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The Minister's Musings -- December 2018

‘Tis the season for curling up with my knitting and a cup of steaming hot tea and enjoying Frank Capra’s 1946 movie It’s a Wonderful Life for the umpteenth time. When I was in seminary, I did just this and was surprised how I viewed it with different eyes. {Click "Read more..." to continue]

It was the first time I was aware of the blatant racism that seemed so normal for 1946. The way Uncle Billy’s alcoholism used for humor troubled me. Mr. Potter, the town villain, made an ugly slur about “garlic eaters” and the lovable “maid” who was playfully spanked in one scene by George’s brother was no longer charming.

None the less, taking it all in stride and context, I was captivated. Jimmy Stewart was so handsome and sweet. His continual self-sacrifice pained me and touched a core deep within me. Yet the sappy idealism, so rampant in this film, was refreshing and I found myself swept away by the sentimental love story with George and Mary.

How unrealistic that those two would still marry after Mary left for four years of college, and was hardly noticed by George except for the wonderfully funny graduation party when they fall into the swimming pool? That memorable evening, dampened by the death of George’s father, marked the beginning of a life of sacrifice and service for George to the town and the people of Bedford Falls. He demonstrated a life of compassionate caring and of placing people above all else, including himself. We know now the importance of self-care, but I loved every minute of this marvelous story of good’s triumph over evil and love, and good old-fashioned neighborly love coming to the rescue! Sigh! We need more movies like this in our lives.

I remember choking back tears as the movie depicted the harsh realities of life in such an honest way. The scene where George is devastated and defeated by Potter’s dishonest scheme to destroy the Savings and Loan yet again and he loses his temper with his children was heartbreaking. It was a candid depiction of human frustration and weariness against the constant struggles of life.

I had to laugh when George says, “You call this a happy family? And why do we have to have so many kids?” He very clearly loved his beautiful wife and four children but, yes, life can be really hard.

This movie is for every person who ever felt unappreciated, tired and just plain angry at life and its unfairness and cruelties. Clarence made me a wannabe believer in angels. I think this brilliant classic, with its outdated charm and PC mistakes, is my favorite movie of all time. I gain a new awareness every time I watch it. It affirms that every act of love, no matter how small, moves this aching world toward health and wholeness. The small things we do matter. It was ZuZu’s petals in George’s pocket that reminded that his life was indeed filled with riches.

Movie night, anyone?

In faith and love,
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