Saturday, February 6, 2010

Precious and the Blind Side.

We've been pretty couped up this week.  With all the sickness, vomiting, laundry, and disinfecting, Trey and I eventually needed a break so we sat down the other night with popcorn, wine, and a movie.

I'd been wanting to see Precious for a long time but hadn't had the chance to get to the theater.  When Dea and Darius said they had a copy, we were thrilled to finally get to see the critically acclaimed film.

I'm just going to tell you right now that, despite my new "connections" with NBC - or not - we do not get movies before they are released to the public on DVD.  Just as we were starting the film, we questioned the source of the DVD.  It was a bootleg copy the boys had gotten from, "a homeboy".

We'll be buying two when in comes out just to make up for our waywardness.  Maybe I'll do a giveaway.  Just keepin' it real.

Since we've now seen both Precious and The Blind Side, it's hard not to compare the two movies based on characters from incredibly similar neighborhoods.


The Blind Side, nominated for 2 Oscars, tells the beautiful story of Michael Oher, a big kid with huge potential but no opportunities.  Raised in the inner-city of Memphis, his past is eluded to but never really uncovered.  He's got a crack-addicted momma who loves her boy but can't care for him.  Through some pretty great turns in his favor, he is lifted out of his 'hood and transplanted onto the other side of the tracks and into the home of the Touhey's.  They are wealthy, connected on all fronts, and set their affections decidedly on Michael, helping to unearth his amazing propensity for football, love of family, and integration into their white-washed world. It's a great movie that makes you want to stand up and cheer - a success story in the most exaggerated sense of the word.  A rescue.  Eventually, the economically and educationally impoverished Oher graduates from the southern Christian private school he's attending with the Touhey children, goes on to play football at Ole Miss, and is eventually drafted by the Baltimore Ravens.  The Touhey's now faithfully attend each game via private plane.   

Precious, nominated for 4 Oscars, is a different story all-together.  From the welfare subsidized housing projects of Harlem, Precious eeks out an existance despite her abusive mother, illiteracy, and the two children she has borne at the hands of her father.  He also, in the process of raping her, has infected her with HIV.  Precious is sent to an alternative school where a instructor, who is neither wealthy or connected, teaches her not only to read but to find her voice by journaling.  It is the story of a rescue of a different sort but a rescue all the same. 

As we watched The Blind Side, we could name people we knew just like the the Touhey's.  The feisty, strong, influential, and affluent types who's safety net is so huge, they live without fear of failure or even the dissapproval of peers.  In the book, their net is Christ.  In the movie, it seems to be something far less magnificant. 

And as we watched Precious, we got big ol' pits in our stomachs.  We could name people we knew just like her, just like her momma, just like her daddy, just like her friends, just like her granny, and just like the boys on the corner.  We knew her teacher, and her principal.   We'd seen firsthand the sharp change in demeanor by the momma when the one holding the purse-strings of welfare was watching.  These kids live in our neighborhood, come to Mercy Street, and play basketball with our boys. 

Part of us wishes we could get them all out like Michael Oher.  Scatter them across the country into the homes of wealthy, resourced types, put them in great schools, and expose them to opportunities beyond their wildest dreams.  How much of a difference could we make if we could just remove them from the influences that scream at them from all sides.  If we could separate them from their envrironment, could we have a slew of Michael Oher's on our hands?

Or, what if the Touhey's of the city, and the Michael Ohers for that matter, came down, volunteered.  I mean really volunteered.  Gave their lives away for the cause of the broken.  What if they came into these kids world all the time and shouted a different kind of message.  To all the Precious-es of West Dallas - what if they heard hope, deliverance, justice, and  

"YOU ARE YOUR NAME!  YOU ARE KNOWN AND BELOVED BY THE LORD OF THE UNIVERSE!  HE KNOWS YOUR CIRCUMSTANCE AND, EVEN WHEN IT DOESN'T FEEL LIKE IT, HE HOLDS YOU IN THE PALM OF HIS RIGHTEOUS RIGHT HAND!  
YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN!  
YOU ARE BELOVED!  
YOU ARE GOD'S WORKMANSHIP!  
YOU ARE A NEW CREATION!  
YOU ARE MADE ALIVE IN CHRIST!  
YOU ARE A HOLY PARTAKER IN A HEAVENLY CALLING!  
YOU ARE PART OF THE TRUE VINE!  
YOU ARE CHOSEN OF GOD, HOLY AND DEARLY LOVED!
YOU ARE AN ALIEN TO THIS WORLD!
YOU ARE A SON OF GOD, ONE IN CHRIST JESUS!
YOU ARE A JOINT HEIR WITH CHRIST, SHARING HIS INHERITANCE!
YOU ARE A MEMBER OF A CHOSEN RACE, A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD!
YOU ARE CHRIST'S FRIEND!
YOU ARE RIGHTEOUS AND HOLY!
YOU ARE PRECIOUS!" 

We might not get ourselves a bunch of professional football players, but instead, the Lord might change a city.

