Idol Chatter

Idol Chatter

‘Charlie Wilson’s War': Whose Side is God On?

CharlieWilsonWar.jpgAs a die-hard fan of “The West Wing” who mourned its disappearance from network television, I’ve missed American politics as processed through the quirky and brilliant mind of Aaron Sorkin. Lucky for me, “Charlie Wilson’s War” provides another shade from Sorkin’s palette, one which swaps his trademark crackling dialogue for a fast-paced, charm-filled snapshot of historical American politics.
If you haven’t yet witnessed the film’s award-season blitzkrieg, “Charlie Wilson’s War” is the true story of a relatively unknown skirt-chasing, whiskey-guzzling Texas Congressman (Tom Hanks) who organizes and spearheads the events that drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan, thereby bringing about the end of the Cold War. Though the movie’s cheeseball poster looks as if it was created to repel people in droves from theaters, this film is actually a fascinating foray behind closed (political) doors to see what goes into funding a covert war that will liberate a people and save untold hundreds of thousands of Afghan lives.
The fact that this all really happened and was chronicled in the George Crile book of the same name (whose subtitle is the longest I’ve ever seen and simply must share: “The Extraordinary Story of How the Wildest Man in Congress and a Rogue CIA Agent Changed the History of Our Times”) makes this Mike Nichols-directed film all the more inspiring. Charlie Wilson is an honest, if not immature, character who effects phenomenal change in the world. If he can, why can’t we?


Since I’m encouraged to wax spiritual here at Idol Chatter, “Charlie Wilson’s War” does venture into touchy religious issues, first when a crèche can’t be displayed on public property in Wilson’s district and next when a religious Congressman (played by Ned Beatty) who chairs an integral funds appropriations committee needs to be convinced that allocating more money for the war equates with him “being called to do God’s work.”
God is on the side of good, of course, and he apparently wants to rid Afghanistan of the Soviets. Who could argue with him being pro-war to save innocent Afghan lives? But does that also mean that he wants to provide a well-armed safe haven for the Taliban and Osama himself in subsequent years? Or is he bound by the constraints of time like the rest of us, unable to see even a decade into the future?
It’s a difficult theological situation and one that arises whenever God is proclaimed to be on one side of a conflict over another, whether that occurs on a battlefield, a football field or onstage aligning himself with one Grammy nominee above another.
This film actually made me wince every time someone gleefully shouted “Now let’s go kill some Russians!” Charlie Wilson’s Russians are today’s Islamic jihadists and tomorrow’s… Iranians? North Koreans? Canadians? Does that reaction make me a pacifist? More spiritual than religious? Or simply more Eastern than Western in religious thought?
Although I have nothing but praise for Tom Hanks and the eminently-watchable Julia Roberts, the real star of this movie is the story itself. In terms of performance-based awards for this particular film, since that’s all the buzz these days, my only standout vote goes to Philip Seymour Hoffman, who is simply terrific as the complex, blue-collar CIA agent Gust Avrakotos. I would actually see this film again simply for his character’s gruff and hilarious onscreen wisecracks.
— Written by Todd Havens

  • John Wayne Schlatter

    More Anti Christian and Anti Republican propaganda…The Reagan Administration had to be convinced by a drunken Clinton type Liberal to oppose the Russian invasion…Right!
    The Left keeps trying to rewrite history…Like the fictional Separation of Church and State which is NOT in the Constitution which was written in a letter by Thomas Jefferson who was not even part of the Constitutional Convention….but who DID give Bibles to school children and attended church services in the House of Representatives..The Founding Fathers DID NOT want God separated from national culture (“We have made this Constiution for a religious people, it is not safe in the hands of any others” John Adams)
    But never confuse a Liberal with facts, they are alergic to them..

  • Nixie

    Nice to see Bill O’Reilly reads Beliefnet!


    God knows exactly what he is doing. I would never doubt that. Unfortunately, we don’t always catch the follow-ups that need to be done. You just don’t go into a country and blow it up for any reason without cleaning up after yourself. Iraq is a prime example. US can’t leave unless they the people have formed a government to take charge, which is something that didn’t happen for Afghanistan. So, the Taliban and Bin Laden took over the country. Very simple.

  • Edwin

    Great movie. Humorous and interesting. Hoffman should win best supporting actor.
    On the religios issue:
    “The Christian right is trying to rewrite the history of the United States as part of its campaign to force its religion on others. They try to depict the founding fathers as pious Christians who wanted the United States to be a Christian nation, with laws that favored Christians and Christianity.
    This is patently untrue. The early presidents and patriots were generally Deists or Unitarians, believing in some form of impersonal Providence but rejecting the divinity of Jesus and the absurdities of the Old and New testaments.”
    So let’s just say that the founding fathers believed in a god but didn’t want government telling people what kind of god or how to worship.
    And if we are all equally God’s children, I don’t think God takes sides in any war.

  • Sheilagh

    Craziness. . . “rejecting the divinity of Jesus.” Where do people come up with this stuff?
    I think anyone who’s lived in a Godless society can see how a Democracy would fall apart without morality. In fact most societies sans morality eventually disintegrate into corruption, etc.
    The real question is “Is the Republican party also abandoning God to worship at the feet of the Global Free Market or will they recognize there is something more sustaining than the almighty dollar?”
    And to both Democrats and Republicans, War is War and Killing is Killing. And a great end doesn’t justify an immoral means. ( D*mn Russians and Embryos included.)
    Guess I’m just tired of all the fighting today . . .

  • Anonymous

    Interesting that God = morality to so many people. Loss of God can only, therefore, mean loss of morality.
    Also interesting since we’d be hard pressed to find ANYONE following those “modern” 612 commandments of the OT.

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