If you watched the Academy Awards this past year, one movie tough to ignore was Doubt. Having four actors nominated for acting awards does that some times. I remember being intrigued by the previews, but didn’t get a chance to see it until a couple of weeks ago now that it’s out on DVD. On the artistic side, you won’t be surprised why the movie was up for so many awards. Meryl Streep and Phillip Seymour Hoffman in particular are mind-blowingly good. The quality of acting alone makes the movie worth watching.
The plot of the movie is about an empathetic, charismatic priest accused of child molestation by a a devout and confidently rigid nun. You might think that this movie would be unfairly biased against the priest with what’s gone on in recent years. Yet, the movie does a fantastic job of making each character complex. In some ways, the movie is painfully complex. Many of us want to see films where we end up knowing what happened and who the good people are and who the bad people are. Doubt is not that kind of movie. No, sometimes I get angered at movies in which the point is that there is no point. Doubt, however, escapes that condemnation because it’s not trying to say that it doesn’t matter what happened. After watching the movie, you can’t help but have an impression of what you think happened. Therefore, in this way, the movie tells you something about your own biases of perception. It forces you to say that what you think happened may not be what really happened. It forces you to “doubt” your ability to know with certainty what happened. This all sounds very postmodern, and in some ways it is. However, it seems that what the movie ultimately calls for is humility with our own perceptions and to be willing to continue to ask questions to find out. It’s not saying there is no right and wrong in the situation, nor is it saying it doesn’t matter what happened. Instead, it’s saying the world is sometimes more complex than we want it to be. And, as Christians, we should give a hearty “amen.” We are far too often accused of making prideful, unquestioning accusations. We are far too often prone to make quick judgments. We do need to learn to recognize that we too are finite, broken people. God is truly changing us, but yet we still are hampered in our ability to administer justice with certainty. God knows. Our trust is in Him. In the meantime, we need to grow in being quick to be humble and persevere in asking questions while holding tightly to the truth we have in God’s revelation to us.
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