Ever since its inception, there has never been anyplace like the movies. They inspire, terrify, and delight us. They are a unifying treasure in our modern culture. It was a movie that inspired today’s post and now before we start, let’s open up our hymnals to a song that I think is very important, “Springtime for Hitler.”
You’ll understand why in a bit.
And…now…it’s time for today’s sermon. (See what I did there?) I was very inspired last night when I went to see the film The Monuments Men. I didn’t really expect to enjoy it as much as I did, but why wouldn’t I enjoy a comedic drama about artistic masterpieces set during the Second World War? It has all of the ingredients I need for a good time. I’m no fan of war, of course, I’m violently opposed to any sort of violence. I suppose that’s a form of irony, but I’ve never been very cognizant of the workings of irony. This is probably a tragic fault for somebody who would like to be better known for his writing. Back to the film, though. Many critics are bashing it, but as always seems to be the case, they’re making a mistake. I don’t really believe in critiquing art. Critique something tangible; that makes sense, but an opinion on something brand new has never seemed awfully valid to me. I highly recommend you see the picture with a monstrously large beverage and a frighteningly enormous bucket of popcorn. That’s the only way to go to the cinema, of course.
In the picture, there is a scene where the Nazis throw flames onto a massive collection of priceless art — we’re talking thousands upon thousands of the works done by the great masters. Even though no classical art was actually damaged in the film, as it’s a film, it was still heart-rending to see the canvas blister and burn as the flames overtook it and left nothing of somebody’s hard work. Nothing more but ashes. And while it’s a great stretch, it brings me to the crux of my sermon. Good word that, isn’t it, crux? The point that I want to make is that the world and society could both be much better if we attempted to see eye to eye and thought about the consequences of our beliefs.
I will never in all my life tell another person that the things they hold dear and true are wrong. I would never go out of my way to change others. (This is the major reason that I think religious missionaries are some of the worst scourge of humankind.) I think it’s marvelous when people are their authentic selves, not a conglomeration of everything that is hip and cool or not. Hitler is an interesting and sometimes sympathetic character, which is no popular opinion, but just imagine a world where Hitler hadn’t been told he was an inadequate painter? Really think about it. What might have happened in the course of history? Maybe we’d know nothing of Hitler and his name would live on in the textbooks of art history classes listing him a mediocre modern painter. Maybe he would have achieved greatness and we would go to Berlin in droves to see a small museum dedicated to his masterpieces. We never can know, though, because Hitler wasn’t allowed to be his authentic self.
Perhaps that was a rotten analogy, but I think it’s a true one. In a world where we are still condemning people for their sexuality, religious convictions, their nationalities, and the terrible jobs they hold; we don’t seem to realize that we are holding ourselves back as a civilization. We could be doing much better things, achieving higher goals, bringing unity instead of causing brooding and jealousy and anguish. We should be able to celebrate the interests and ideas and preferences of people, even of those we don’t personally agree with.
As a reverend, I can assure you that God has never spoken through me. Even though I worship at the altar of Beyoncé, she’s no different from you or I. There is not a reason that we all can’t be like Beyoncé, if that’s what we want to do. We should all be able to pursue our passions and interests and lead fulfilled lives without society’s harsh judgement.
This sermon was a bit all over the place, but I hope that I have made my initial point clear — to celebrate the differences found in everybody and to coexist peacefully together in a world worth enjoying. Maybe there would still be hordes of great art on display and beautiful European villages would still stand if somebody had given a young Adolf a chance. Maybe young men and women would still be alive and wouldn’t kill themselves because of the cruelty inflicted on them by homophobic bullies. Maybe you would be even happier. Maybe.
Be good to each other.