VerMeer's Geographer

VerMeer's Geographer
The Geographer, by Vermeer, c. 1669


The gospel of Inclusion

I'm not sure what the theme of my homily today ought to be. Do I want to speak of the miracle of Our Lord's divine transformation? Not really, no. I don't want to talk about His divinity. I'd rather talk about His humanity. I mean, you know, how He lived His life, here on Earth. His *kindness*, His *tolerance*... Listen, here's what I think. I think that we can't go around... measuring our goodness by what we don't do. By what we deny ourselves, what we resist, and who we exclude. I think... we've got to measure goodness by what we *embrace*, what we create... and who we include.

 This is the homily given by the Roman Catholic Priest at the end of the thoughtfully excellent high-quality film Chocolat.  Chocolat portrays the conflict of a religious moralist--mayor of a small village, vs. a genuinely human-loving non-religious newcomer.  Since the end has the religious majority and the mayor coming over to the side of love and tolerance, one can say it is not an overtly anti-religious film--rather it is anti-moralistic-religion--much like Jesus was against the Pharisees.  One CAN say it is covertly anti-religious in that the heroine never does embrace the grace of Christ, as she, in and of herself (getting by with a little help from her friends), seems to have quite enough grace without any wiff of that nasty religious stuff that seems to always come with Jesus.

I think that was my main problem with the film, the Jesus-less-ness of it all.  While Christianity is tolerated--and never itself openly denounced (even if the most distorted, vile legalism is seen as "normal" Christianity), the most mature, self-giving, genuine, loving, kind, listening, friendly, indeed Christ-like,  person in the film BY FAR, is the single non-religious character.  In essence, she seems to be the most "highly evolved" person there--someone who's transcended the need of any faith to give her faith in the essential goodness of every human being, and is quite able to give grace to all, thank you--without acknowledging receiving any grace herself from above.

As can be seen from the homily, the ultimate message to the Christians is tolerance and inclusion--something of course which is a part, or, a result of the full gospel of Jesus.  Jesus Himself though, is the heart of, and really, the whole of the good news He brings, and salvation (and the tolerance and inclusion the Holy Spirit brings) is found in no one else but Him.

Tolerance and inclusion are also, only a part of the love found in the One John named Love.  Total holiness and purity are also there--and holiness in Chocolat is given short shrift--only caricatured in forced external acts of self denial--by the nasty moralist, which end up only failing in a flailing in chocolate on display.

Here are some other Christians' takes on this story--one perhaps too harsh, and a chorus of others perhaps too indulgent.

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