souls to bits.  What if God is not good?

Lord, make me a great composer. Let me celebrate Your glory through music and be celebrated myself. Make me famous through the world, dear God. Make me immortal. After I die, let people speak my name forever with love for what I wrote. In return, I will give You my chastity, my industry, my deepest humility, every hour of my life, Amen. 

Once I prayed from a dark place.  I waited there, and when the Lord did not come to comfort me, a choice came in my mind.  'God doesn't love me, for if he did, he would comfort his sorrowful child in his suffering.  If He is my Father, then why does He not come to help his helpless child?  So God must either not exist or be against me.'  "Amadeus" continues this reasoning further: 'God is against me, so I will be against God.'

[addressing a crucifix]
Salieri: From now on we are enemies, You and I. Because You choose for Your instrument a boastful, lustful, smutty, infantile boy and give me for reward only the ability to recognize the incarnation. Because You are unjust, unfair, unkind, I will block You, I swear it. I will hinder and harm Your creature on earth as far as I am able.  

Ever quickly the stakes are raised.  Before the film concludes we are forced to watch, through breathtakingly beautiful music, the near ascension of a man to god.  Salieri becomes the greatest of all  adversaries: the devil incarnate, set to destroy God's work.

 Imagine it, the cathedral, all Vienna sitting there, his coffin, Mozart's little coffin in the middle, and then, in that silence, music! A divine music bursts out over them all. A great mass of death! Requiem mass for Wolfgang Mozart, composed by his devoted friend, Antonio Salieri! Oh what sublimity, what depth, what passion in the music! Salieri has been touched by God at last. And God is forced to listen! Powerless, powerless to stop it! I, for once in the end, laughing at him!

Living through "Amadeus" can be a fire walk.  Be careful how close you get to those flames.  As for me, I've peered into those depths.  My hairs have been burnt by that flame.  I am wiser for it. 

God is alive, and He knows us.  So why not wrestle with Him?  Ask yourself those horrifically difficult questions.  I, like Salieri, often feel like a mediocrity.  I too can be that patron saint.  I am smart, but not brilliant.  My reflection is fair, but not beautiful.  I am verbose, but my words are not elegant.  I am quirky, but not wholly unique.  I analyze my own plans night and day, but am inconsiderate to the dreams of others.  My sense of humor isn't as awesome as I want it to be.  My hairline is receding.  My mind is forgetful of pretty much everything.  I love, but am not loved in return.  I am loved, but I do not love in return.  Why is it this way?  Of all the worlds He could have created, why did God create this one?

The horror of "Amadeus" is perfect in its despair.  Sinners, I urge you, let us ask the dark questions of God, while remembering that He is God, and we are not.  

All I wanted was to sing to God. He gave me that longing... and then made me mute. Why? Tell me that. If He didn't want me to praise him with music, why implant the desire? Like a lust in my body! And then deny me the talent?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The 9 Most Influential Films of My Life: #3

Amongst a sea of emo-sports flicks like "Little Giants", "The Mighty Ducks", "The Big Green", "Air Bud", and "Angels in the Outfield" -- only one film~soul dared to rip my youthful 'heart out of my ass'.  There can be only one Lord of the sports' ring. 

"Cool Runnings" means 'Peace be the Journey', the very slogan I have borrowed every time I conclude an email.  I think it runs parallel to the way the Apostle Paul often wraps up his letters to the churches:

Romans 15:33: Now the peace of God be with you all.  Amen.

2 Corinthians 13:11: Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

Ephesians 6:23: Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Philippians 4:9: "The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."

2 Thessalonians 3:16:  "Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance.  The Lord be with you all!"

 Why are Paul's letters to the budding churches infused with such talk of peace?  I think the answer is because this world is destined to fall away.  Our great strivings will amount to nothing, for what is man's breath?  We toil, we quarrel, and work to build for ourselves lives that have both purpose and brilliance.

Disney films instill in our children the ethics of hard work and social mobility.  Well, that's all well and good, but the reality is that most of the time our hard work will not live up to the expectations we assign to it.  At other times, external forces completely out of our control will tear our work apart.  Furthermore, evil men seek to defile your work -- and in time they will do so successfully.  In this world, we are lying to ourselves if we think that evil doesn't prevail most of the time.

