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Year: 2012

The Sapphires

Published / by Sandy

Engage with culture without disengaging your faith.

posterGenre: Musical/drama
Rating: PG
Length: 103 minutes
Starring Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Shari Sebbens, Miranda Tapsell, Chris O‘Dowd
Director: first time Aboriginal film maker and actor, Wayne Blair
Script: Tony Briggs, son of one of the women the film is based on. Cinematographer: Warwick Thornton (Samson and Delilah)

Brief synopsis

The film is set in 1968, a period when the racial divide was significant in Australian history. Aboriginal people had just received the right to vote and children were still being separated from their families. Around the globe, there was protest and revolution in the streets. There were drugs and the shock of a brutal assassination. And there was Vietnam. The sisters Cynthia, Gail and Julie are discovered‘ by Dave – a talent scout with a kind heart and a great knowledge of soul music. They travel from their home in a remote rural Aboriginal mission to Melbourne for an audition to entertain American troops in Vietnam. The sisters are joined by cousin Kay, who lives in Melbourne. They transition their singing talents from country and western to soul – Australia’s answer to ‘The Supremes’. Based on a true story, The Sapphires celebrates youthful emotion, family, community, love and respect – and music. It is a testament to resilience, spiritedness and strength.
Further information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sapphires_%28film%29

Questions for discussion
Some general questions might provide enough framework for you to discuss the movie:

  • What stood out as the main points/highlights in the movie?
  • What themes are explored?
  • What assumptions were embedded in the story?
  • What challenged you? What questions did it raise for you?
  • Are there aspects of the story that resonated with your own experience or with the experience of others in a similar situation?
  • Are there biblical or theological themes or characters that come to mind?

The following provides some particular aspects of the movie that could be explored. Feel free to use these ideas as a catalyst for further discussion and reflection.

Intents and purposes
It‘s easy to be fooled by the film as a feel good movie‘, or a sweet n‘ dumb feelgood bopper‘(Henry Barnes in The Guardian), or a workaday Australian comedy‘ (Robbie Collin, The Daily Telegraph). . What do you think the scriptwriter and film makers were hoping to achieve? (note: the credits above for the script writer, director and cinematographer).

Community
What does the film reveal about the nature of the Aboriginal community on the mission station in terms of values that hold the community together?

Stolen Generations
While the film doesn‘t have the pathos‘ of Rabbit Proof Fence that focuses on Stolen Generations, it does make reference to the ongoing threat of children being taken. At a moments notice, the black cars may roll up and children taken away. This is 1968 in Australia! Kay, the cousin, is one who has been taken as her skin is fair and she can be absorbed into mainstream white‘ culture. The incongruence between the living situation on the mission and Kay‘s world with Tupperware parties is comical but profound. It reveals the way fractures were created amongst and between families.

Character
This is not a film with a political‘ agenda but serves to highlight the strong, defiant, resilient and joyful character of the young women. For some Aboriginal people, dysfunction and dislocation have created a culture of fatigue and despair, affecting whole communities, where no hope lies on the horizon. For others, there is a determination that provides the catalyst and a means to make a change, and to thumb your nose at the naysayers‘ and racists, such as in the film. It‘s complex, but a question for consideration — what are the building blocks that enable change to happen, for people to determine their own future, to rise above being victims of abuse or disregard? What are the disincentives?

Country and western to soul
One of the film‘s strengths is the amazing soul soundtrack and the brilliant vocal performance by Jessica Mauboy. It does raise a question about what is required for success. Do the soul songs of the 60‘s serve the self-expression of the young women (a musical soundtrack for their own lives), or do the young women serve the need for people to sing like The Supremes (who would never venture into Vietnam). As it was said in the film, there were a number of wanna be‘ girl groups lined up who sing the same songbook‘ of soul songs — are The Sapphires simply groomed to provide for the market place, or is there something authentic for them in discovering soul music as a medium that provides the musical landscape of their own lives? How does the soul music contrast to the simple gospel song in their native Yorta Yorta language, which the young women sing in harmony to their mother on the phone from Vietnam? Since 1968, consider ways in which Aboriginal culture has been brought into mainstream‘ arts (for instance, the Bangarra Dance Theatre is considered Australia‘s leading Indigenous performing arts company, combining the spirituality of traditional culture with modern storytelling, <a href=”http://www.bangarra.com.au” target=”_blank”>http://www.bangarra.com.au</a>.

The film as educator
What capacity does a film have to become a vehicle to educate and inspire? In what way might telling a story like this, especially one based on real people and events, have the power to persuade and inspire about ways of becoming all one can be — for people of all cultures? How might this compare to the genre of documentary, which may have been an alternate way of telling the story of these remarkable women?

My people will be your people
The relationship with Dave Lovelace (talent scout) and Gail (mother bear‘) transcends culture — he being Irish and she being an Aboriginal Yorta Yorta woman. He speaks about her family being his family. It brings to mind the story of Ruth who, according to the biblical narrative, was a Moabite woman who married into an Israelite family. She tells Naomi, her mother in law, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” (Ruth 1:16).
What is involved when tightly contained circles of belonging‘ become more permeable to welcome and embrace what is other‘? What is involved in our global community to embrace other‘ wholeheartedly in this way?

