Archive for January 2015

The Spitfire Grill (1996)   Leave a comment

Spitfire Grill 01

Above:  Percy Talbott, Seeking a Second Chance

All images in this post are screen captures I took via PowerDVD.

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THE SPITFIRE GRILL (1996)

Starring

Alison Elliott as Perchance “Percy” Talbott

Ellen Burstyn as Hannah Ferguson

Marcia Gay Harden as Shelby Goddard

Will Patton as Nahum Goddard

John M. Jackson as Eli Ferguson

Kieran Mulroney as Joe Sperling

Directed by Lee David Zlotoff

Rated PG-13

117 Minutes

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Is there no balm in Gilead,

no physician there?

Why has no new skin grown over their wound?

–Jeremiah 8:22, The Revised English Bible (1989)

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The Spitfire Grill (1996) is a remarkable, low-key movie with themes such as judging improperly, forgiving, reconciling, and healing.  It exists largely due to a Roman Catholic organization, Sacred Heart Southern Missions, Walls, Mississippi, which provides social services and applied its profits from from the film toward a school.  The main character is a wounded healer.  As Father Henri J. M. Nouwen wrote in his 1972 book, The Wounded Healer:  Ministry in Contemporary Society (1972), wounds can become sources of healing.

The movie is the story of Perchance “Percy” Talbott, a young woman recently released from prison, and Gilead, Maine, a dying small town.  Percy has a difficult past, but she hopes to start over in Gilead.  Most of the residents are willing to welcome her, at least after an initial phase of distrust, but Nahum Goddard, who is carrying a large load of guilt, suspects the worst about her during most of the narrative.

Spitfire Grill 04

Above:  Nahum Goddard

Percy works at the town’s restaurant and site of social interaction, which elderly and cranky Hannah Ferguson operates.  As the sheriff, who states simply that Percy has paid her debt to society, tells Hannah, she needs the help.

Spitfire Grill 03

Above:  Hannah Ferguson

Perhaps Percy’s most enthusiastic supporter in the town is Shelby, the long-suffering wife of Nahum.

Spitfire Grill 02

Above:  Shelby Goddard

Percy becomes a positive influence in the town.  She functions as the catalyst for the revival of Gilead as she struggles with her guilt and the suspicions other people harbor.  Meanwhile, Joe Sperling, a young man with his own family problems, extends unconditional love to her.  Percy also helps Hannah accomplish a major goal which Nahum has failed to accomplish.  Our main protagonist also facilitates the reunion of Hannah with Eli, her reclusive son who lives in the woods behind the restaurant.

Providing a thorough plot summary is not among my purposes in this post.  No, watching this movie attentively provides much spiritual food for thought.  Not knowing the full story prior to watching the movie for the first time is an asset, I think, for discovering the depth of the movie for oneself is a wonderful thing to do.  Identifying aspects of the film one had missed during previous viewings is also edifying.  I will however, provide two hints relevant to the end of the movie:  Percy is the Christ figure.  Her legacies to the town include reconciliation and a better future.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 17, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANTONY OF EGYPT, DESERT FATHER

THE FEAST OF SAINT BERARD AND HIS COMPANIONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS IN MOROCCO

THE FEAST OF EDMUND HAMILTON SEARS, UNITARIAN PASTOR AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

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A Stingy, Mean-Spirited Orthodoxy   3 comments

Books with Menorah

Above:  Two Books and a Menorah, January 16, 2015

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

I am quite fond of Judaism, from which my religion, Christianity (yes, a generally liberal version thereof) flows, and which many conservative Christians seem to consider severely lacking.

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Purity codes and tests disturb me.  Jesus violated them, and I have almost always been allegedly impure, according to them.  My context is the Bible Belt, in which I have always been a relative heretic, although I am actually fairly orthodox in the context of Christianity as a whole–the one in which Protestantism constitutes a minority.

A recent news story reminded me of J. Gresham Machen, who broke with the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. in 1936 to found the Presbyterian Church of America, which as called itself the Orthodox Presbyterian Church since 1940.  He published Christianity and Liberalism in 1923.  In that volume he argued that he and people who thought like him were Christians and that liberal Christians belonged to a religion other than Christianity.  Albert Mohler, the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky, made the same claim recently.

I have no use for the Holier-Than-Thou Club, members of which define me as hell-bound infidel.  Their orthodoxy is narrow-minded, stingy, and mean-spirited.  It functions to define them as the “in” crowd and people like me as the outsiders relative to true religion.  These self-righteous people and I reside in parallel theological realms.  I want nothing to do with their dimension.  No, I prefer a kind, humble orthodoxy–one which acknowledges that it might be mistaken on some points.

Father Anthony de Mello, S.J., related a wonderful story in The Song of the Bird (1982):

The disciples were full of questions about God.

Said the master, “God is the Unknown and the Unknowable.  Every statement about him, every answer to your questions, is a distortion of the truth.”

The disciples were bewildered.  “Then why do you speak about him at all?”

“Why does the bird sing?” said the master.

De Mello continued:

Not because it has a statement, but because it has a song.

(The Song of the Bird, pages 3 and 4)

God exists beyond the realm of complete human comprehension.  The best we mere mortals can do is to grasp part of the truth of God.  I am certain, therefore, that I am both correct and incorrect about a great deal, and that much of what I assume to be right is really wrong.  I sing my theological song anyway and leave the particulars to God and grace.  I strive for a generous orthodoxy, not a stingy and mean-spirited one.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 16, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGE AND LILLIAN WILLOUGHBY, QUAKER PEACE ACTIVISTS

THE FEAST OF RICHARD MEUX BENSON, FOUNDER OF THE SOCIETY OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST

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A Prayer for Those Who Suffer from Exposure to the Elements   1 comment

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Above:  The Hearth-Stone of the Poor–Waste Steam Not Wasted (1876), by Sol Eytinge, Jr.

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZ62-106379

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I wrote this prayer today, during a time especially cold weather in Athens-Clarke County, Georgia.  There was a freeze warning last night.  Another one will follow tonight, with the promise of relatively warm, yet still cold, temperatures next week.  My home is a properly warm one, I am glad to say, but many people who live within a radius of a few miles are not as fortunate.  Meanwhile, Matthew 25:31-46 has been on my mind.

KRT

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Most compassionate God, father and mother whose quality is to be merciful,

we pray for all those who suffer from exposure to the elements.

Many of us who enjoy proper shelter take our manifold blessings for granted.

Those much less fortunate than we are might even live in close proximity to us

and we might dwell in blissful obliviousness to this reality.

Thus, when the cold, the heat, the snow, the wind, and the rain come

many of our fellow children of God do suffer mightily

as we, in our homes, enjoy a different reality

and might be unaware of this fact or just choose not to recognize it.

May our communities become more just.

 May we care for each other more effectively,

provide necessary and morally proper opportunities to our neighbors,

and obey the commandments of our brother, Lord, and Savior, Jesus Christ,

to his glory and the benefit of our communities.  Amen.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 8, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT THORFINN OF HAMAR, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF GALILEO GALILEI, SCIENTIST

THE FEAST OF HARRIET BEDELL, EPISCOPAL DEACONESS

THE FEAST OF NATE SAINT AND THE OTHER MARTYRS OF THE ECUADOR MISSION, PROTESTANT MISSIONARIES

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Adapted from this post:

https://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2015/01/08/a-prayer-for-those-who-suffer-from-exposure-to-elements/

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Posted January 8, 2015 by neatnik2009 in Matthew 25, Prayers on Various Topics

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