"Cool Runnings" may be schlocky, but I instinctively connected to its rhythm as something resonant. Genuine.  Even at seven years of age, I had watched myself not be as cool as a kid as I wanted to be.  I wasn't the best soccer player, my friends had more trophies than me (my goodness, did I ever have some deep envy issues early on!), and I couldn't ever beat the Sandman on 'Super Punch Out'.  I had experienced loss.  I knew its bitter taste.  And so, when four Jamaican bobsledders fail to win Olympic gold, I recognized that as something I could relate to.  I've never lived happily ever after, I've never seen a blue fairy, and I haven't known the girl of my dreams (in the Biblical sense). 

What I witnessed in "Cool Runnings" was the same thing I read in "Where the Red Fern Grows".  Pain exists.  Failure lives.  And these devils won't be going away anytime soon.  Success will come and go, just like money and fame.  But as cheesy as it sounds, God is interested in my character, more than any litany of good deeds hanging on the mantle. 

This world is broken.  This world is broken.  Say it again until it sticks: this world is broken.

We must invest our efforts into the strength of our character, rather than the shine of our monuments.  Little of what we do will ever matter.  Once the cure is recognized and obeyed, the journey begins.  The shedding of the material worldview is a difficult idea to embrace, but it is crucial in an appropriate understanding of how to overshadow failure with triumph.  The Lord will see us through it.  Let us walk through life in peace, knowing that the redemption of this earth is certain, and not our burden to bear.

 Peace be the Journey, indeed.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The 9 Most Influential Films of My Life: #4

There I am, staring at myself in the bathroom mirror.

I'm upset.  I'm angry.  I'm confused...  I'm sixteen.

Just hours earlier I had experienced the rite-of-passage that is the mullet haircut.  I gloriously accepted the work in the front, party in the back haircut to live up to a dare.  As soon as my father's eyes caught a glimpse of the awe-inducing dew, I was told the party was over.  In the morning an American barber would see to it that the beast in back would be tamed.  My mullet magnificence stayed with me for less than twelve hours.

I'm sixteen experiencing all the general self-identity issues that every teenager must walk through.  I don't fit in.  I'm socially awkward.  I've just taken my SAT, and I don't have a clue as to where I want to go to school, how I'm going to pay for it, or what the heck I want to study.

Mother comes to knock on the bathroom door.  She knows I'm upset.  Teenagers aren't the best at hiding their emotions. What is it, Mom?  She asks if there's anything she can do for me.

Then, suddenly, like some sort of angelic vision, it came to me.  Indeed, there was something she could do for me.  I needed a ride to the video store.  I had faintly heard of far-off rumors of the greatness of "Citizen Kane", but my movie knowledge didn't go much past the names of the (at that time) five James Bond actors.  Kane was supposedly the greatest film ever put to celluloid.  Could it be true?  And if it was true, what on earth did the greatest movie ever made look like?  Did it have dinosaurs? (See Most Influential Film #5)  What was this stuff made of that it could be so unanimously heralded as the best of the best?

In my high school angst this question suddenly seemed important to me.  Maybe the greatest movie ever made would give me some insight into how life works.  Maybe the answer to the mystery of Rosebud would also serve as the answer to my seemingly pointless life?

Orson Welles depicted a man's life on film.  All of it.  Welles squeezed out the goo from one man's destiny to get to its rich center.

The story of Charles Foster Kane, for me, is one of the most romantic stories ever told.It may be tragedy.  It may be indulgent melodrama,  but it is full -- to the brim. Be careful -- lest it spill over!

Kane works because it speaks to all of one man's life and only one man.  I think it may be the closest we can hope to get in this life of a Godly P.O.V.  Kane's life is a single theme.  That's the spirit of it.  Whatever you think of the film, be it boring, confusing, lack-luster; whatever it may be, it's all okay.  It's okay because it is complete in its focus of thematicizing a human life. 

