One of my new favorite movies is Timeline. I saw it a few years ago and have been lucky enough to run into it several time since; I now own the movie and it is in my top two favorite movies. I suppose part of the reason for the favoritism is that it is set in medieval Europe, which is a time that fills my imagination and my interest. But there is so much that is in this move, aside from being very entertaining, that prompts one to think. I will touch on one of those elements tonight.
In this movie there is very much a pathos that exists…on of “honor” and “loyalty.” This passion is at the heart of what can be described by one heading into battle and yelling “for God and King.” That would not have been unheard of verbally (except in the particular language or derivation of language), nor would it have been far fetched as a medieval sentiment, that was honored and valued.
Today we would look back on that idea and on the idea of a king, to whom absolute allegiance was due, even to loss and death. Yet, at least in my neck of the woods (Idaho), even today I hear similar sentiment with a little different phraseology: Rather than “God and King” it becomes, “God bless America.” It is God and country that demand my allegiance.
In this movie the interesting thing is that both sides claim that God is on their side. Both use this supposed truth to encourage their men to fight hard and to the death. so at to defeat the enemy. Now in the movie, the story develops a clear antipathy toward the English, who are the invaders and “evil” ones. When really aside from a the English leader and a few of his leaders, the majority of the force are simply fighting for their side.
Now, while I am not claiming to be a person who rises above the fray, I am noticing a similarity even with the world in which I live. Our side, the American side, is the side of Justice, freedom and democracy (so we claim), and this give us an advantage because, as we know God is for the just so he must be for us, and such a perspective gives us the right to tramp around the world and establish our version of that rightness…it doesn’t sound too different than what we portray from other eras minus the king and inserting the federal government.
Now don’t get me too wrong…I do not have an issue with a people defending themselves against attack. We have had to do that several times in the last few hundred years and basically I take no issue with that. However, if that were the whole of it, it would indeed be a lot simpler: life that is. But in almost every instance there has been much more “under the cover causes” than one ever knows about in a given situation. Still we operate on what we know. So while the idea of a “just war” exists and very well has some merit (in history and in one of the wars we currently fight), the reality that exists underneath all that destruction and patriotism are issues, profits and agendas that we probably wouldn’t line up to defend; at least I wouldn’t.
While the movie is much more entertaining than the political points it stimulated in me this evening, one of the values of the movie is a group of people caught in the fray of this battle and they are aware of both sides, as well as the history that is unfolding (because they are archeologists and because they are from the future). However they choose to act and take sides on the basis of relationships.
I mention this to because my 1st grade son came home before Christmas break and posed a question that one of his classmates had posed to his teacher. He asked “what is the point of human existence?” Then he turned to me and sought an answer to that question. I thought and I answered, “relationship, son; relationship with God and with other people.” I think this movie points at that…at least in part.