Monday, June 26, 2006

Syriana

Yesterday a pal and I saw George Clooney’s Syriana, newly out on DVD. I love George Clooney, and knew how committed he’d been to the making of this film, and was looking forward to seeing it…but, alas, I didn’t become as emotionally engaged in the story as I thought I would; maybe I’ve reached the point of jadedness where the premise of the movie – the mutually self-serving, cynical collusion between governments, big business and the various underworlds that operate under the radar of polite society -- no longer holds any shock or surprise value.

For me, though, the most memorable and disturbing part of Syriana was the subplot involving two young Arab men who’d become radicalized by their ill-treatment at the hands of an Arab dictatorship supported by the U.S., and wound up in a madrassa, a fundamentalist Islamic school, where they were trained to become suicide bombers. Now, if this had been a big-budget, lowbrow film, the head of the madrassa would have come right out of the Villain department of Central Casting – the Middle Eastern equivalent of a black-hatted, mustachio-twirling scofflaw. Instead he was portrayed as quiet, friendly, compelling, morally unambiguous and sincerely pious; honestly, scenes of his interaction with the two young men reminded me of Jesus as depicted in biblical epics like The Greatest Story Ever Told.

It was a sobering reminder that sincere, devout people who truly believe they’re carrying out the will of God can do very, very, very bad things to other human beings – crimes as bad as the most amoral and self-serving among us are capable of committing. So whenever we’re tempted to play the Good Us Vs. Evil Them game, we need to reality-check ourselves and our own capacity for hate and hurt.

6 comments:

Dash said...

THANK YOU, LC! This is an important lesson. We all need to remember this. I know I do. Thank you for the challenge.

God Bless.

Questing Parson said...

This is a timely and well-needed post. Thanks.

aBhantiarna Solas said...

Amen ...

LutheranChik said...

Another irony for me was the fact that, if you watch how the madrassa headmaster interacts with the boys in the film, it looks an awful lot like the advice one is given at outreach/evangelism seminars.

Teri said...

indeed the people behind these operations are often incredibly pious...which makes the half-baked islam i see on the streets of cairo look just a little bit better.

not to be picky, but i just want to clarify for non-Arabic speakers (especially those living in a place with bad media) that in arabic "madrasa" simply means school, not specifically a fundamentalist scary terror school. I am a "mudaraysah" (teacher) and I teach "dars" (lessons) in a "madrasa" (school). Here ends today's Arabic lesson.

Rainbow Pastor said...

Thanks for this post, LC. I'm reading Jim Wallis' "God's Politics," and he makes this point over and over. And it's an important one.