A few days back in this post I gave a little bit of my reaction to East of Eden. I have watched it once more since then, with a good friend who happened to fall asleep in the last 5 minutes. Tsk Tsk. She'll need to watch it again, methinks. Anyway, I digress, again. Today Andrew Sullivan has some reaction to it here somehow vaguely in relation to a letter he recieved from a friend about Brokeback Mountain. I haven't seen Brokeback Mountain yet, though I plan too. So I'll concentrate on what Sullivan said about East of Eden, namely...
Speaking of movies, we watched "East of Eden" last night. I'd never seen it, but its deep themes of love versus truth, of sin and salvation, seemed more relevant than ever. What Steinbeck and Kazan seemed to be saying is that truth matters, but the ultimate Christian truth is love. When adherence to truth attacks love, it destroys itself. If I were forced to state the essentials of my own Christian faith, it would be something like that. Love before everything. And the more astonishing idea: that the force behind all of us, and all of creation, is ... benign. That's what Jesus came to prove. And what some of his followers occasionally forget.
Oh my word. There is a ton to chew on there. I heart Andrew Sullivan for writing stuff like this.
First off, whether Kazan and Steinbeck were trying to get across a Christian message of Truth, and that ultimate truth being Love, I have no idea. I am not well versed enough in the history of this film, nor am I a Steinbeck scholar.
One of Sullivan's main points seems to be "When adherence to truth attacks love, it destroys itself." Looking back at the movie I see that being exactly the case in the relationship between Cal and his father. Throughout the movie there was the very black and white idea of good and bad. Cal numerous times stated that he was "bad" or "no good." His father at one scene at a dinner table said as much to him as well. The rigidness and absolute defintions of good and bad that Cal and his father put on himself did get in the way of their love for eachother, and did destroy their relationship for a while.
Outside of literature and film, in the real world in 2006, do Sullivan's thoughts hold water. That I need to think about. Yes, I do think that in the Christian faith the overiding principle as Sullivan states is, "Love before everything." But does strict adherance to truth destroy love? It's difficult. Sin is sin. And as Christians we are often tempted to confront sin where and when we see it in the public sphere. Whether it be greed, promiscuity, dishonesty, or whatever. Surely, in Sullivan's case living as a homosexual he has likely been confronted numerous times about his lifestyle by those in the faith. (For the record, I am choosing not to discuss my feelings on homosexuality here, just yet, but they are likely a bit to the left of most Christians). Whatever the case, it's a very thin line that needs to be walked. When we see sin, when we confront it, if not done with a spirit of humility, or if we go about it with less than pure motives, namely thinking our own gain we are definately obscuring the message of Love. As much as it's difficult and humbling to admit, there are absolutes in the world. And since that is the case it is very easy to rigidly adhere to them, without a spirit of love. I am not sure I have figured out how to do it yet. I am unsure I ever will. But, i hope to continue to try, and to learn through my efforts.
In related news, since I have cited Sullivan already numerous times here, I added a link to his site on the link list to the side, as well as to my friend Fiddy's creation Hunt Park Insider which is a fan run Columbus Crew web site. Enjoy.