Most of last night’s episode of “Lost” focused on revealing the secrets of Mr. Eko, one of the survivors from the tail section of the plane, who we learn knows all-too-well the history behind the crashed plane Charlie had discovered loaded with statues of the Virgin Mary. Nevertheless, it was some of the smaller moments of last night’s episode that truly moved me.
While Mr. Eko and Charlie made their way to the crash site, we were treated to glimpses of seemingly insignificant moments of kindness and grace among the community of survivors left on the beach as well as those who were living in the hatch. Kate volunteered to give the ailing-but-still-caustic Sawyer a haircut. Michael, who previously had never gotten along with Sawyer, gave Sawyer some words of encouragement. Jin and Sun brought the lonely, angry Ana Lucia–still reeling from guilt over Shannon–some food. Jack took time to extend his sympathy to Michael for the loss of his son, Walt, and confessed he should have said something to Michael much sooner. In some of these exchanges, the compassion and mercy that were offered was readily accepted, as when Ana’s face lit up over Jin and Sun’s gift of food, but in other cases, as with Sawyer, the act of kindness was not so readily accepted. It didn’t matter though. We as viewers could see that just the offering of grace itself seems to begin to do the work of healing in the lives of Ana, Sawyer, and Michael.
Watching one of the episode’s final montages last night, I couldn’t help but be reminded that, like the surviving passengers of Oceanic Flight 815, we all are in need of a sense of community where we can extend and receive hope, love, and forgiveness to each other. Otherwise we, too, will be become spiritually, well, lost.
Queen Latifah made me cry. I wouldn’t normally admit that I teared up during a heartwarming, inspirational romantic comedy, but I’m willing to go on the record so that others might not pass up “Last Holiday, “a remake of the 1950 movie of the same name. In it, Queen Latifah plays Georgia Byrd, a demure, church-going New Orleans department store worker, who decides to travel to Europe and pursue her dreams of staying in a grand hotel and eating foods prepared by a world famous chef after being told she has only three weeks to live. Once in Europe, Georgia’s new-found passion for life leads to a comical case of mistaken identity and some truly hysterical scenes in the hotel spa.
While not exactly ground-breaking storytelling–and there’s a somewhat distracting political subplot–the laughs are plentiful, the scenery fantastic, and it’s great to see Timothy Hutton and Gerard Depardieu back on the big screen. As a general rule, I try to avoid anything that could be labeled “inspirational,” but Queen Latifah’s energy embodied the reinvigorated Georgia Byrd so perfectly that I couldn’t help but get caught up in the tale and get a bit verklempt at the appropriate moments. Georgia’s story speaks to everyone who has ever postponed chasing their dreams, and that’s probably a good 99% of the population.
When interviewing Queen Latifah about the film and her own spiritual journey, I admitted that, although my usually-stony media-maven self shies away from movies that are heartwarming, she replied,”Get your ‘heartwarm’ on, girl!” (You can read the interview here.) So to all of you looking for an enjoyable–and, yes, inspirational–film to watch this weekend, go and get your “heartwarm” on with “Last Holiday.”
As my effort to catch up on “The Sopranos” continues, I am now making my way through Season Two, currently available through HBO’s “On Demand.”
Two episodes in particular have caught my attention with their interesting religious themes. Episode 20, “D-Girl,” revolves around Anthony Jr’s introduction in school to existentialism, which provokes him to suddenly question life’s meaning and–most concerning to his parents–the existence of God. (As we all know, reading Nietzsche and Camus sometimes will have that effect.) Anthony Jr’s existential angst is juxtaposed with his Confirmation celebration and his family’s strained attempt to welcome him as a full member into the Catholic Church.
In Episode 21, “Full Leather Jacket,” a central family member and aspiring young mob boss has been shot, and the episode opens with everyone surrounding his bed and praying. The most interesting twist to this development is Carmela’s special petition to God. Carmela Soprano, Tony’s wife, is the moral compass of the series as well as the family’s religious center. Filled with grief, Carmela kneels in an empty hospital room and prays to Jesus, offering up her entire family’s sins to him (which, if you watch the show, is quite a hefty offering) if Jesus will let this beloved family member live. Lo and behold, Carmela’s hotline to heaven works (or so it seems), and the subject of her prayers not only wakes up, but wakes up and claims that he has been to hell and back–and that when all the mafiosos die, himself included, hell is where they are all destined to spend the afterlife.
In addition to a L’il Kim reality show–chronicling the rapper’s last two weeks before going behind bars–BET, the cable station aimed at African-American viewers, is hoping to liven up its lineup with a weekly show called “Meet the Faith.” The concept is modeled on NBC’s venerable Sunday political chat show, “Meet the Press,” with CNN political analyst Carlos Watson playing host to religious leaders discussing current affairs. But BET’s religion panel won’t feature insiders bantering about culture-wars topics, promises BET pres Reginald Hudlin. Instead, notables from the religion world will talk about “what is right and wrong, what makes better human beings, what connects to our spirituality,” Hudlin says.
Any meaningful religion blab on broadcast TV wouldn’t have a chance to keep its head above the right-left fray. Can BET? Certainly, “Meet the Faith” will benefit from the open dialogue African-American churches have historically maintained between religion and society. But that easy dialogue has in part depended on a consensus affliation with the Democratic Party. With African-American ministers increasingly lining up with Republicans (see last Sunday’s “Justice Sunday” in Philly), the new show may showcase the growing diversification of the African-American church’s voice. “Meet the Faith” premieres March 19.