Showing posts with label war. Show all posts
Showing posts with label war. Show all posts

30 January 2014

The Railway Man

Good films tell good stories; 'The Railway Man' is a great film. This is the true story of Eric Lomax, a prisoner of war under the Japanese in Thailand, the brutality of building the Burma Railway, his later marriage and subsequent friendship with one of his Japanese captors.

The Railway Man
The Railway Man
Donna and I went to see 'The Railway Man' last night. What a film!

It stars Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman and is a marvellous story of redemption, forgiveness, freedom and life. It's based on real events and real people.

Eric Lomax (Colin Firth) is an ex-soldier. He had served in the British Army in Singapore at the time when the Japanese captured the city. As Japanese prisoners, he and his fellow servicemen suffered most terribly while constructing the railway through Thailand and Burma (the railway made famous by the film 'Bridge over the River Kwai').

Memories and freedom - Lomax was always fascinated by railways but couldn't forget or deal with his secret memories of wartime captivity and torture. He met Patti (Nicole Kidman) on a train journey in northern Britain and they fell in love. Later they married, but Eric's past haunted him until a friend discovered that Takashi Nagase (Hiroyuki Sanada), the Japanese interpreter who had assisted in his interrogation, was alive and working as a museum guide on the railway in Thailand.

Eric travels to Thailand and arrives unannounced; the two men meet and a tense exchange takes place. Through this experience Eric is able to move forward in his life. Later, when a letter arrives from Hiroyuki, Eric decides he must go to Thailand again, this time with Patti.

Some parallels - 'The Railway Man' is a great film and a wonderful story. Like all good stories it contains elements of human life at its most gripping and poignent [Tweet it!]. Wisdom, anguish, love, grace and forgiveness are all clearly portrayed.

Because of this, the story has many parallels with the greatest story of them all - the story of a powerful father who sends his one and only son to bring grace, love and forgiveness to a lost and desperate people so that darkness may be replaced by light and death may be overcome by life. These themes are eternal and significant.

Questions:

  • Have you seen 'The Railway Man'? What did you think?
  • What other films would you recommend? Do any of them provoke thoughts on deep human experiences and eternal truths?
  • All stories are worth hearing, all stories contain truth. Is this statement true or false?

See also:

02 May 2011

RESPONSE: The death of Osama bin Laden

We live in a violent world. Today's news that United States forces have killed Osama bin Laden in a reinforced hideout in Pakistan just emphasises that. What are we to make of it?

Osama bin LadenViolence seems to be everywhere. A civil war is under way in Libya, pirates are active off the Somali coast, in Iran retribution is quick and severe for those who dare to oppose the authorities, the battle continues in Afghanistan and Iraq is racked by shootings and bombings. Closer to home trouble is stirring again in Northern Ireland and in Bristol there have been clashes between protesters and police over (of all things) the opening of a small, local Tesco shop.

Let's face it, there's nothing new about violence, it's as old as the human race. But it certainly hasn't gone away!

The latest news about Osama bin Laden's death is astonishing and raises many questions. You can read some of the background in an article by the BBC's Mark Mardell. No doubt more detail will emerge over the coming days and weeks. There is also likely to be strong reaction from Pakistan and perhaps from Russia and China too.

The principles - But what about the principles involved? For those with no faith it just comes down to a matter of morality and personal opinion. Is it reasonable to kill someone who has done bad things? Is it acceptable to mount a raid into another country, even if the purpose seems noble? Everyone will have opinions on these matters and we will not always agree.

Many religions teach that violence is wrong or that it is justifiable only in certain circumstances.

Love and forgive - But what for those who follow Jesus? Three things, I think.

First, it's clear that we are to love the Father. We are to be like him, pouring out love on one another and even on our enemies. Yahshua told Peter that those who choose to live by the sword will die by the sword. It is surely better for us to die by love than to die by the sword. As we judge, so will we be judged. 'Be like your Father in heaven', is not a suggestion - it's a command. But be warned, loving may cause us to die. If we truly love we will certainly die to self. But we may also die physically in situations where violence might have 'saved' us. It's better to be saved by grace than to be 'saved' by violent action.

And secondly, we are to forgive as we have been forgiven. If someone murders my wife or my child I am to forgive them. That's hard, isn't it? We are not called to seek revenge or punishment. We are not even called to seek justice. We are called to forgive.

Forgiving a wrong often seems like excusing evil. In fact forgiving and loving our enemies pours fire upon them. Forgiving is harder than lashing out with the tongue or with the fist or a firearm. Grace and patience lead us to love and forgive. Anger leads us into sin.

The actions of others - And the third point is this. Not only are we to forgive our enemy, we are not to judge others who make different choices.

So what about Osama's death? It's not for me to say. All I can say is that it would have been entirely wrong for me to kill him, but others must decide for themselves. My Father gave us freedom of will, freedom to choose. He expects me to extend the same freedom to others. I may not judge, I may only love and forgive.

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