Saturday, March 26, 2005

Touched by Saved

I recently watched the movie, Saved! It's a teen comedy about students in a fundamentalist Christian high school. I'm probably a spoiler, so if you don't want to know what happens in the movie, don't read this, though the movie is pretty predictable.

The story is about a high school senior, Mary, who is told by her boyfriend that he is gay. She is worried about his soul and wants to save him. After mulling over her options and talking to a friend, she has sex with him in an effort to turn him into a heterosexual. What is particularly interesting to me is that she interprets what her friend tells her, that Jesus would restore her spiritual virginity if she were raped, as a sign that Jesus wants her to have sex with her boyfriend. While this sounds very naïve, I thought it was possible that a 17 year-old might think this way (I've known girls who based their decision on what the Breakfast Club said about premarital sex). Of course, she gets pregnant. No one knows they had sex and she is the only one who knows she is pregnant. Her boyfriend's parents send him off to a rehab-type facility/school to turn him. The movie is about her senior year at school, hiding the pregnancy. While most of it is predictable and teen schlocky, I find myself mulling over the religious themes in the movie.

Mary parts ways with her best friend Hilary Fay (yeah, no obvious pointing at any television evangelist's wife...) when HF has a prayer meeting about the gay boyfriend. Mary's view is that Jesus is not going to answer these prayers because she already tried turning him in a way she felt certain was sanctioned by Jesus. Mary is left wondering how she could have gotten the message wrong and why God is letting her down (not only did she fail to turn the boyfriend and save his soul, she got preggers). A great scene is an argument later in the movie when HF throws a Bible at Mary. Mary turns around and says "this isn't a weapon, you idiot."

Predictably, the outsiders in the film figure out that Mary is secretly pregnant and befriend her.

A side issue is that Mary's widowed mother is carrying on with the pastor/principal who is married but separated from his wife. The wife wants a divorce but he won't do it because the Bible is against it. When everyone inevitably learns about the pregnancy, there is a discussion between Mary's mom and the pastor. The Pastor claims that Mary's pregnancy is God punishing them (Mary's mom and the pastor) for their involvement with each other. Mary's mother responds "that doesn't even make sense."

I guess the next part worth discussing is one of the last scenes of the movie. The denouement comes during the Prom. The gay boyfriend, Dean, shows up with his boyfriend. The pregnant Mary is there with her date. When Dean learns of Mary's pregnancy, he smiles and says "that's awesome," which I found so striking because he seems to be the only one who realizes what a wonderful thing having a baby is, regardless of the circumstances. The pastor/principal of the school tries to prevent Dean's entrance to the Prom saying that the Bible is very clear on homosexuality. There is some interesting dialogue.

Does this all seem disjointed? It probably does. I found the movie so interesting and moving because I found most of the characters to be genuinely seeking to do God's will and not being sure of how to go about it. They can't seem to correctly discern God's will or leading, or they think they can and get it wrong. This is the point that gets me. Even honest, God-revering, Jesus-loving folks can't be certain that they are acting in God's will. They can read the Bible and pray and be in community with fellow believers, but they cannot be certain they are right.

Where does this leave us? The only thing I can come up with is that we are supposed to be compassionate and loving and forgiving and humble.


spocko said...

I liked this movie too. What I like about Jenna Malone (the girl who got pregnant) is that she seemed very real.

What annoys me is how the leaders in this movie seem to have missed the point of Christianity. Of course that could just be that my idea of Christianity is very different that theirs. But I think that the scene where the one popular girl throws the bible at Jenna Malone is making a point. Too many of these so called Christians use the bible as a weapon. Also. their willful picking and choosing of parts of the bible is simply absured. They will quote Leviticus when it applies to some things but not others. They will quote Paul who never met Jesus but ignore Jesus' comments in Mark. Paul's views conflicted with most of the early Church including people who knew Jesus. Now I'll admit that the bible is a vast and complex work. I can understand people with little or no education misunderstanding it, but when the people who are supposed to be teaching it stray so far from the teachings of the person they claim to follow, it is really sad.

If you would like to see a movie that has a wonderful, although unconventionial spirituality, check out Groundhog Day.

If you want to see a movie that asks the question "If someone acted like Christ in today's world, how would he be treated?" Check out Jesus of Montreal.

If you want to see something that that shows the joyfulness of giving, check out "It could happen to you."

If you are interested in a classic about someone acting like Christ in society and how unacceptable it appears to be "The Ruling Class" with Peter O'Toole.

If you want to see what the consequences are of believing that the Rapture is coming, right now, check out the movie "The Rapture" It deals with some truely amazing moral issues. The ending is stunning.

Kaila said...

Hey Marjorie! It's Kaila.
I like your blog, awesome color. Heh.
But anyway, I loved Saved! probably in a different way because I'm a teenager and can relate to them more.
I liked the scene during the prom too, like when the Pastor wouldn't let the father of Mary's baby in because he was gay and he said, "I know in my heart Jesus still loves me." I just liked it. The whole movie was so cool and different from most movies.
And Macaulay Culkin was in it! Woohoo!

clanlally said...

Now Im going to have to go watch Groundhog Day again.

Larry said...

Marjorie, you said "we are supposed to be compassionate and loving and forgiving and humble."

That's it, maybe the best thing that can be said about this movie.

I will also say that people can be terribly wrong about God's will. I use the Inquisition as the most horrible example--unspeakable acts performed by people who must have thought they were doing God's will.

Stupid people may not know much about God's will no matter how often they (mis)interpret the Bible. That's an unpleasant truth we all have to face.

Marjorie said...

Welcome spocko and Kaila -- thanks for commenting. I appreciate all the movie recommendations. I'm with Mike, I'm going to have to watch Groundhog Day again. I do recall that after awhile, he starts to figure out why the day is repeating and he tried 'good deeds' to break the cycle. I recall he ultimately confides in Andie McD when his seduction efforts fail yet again and thats how the spell is ultimately broken...

Kaila, I also loved when Dean said that he knows Jesus loves him - I especially liked the way he looked, so serene and confidant -- a confidence lacking in the pastor.

david said...

Howdy Marjorie!

I second spocko's recommendation of Jesus of Montreal. Best Jesus flick I've seen -- anthough I have NOT seen The Passion of the Christ I woudl bet it is both more faithful to Jesus Christ and more creative than Gibson's flick.

I was going to see Saved and my plans changed at the last minute. Now I'm thinking maybe that was a good thing.