Wednesday, 29 October 2008

the boy in striped pyjamas

Last night, we went to watch The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and it was one of those films which left me just sitting in silence at the end. Prejudice, hatred, violence are all here in the melting pot which boiled over at Auschwitz. - ‘Out-With’ as it’s referred to by the central character – 8 year old Bruno. He makes friends with Shmuel – a Jewish boy who’s the other side of the barbed wire and I wont spoil the story line by saying more. It’s well worth seeing, although I guess it’s one we’d have missed at this stage if it wasn’t the next film up for discussion at Film Club. I found it a scary dramatisation of how easy ordinary decent people get caught up with horrific systems and re-act somewhat differently. It was all the more poignant for me as we’d just come back from a few days spent with some great friends John and Mollie. John is one of, maybe the, wisest and most gracious men I’ve had the privilege to count as a friend. Older than my own father it was wonderful to spend time with someone who always leaves me feeling I know Jesus a little bit better after having been in his company. A couple of days on Dartmoor also helped. However, the link with the film came about because of part of John’s own story. He was part of the Exclusive Brethren until he dared to challenge the character and practices of the leadership, even though he himself was part of it. As quick as the flick of  a switch he and his family were out of fellowship, which meant losing his job, friends and his whole framework for life. This time he told me of ‘the visit’. Thirty years after this incident he was visited by three exclusives who were seeking forgiveness for ungracious acts in the past. When they asked John for forgiveness he just laughed (and I can just imagine the scene) ‘why should I need to forgive you’ he said, ‘I forgave you years ago’. Would I have stood out like Bonhoeffer, would I have had John’s courage in the face of a religious system? A disturbing film, it’ll be interesting to hear what the others have made of it.

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