February 8, 2006

Can We Abuse Grace?

Posted in film at 7:33 pm by Jerry

I saw the movie Dogville for the first time, last night. I’m still working out what is being communicated in it. However, this is what I have so far:

“Grace,” the main character, tries to prove her worth in a small town by being a positive influence in everyone’s lives. However, her belief in relative morality allows the town’s people to blackmail her with no judgement from her. Eventually, she realizes she would never take advantage of others as they have done to her, no matter what kind of situation she would have grown up in. Then, when given the power to correct “the problem,” the pendulum shifts, and she takes an extreme opposite approach to the town.

If you know anything about the director Lars von Trier, you’ll know that he deliberately makes you suffer with his work (notice that I didn’t say ‘suffer through his work’). Becky has been exposing me to his movies, and I have to say I have a Love/Dread relationship with Trier’s work so far. Dogville was the second movie I’ve seen of Trier’s. The first was Dancer in the Dark, of which I must explore again. Off hand, I can tell you that Dancer in the Dark gave me an appreciation for musicals — this is an amazing feat!

Trier’s creative work in Dogville is, to me, an invitation to find a proper judgement of justice between the two “arrogant” extremes of condescending relativity and vigilante legalism.

On another note, Grace’s name catapulted me into an abstract tangent and brought me here — How should a Christian respond if Joe Schmoe turned to her/him, and said:

Who has the power to be graceful? You? Me? God? Everyone? If you have this power, can I expect you to be more graceful? Oh, wait, how can I expect more grace if I don’t deserve more? But then again, what’s stopping you from being more graceful to me? Isn’t the nature of grace giving me favor I don’t deserve? Hey, if you’re holding out on giving me grace, then you’re not so graceful, are you?

In fact, when you invited me to be a part of your church, you said, “God lives within the hearts of everyone who belongs to the church not because of what they have done, but because of God’s grace. God loves us, and because He first loved us, we’re able to love others.” So where’s the love? You’ve been somewhat graceful to me, but if God is in you, you should be able to do much better than this, shouldn’t you? If this is the best you can do, don’t you think God wants you to do better? Shouldn’t you at least try to do better, for God?

Give me more of your time, money, encouragement, and labor! Hold me! You’re not afraid to love me, are you? Don’t be afraid. You said, “In perfect love there is no fear.” If “God truly is love,” then give me your love!

1 Comment »

  1. […] Is human forgiveness an act of weakness so that God may show his strength? Is forgiving someone an attempt to feel better about ourselves by recognizing the plight of others? Can forgiveness condone wrong behaviour? Does forgiveness excuse evil? Is forgiveness an act of repressing or covering hurt feelings? Is there a “Humpty Dumpty” version of forgiveness? […]

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