I've been told that "Citizen Kane" was once planned to be entitled, "American".  If it would have ended up that way, sure, it'd still be awesome, but perhaps it would grow too big for its britches.  When we try to fit the life of Charles Foster Kane (or William Randolph Hearst, if you prefer) into an analogy for the average American, or for humanity in general, we lose the very stuff that makes Kane great.  One man's story is good enough, we don't have to muddle the waters by adding philosophical bloviation to it.

I watched "Citizen Kane" as a sixteen year old, and knew forthrightly that this was a sublime work unmatched by any other creation of fiction my eyes had yet subjected my brain to view.  The ramifications would be deep.

After Kane came my life.  The experience gave me faith that I could sculpt my life to match a single theme.  My very breath itself could, nay, must become cinematic.  My life was to be as valuable as the story it told.  I could have a theme of my very own; a sensation, a deep inner feeling that validated and individualized my very existence. 

So I went out in search of a story for my life. 

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The 9 Most Influential Films of My Life: #5

 Ray Arnold: Hold onto your butts.

I was six going on seven when "Jurassic Park" hit the theaters.  For my little eyes, it was a beast of a film.

     Garrison Elementary School, home of the Garrison Gators, has a modest library for its blossoming young students.  Within my circle of friends, the one-room library could have been the size of the Guggenheim; we only ever focused our eyes on one small section of books.  The school had ordered a dozen or so picture books about dinosaurs.  Each book was about a different type.  Even though the books only offered drawings of the Reptilian-creatures (sorry Dr. Grant), these glimpses of the magical world that was once, was enough to set our imaginations on fire.

     A few years after the release of "Jurassic Park", I found a book in my brother's closet.  I cannot recall the title anymore, but the book was focused on the search for modern day dinosaurs.  Could it be?  Was it possible?  In this great big world, was it possible for just one ancient creature to have survived?  Maybe this was my destiny?  The book had one particular image of a carcuss that a fishing boat had drug up.   That image is burned in my memory.  Here was proof of a plesiosaur; right in front of my eye balls! Note: since that day I have been persuaded to believe that what that book showed was not the body of a plesiosaur, but rather a decayed basking shark. Sigh...

Why do I share this?  Why are these stories important?

     When I read about the stegosaurus, the brachiosaurus, and the igaunodon, I didn't know if I believed it.  If these creatures were so great and mighty, how could they have died off?  It didn't follow in my little brain.  They were mythic in nature.  They were on par with the epic abominations that Sinbad faced.  "Jurassic Park" took that mythic idea of monstrous animals and materialized it into something definitive.  To believe in dinosaurs no longer took faith, for here in front of me, a T-Rex just ate the blood-sucking lawyer!  The day of salvation for paleontologists worldwide had arrived!  Praise the Lord!  The need for faith in dinosaurs was no longer necessary.  Here they are.  Behold!

I trust I'm being relentlessly obtuse.  I will try to simplify.

"Jurassic Park" helped instill these attributes in my character that I carry with me to this day:

1) Curiosity as Virtue.  In cementing the reality of a dinosaur existence, I was given a proof that there is more to this life than we presently are given access to.  This birthed a great curiosity in my bosom.  It served as the catalyst that now feeds my ever expanding interest in sub-atomic physics as well as cryptozoology.  If dinosaurs truly existed, these magnificient monstrosities, what other truths are lurking behind some past door or some mathematical proof?

2) Faith and Hope as Virtue.  Dinosaurs are a mystery.  Sure we've got a myriad of theories as to how they expired, but I remain unconvinced by all of them.  They are a mystery.  There are true mysteries left to discover about this world.  The cynical life ignores these mysteries.  To live is to hope and seek to discover.  So I should remain of open-spirit and cunning intellect so as to hope to see some of these mysteries unravel in my time.

3) Bigger as Better.  The T-Rex trumps the Velociraptor every time.  I don't care if they hunt in packs, and the Rex can only spot movement.  He's higher in the food chain.  He wins.

4) Live long enough to see these things get cloned for real!  I must live, so that I may see.