14 comments:

Holli said...

haven't seen either movie yet as England is a little slow on getting movies even to the theater. might need to get myself a bootlegging "homeboy"! haha!
Can't wait to see that movies and for CITIES to be CHANGED BY OUR MIGHTY GOD!!!

Jess said...

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for writing this! I've been wondering what your thoughts where about these movies (I haven't seen either of them yet since I don't have homeboys to get me copies ;).

I appreciate your wisdom and view. My heart is being stirred. . .

Candy said...

Amen and amen.
May God use this post to transform some lives, rich and poor.

Love,
Candy

Henley on the Horn said...

I haven't seen either movie yet. I wasn't sure my heart could handle "Precious". Some scenes just seemed too harsh & I have such a visual memory. However, I know it is reality for far too many people. I know I can be doing more to help. I don't have deep, deep pockets or a private plane, but I can get out there and share Christ's love with others more than I do. THANK YOU for the encouragement.

Laura (Mighell) Johnson said...

I recently served on a jury, and we convicted a 19-year-old (17 at time of the crime) of capital murder for killing two bodyguards of a drug dealer and almost killing the drug dealer. The crime, and lives of these kids, took place near Singleton and Sylvan.

I thought of you and Trey and your ministry often during the trial. What a tough world it is over where you are! I ended up being so angry that these people were living the way they were - drugs, guns, killing friends, living in drug houses. I wanted to stand up and shout "I know of a ministry in West Dallas that could have helped you!" The killer was actually going to Dallas Can Academy at the time of the murders. I wanted to say "Come on! You had a chance!"

But, in the end, the drug dealer "did Cesar wrong" so he tried to kill him and ended up killing the two drug dealers. Two Hispanic men on the jury who live in Oak Cliff kind of laughed when I said "what are we going to do about this?!?" and said there is just nothing we can do about the way they live. The money for the drugs is just too good and easy, and the peer pressure is just too strong.

Honestly, in the end, I couldn't decide if I wanted to go to try to help/shake up these teenagers or just stay in my nice Lake Highlands neighborhood and keep sending my child to private school and say "this is ridiculous and good riddance." I'm still processing it all.

God bless you for getting dirty and fighting against "the norm" in West Dallas.

Melissa said...

Lord, use us to speak Truth to Your children!

Kim said...

The movie hasn't made it to Hong Kong either but I bet I can find me a local version of the "homeboys" who know all about bootlegging! I think they are friends of the guys who follow me around in the city asking, "Copy watch?" "Copy bag?"
On a serious note ... thank you for stirring our hearts and calling us to act!
Love & Blessings,
Kim

Marcie said...

Melissa-

This is my most favorite post you have ever written (and I love so many of them!).

May we all go and live lives that remind our brothers and sisters that they are loved by a Lord that loves so well!

Karin Katherine said...

As a card carrying member of SAG, please call me around award time and I will share my DVD's with you. Seriously.

Precious made me physically ill to watch. Too painful and raw and you left out how her own mother sexually abused her too.

Heart breaking that the "characters" from Precious are already etched in your reality.

There are so many things I want to do in this world FOR this world...but oh where to begin?

I'm on my knees in prayer to find my own call to ministry.

God Bless you for following yours.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Thank you for this post.

Shannon (Gini's friend)

AmyRLugo said...

What a wonderful and convicting post. I am knew to your blog thanks to Henley on the Horn and I look forward to learning more about your ministry.

Becca said...

Oh I love this post my friend! I've seen Blind Side and cant wait to see PRecious -- luckily I know some homeboys :-) haha jk . . .

anyways, thanks for sharing this - i really did love it!

TDM Wendy said...

Amen and amen. I saw Blind Side and read the Precious book. The book was painful - really graphic.
I go to a church of about 5000 people. A few weeks ago our pastor gave an amazing "Sanctity of Life sermon that spoke not just of abortion, but of all the moms out there who have those babies and need our support. Of all the displaced children who were not aborted but are now circling through foster care. He challenged our congregation. In our county there are about 150 kids who need foster care placement. How easy should that be for our church to take those kids? A number of people are coming forward! (www.cornerstoneweb.org if you want to listen; sermon from 1/24/10)

We are not in a position right now to do that, but am praying for God's timing. (And hoping that adoption/fostering is in the plans.)

I have three and my youngest is 1 1/2 right now. And I am barely sane as proven by the fact that I posted a comment on your blog once and said something like "My friend Kerry Anderson sent me your way. I think you knew her from UCLA." Ummm. . . I wanted to let you know that you are not going crazy. You did not go to UCLA (in case my comment got you confused). She made a connection with your sister through Ethiopian adoption stuff.

Where was I? I love your heart and action for God's children. Your ministry rocks! I could go on and on . . . I'm just waiting to be cut off here. Isn't there a limit on how long you can comment. Blessings to you! I hope our real life paths cross some day.

coneymama said...

I read the book "Precious" and was instantly reminded of all the kids I work with. Very difficult to read, but these kids live that book day in and day out. Can't wait to see the film. God Bless you, the Hills and Mercy Street...and all these "Precius" babies!