Monday, July 11, 2011

Of Gods and Men

Last week, Brenden and I rented a movie called "Of Gods and Men."  When he mentioned renting it from the local redbox I was a little hesitant.  I was hoping for a more light hearted movie that night.  Then he played the trailer for the film.  After the minute and thirty seconds, I was wanting to see it.  It took on a more serious tone than I expected and had some very interesting characters in the film.

The film takes place in Algeria in 1996 during the Algerian Civil war.  The main characters are a group of nine Trappist monks.  They reside in the monastery of Tibhirine.  Around them, a village of Muslims had sprung up.  They were very involved in the community.  They lent medical aid to the villagers for free.  They celebrated special occasions with the villagers.  They also had somewhat of a co-dependance on one another.

During this time, a Muslim extremist group had risen up and had begun to use violence and terror tactics to force the people to live the way they saw that those of the Islamic faith should live.  As the terror and violence became more wide spread, Algerian officials began to request that the monks leave the country for their own safety.  Christian de Cherge was the prior of the monastery.  He had made the decision to stay.  Some of the other monks were scared of staying.  On Christmas Eve, while one of the monks was locking the gates, members of the Armed Islamic Group of Algeria stormed in and requested to speak to the Pope.  After that confusion was figured out they settled on talking with Christian.  It was great to see how he was able to calmly deal with the situation.

From there on in the movie, there is a continual discussion on whether to stay or go.  Through different conversations, teaching, and events the monks all agree to stay.  That is where they had been called to go and that is where they were going to continue their work.  Even though this may give the movie away, seven of the nine monks were kidnapped and beheaded by the terrorist group.  This took courage, humility, selflessness, and a love that goes beyond just the normal human capacity to love.  At one point, the monk who was a doctor treated one of the terrorists.  He made no distinction between him or any other man. 
This movie was one that exemplifies some of the basic Christian virtues, namely love.  I would recommend it to just about everyone to watch.  There are some graphic scenes of violence and a bit of language but over all I believe that those make the turmoil all the more real.  I would suggest going out and watching it.  If you do, please comment on this post with your thoughts on the movie.