Saturday, April 20, 2013


Last night Joyce and I had an opportunity to go out for a “date night.” We decided to go see the movie (The senior discount makes a movie night a cheap date for us) 42 - the story of Jackie Robinson’s breaking the barrier as the first African-American to play major league baseball in 1947. I had heard some good reviews of the movie, but they undersold it. I really liked this movie for a lot of reasons. First, because I love baseball and it was an important part of my childhood. This movie featured many of the players that my grandfather would talk about when I was a kid as we sat in his pickup truck listening to ball games on the radio. It was like his stories came alive in the movie. Second, it was a good reminder of how easy it is to fall into prejudice (unreasonable hatred/judgment) against others we don’t know or understand. I grew up in California in the 1960’s so I didn’t see the kind of blatant segregation and injustice the movie portrayed and it is hard to imagine an America like that. There was a line in the movie about “getting to know one another as men” as being a way to overcome group-think and that kind of racial stereotyping. I had just read in McKnight’s Book, One Life, his definition of love as “being with people and being for people.” I think this is the solution to these rifts. It requires time together to build connection.

To me, though, the biggest plus in the movie was the Christian motivation of both Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson in doing what they did. Harrison Ford, as Rickey, talks about being motivated by the judgment of God and that to say that he barred someone from baseball because “he was a black man” would be an “insufficient answer” to God’s question at the judgment seat. Rickey challenged Jackie to be like Christ and “turn the other cheek.” The movie gives us a very realistic picture of how difficult this is, but also how effective it is as Jackie becomes a hero who changes the face of baseball and the face of America as a whole. Of course, my favorite scene (I knew it was coming and was looking forward to it) was the one in which Southerner Peewee Reese moves over next Jackie at 1st base during pre-game warm-ups and puts his arm around Jackie so that his family and everyone else at the game will “know where I stand.” I pray that I will always stand up for the right side like that.

So it is obvious that I highly recommend this movie. It is well done and has a great Christian message of reconciliation that is accomplished when we live a “Cross-shaped life.”

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