— By JOHN PAUL CARTER
The Academy Awards are fast-approaching and, as usual, I haven’t seen most of the nominated movies – partly by choice and partly because some of them haven’t played here. However, three of the movies that we have seen this cycle, although not nominated for best picture, have been excellent: “The Butler,” “The Book Thief” and “Saving Mr. Banks.” I love to see a great story about real people portrayed on the big screen.
When Carole and I go to the show, I insist on staying until the screen grows dark and the house lights come up. Sometimes we’re the only ones left. Last week, she became a bit impatient with my lingering. I think she was afraid that the attendants would sweep us up with the empty popcorn sacks.
I don’t stay till the end to get my money’s worth or to avoid being trampled in the rush for the exits. Nor is it chiefly to hear the film’s theme music, although it’s usually more meaningful after the story has been told. I remain to see the credits – the long list not only of the actors, but of the numerous people and places that had a part in making the movie.
In the making of any movie, there are hundreds of people involved – but only a few who are considered for Oscars. I’m still not sure what a “grip” is or what a “best boy” does. Why isn’t there a “best girl?” What about those contributors who are not the “best,” but just “above average?” And names like “Rip Torn” always arouse my curiosity.
The credits are an important reminder that it takes lots of people with different skills working together to make a good film – including many whose names never appear on the screen. Indeed, it requires a large cast of people to get almost anything done in our world – individually or collectively. Recognizing our interdependence fosters much needed humility and gratitude.
Not even God is a “one man-band” or a deity who goes it alone. He has always worked with a large human cast. Scripture’s credits are found in the genealogies, Hebrews’ “cloud of witnesses” (11:1-39), and in Paul’s recognition of folks who otherwise might have been unknown – Tychicus, Onesimus and Phoebe, to mention just a few.
It takes each of us faithfully doing our part to accomplish God’s work in the world. Paul says that we are the many diverse parts who now function together as the physical “body of Christ” in our world. (1 Corinthians 12) Whether we have the lead, a supporting role, or work behind the scenes, our task is vital. And because the ending is being written in the redemptive mind of our Creator, we never know how important our part may turn out to be.
We don’t always get to choose our roles. But it is up to us how well we perform. When the credits roll at the end of the day, I want to have had a part – not just in a movie but in His-Story.
John Paul Carter’s “Notes From the Journey” is a regular feature of Viewpoints.