Dr. Ian Malcolm: What is so great about discovery? It is a violent, penetrative act that scars what it explores. What you call discovery, I call the rape of the natural world.
Dr. Malcolm's harsh critique of discovery certainly has merit when we take a look at discovery and innovation from a historical perspective.  The pyramids were built under the backs of thousands of suffering slaves.  Columbus brought death with him to the Americas.  Apollo 1 ended before it began with the deaths of its three not-yet-astronauts.  But these tragedies do not overshadow the innate need instilled in man to struggle to discover what is yet unknown.

God has told us in His scriptures that He has made Himself known through the natural world.  We call this general revelation.  If God's character can be found in His creation, let us discover it to the utmost, for in discovering the terms of our existence, we discover aspects of God.  God has made Himself known through dinosaurs.  Hallelujah!
Can I get an amen?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The 9 Most Influential Films of My Life: #6

     If the Good Lord ever chooses to bless me by granting me a male offspring, it is imperative the firstborn child's name be Atticus.

     Atticus Finch is the greatest protagonist in film history.  Without being Christ Himself, without having to suffer a torturous death in the third act, Atticus Finch, our humble Father in "To Kill a Mockingbird", emulates the greatest qualities a man can ever hope to attain.

A cursory list of the attributes of Atticus Finch follows:

     Atticus is brutal in his exertion of strength.  Watch the scene where he shoots the rabid dog.  He doesn't flinch.  His execution of wrath is just and wholly swift.  If this man were to choose to make you an enemy, you would not survive his justice.

"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.'  But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also."*

     Atticus is fiercely intelligent.  There's a reason that despite receiving a unanimous verdict against his defendant, Mr. Finch is greeted with honor and respect by his defendant's peers.  In the courtroom, Atticus mops the floor with the prosecution's ridiculous story.  He pubicly humiliates them.  And in return for having been shamed, the townspeople choose evil.  They're insipid ideologies are no match for Finch's ferocious genius.

"If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.  Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two."

     Is there a more loving father than Atticus Finch?  In some respect, loving one's own family is a fairly regular practice among cinematic protagonists.  Even anti-heroes like the Corleone family (minus one Judas brother) have a vast and admirable love for those within the family, but love can take many forms.  The love the widower Atticus shows for his children is unique.  Surely somewhere in the far reaches of his mind, Atticus is a desperate man.  The responsibility of raising his children has fallen fully upon his brow.  His wife has passed away.  He alone must be the example his children will emulate.  The most remarkable aspect in his relationship with his children is that he never condescends down to them.  He has every right to be condescending -- they are young, naive, and at times stupid -- he is wise, strong, and right, yet he never overshadows his children with his character.  He talks to them as they are.  He knows his children.

"Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you."

     Atticus exudes a lightness of being.  This is a man who has lost his wife, gets paid for his hard work with vegetables, lives amongst a ravaging environment of racist hatred, and has to deal everyday with two very curious children.  Atticus fills all of his roles with exquisite tenderness.  He comes off as an easy man.  He has not been made jaded by the world 'round.  He still manages to deal with each conflict with the appropriate amount of seriousness.  And he is quick to smile. 

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'  But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?  Do not even the tax collectors do the same?" 

     Most of all, Atticus always acts on grace.  To exert mercy and grace is, in my belief, the hardest call of the Gospel.  It is easy to love those who love you.  Jesus proclaims, it is in the discipline of showing love to our enemies that the Good News of God's character is best exemplified.  When Atticus is spat at by a drunken bastard just moments after telling his defendant's family that their son is dead, who among us didn't want Atticus to inflict vengeance on the sorry sap of a soul?  Who was this pathetic man that he felt such audacious hostility as to spit on the image of such a saint as Atticus Finch?  He is no one!  When he dies, no one will weep.  As for Atticus, his life is of tremendous value.  He has every right to beat the snot out of this imbecile.  Yet Atticus, in his blessed wisdom, forgives the man by showing mercy.

"Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." 

     Jesus Christ is the only perfect man who ever lived.  The call to emulate his life is impossible.  Examples like Atticus Finch are as rare as they are precious.

*All italicized quotes from Matthew 5:38-48, New American Standard