© Rev Sandy Boyce 23rd August 2012 Pilgrim Uniting Church.
This resource is freely available to download and copy but kindly attribute copyright

Download pdf file of this resource here

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Published / by Sandy

Engage with culture without disengaging your faith.

posterGenre: Romantic comedy/drama
Rating: PG13
Length: 1 hour 58 minutes
Starring Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Maggie Smith, Dev Patel
Director: John Madden (Shakespeare in Love)

Brief synopsis
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is based on Deborah Moggach’s book, These Foolish Things, and follows a group of British retirees who decide to “outsource” their retirement to less expensive and seemingly exotic India. Enticed by brochures for the newly restored Marigold Hotel and bolstered with visions of a life of leisure, they arrive in Jaipur, Rajasthan, to find the palatial residence a shell of its former self. Though the new environment is less luxurious than imagined, they are transformed by their shared experiences, discovering that life and love can begin again when you let go of the past.  © Fox Searchlight
Questions for discussion
Some general questions might provide enough framework for you to discuss the movie, such as:

  • What stood out as the main points/highlights in the movie?
  • What themes are explored?
  • What assumptions were embedded in the story?
  • What challenged you? What questions did it raise for you?
  • Are there aspects of the story that resonated with your own experience or with the experience of others in a similar situation?
  • Are there biblical or theological themes or characters that come to mind?

The following provides some particular aspects of the movie that could be explored. Feel free to use these ideas as a catalyst for further discussion and reflection.

Growing old
The movie may be enjoyed by any age, but particularly for those who have reached retirement &/or more senior years. One writer described it as ‘An hilarious and touching comedy about growing old disgracefully’. Another writes: ‘It’s a film with appeal across the generations, tapping into universal fears of being forgotten in old age’. What were the stereotypes? What surprised you? What resonated eg identity, sexuality and seniors, disappointments and failed hopes, never too late to try something new.

Cultural
Set in the wonderful, perplexing and colourful nation of India, there are many scenes that pick up on cultural difference, cultural expectations. What stands out for you? Share some of your own experiences in another culture.

Philosophy
‘Everything will be alright in the end; if things are not alright, it means it is not yet the end’, Sonny (the well meaning and enthusiastic hotel manager) repeats several times. Kipling’s quote about treating disaster the same as triumph is also part of his philosophy. Can you identify the underlying ‘philosophy’ or approach to life of the main characters, and where it has led them. Do you identify with any of these approaches, or how would you sum up (in a sentence) your own philosophy?

Brits abroad
British holiday makers have a reputation of being in a ‘bubble’ – located in another ‘exotic’ location, but expecting all the usual British food and traditions. A kind of imperialism at work. The same could be said of holiday makers from many countries. What are the personal challenges of setting aside one’s habits, traditions and expectations and being prepared to enter into another culture?

Outsourcing
Many call centres are outsourced to India, part of the globalised market forces. What other examples of ‘outsourcing’ medical procedures are you aware of, or when people make the most of ‘cheaper’ operations in a developing country. What might be the pros and cons of this growing practice?

Travel as transforming
For better or worse, travel can be transforming. Each of the main characters respond differently to their new siutation. ‘It’s going to be extraordinary’, declares Graham, who had previously lived in India and has his own motives for being in India. ‘I’m in hell’, moans grumpy bigot Muriel (although she has some of the best lines such as: ‘I can’t plan that far ahead; I can’t even buy green bananas’). Endlessly complaining, Jean stays put at the hotel, not venturing out at all (apart from snooping on Graham, for whom she has a fancy). Her husband Douglas is keen to explore, and reads up on temples and palaces he might visit. Evelyn makes the most of an opportunity for her first ever job. Norman is ever optimistic and creative in the process of finding a partner.
What are you own experiences of travel as transforming?

India on the rise
The movie shows India as we might traditionally expect it to be, but less of the emerging middle class (particularly young adults), and new millionaires (expected to be 403,000 by 2015). Sonny tells his girlfriend: ‘You’re part of a modern India my mother cannot welcome!’ Things are changing rapidly for India. It is the world’s largest democracy with the world’s 2nd largest population, and expected to become the world’s 3rd largest economy within 20 years. Economic growth has exceeded 9% in recent years. India is a global player in telecommunications, information technology and pharmaceuticals. It is interesting to note that the SA Government is keen to enhance economic ties with India, and has placed the country on top of the list of future trade partners. India is already the state’s fourth largest export market.
Yet, India continues to face massive problems with 300 million untouchables and 70 million tribals locked into a cycle of endemic poverty. Landless farm labourers still toil under oppressive conditions for a very meagre wage and religious minorities continue to be brutally persecuted.
What is this ‘modern India’, and what might be the impact upon the population in India?

Seniors and spirituality
“If we compare our lives to dramas with various themes and dramatic plot lines, then old age is the time when the meaning of the play become clear to us.”
(Zalman Schachter-Shalomi). ‘There are many seniors approaching their final years, overwhelmed by the realization that their life achievements are quickly losing their value, and that what is lying ahead will have to be faced with a new set of “skills” (capitalself.com).
What are some of the issues of ‘wellness’ and spirituality for seniors?

© Rev Sandy Boyce 29th March 2012 Pilgrim Uniting Church
This resource is freely available to download and copy but kindly attribute copyright.

The Hunger Games

Published / by Sandy

Engage with culture without disengaging your faith.

posterGenre: Action/drama
Rating: M (mature themes and violence)
Length: 142 minutes
Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth
Director: Gary Ross

Brief synopsis
(longer plot synopsis – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1392170/synopsis)

The Hunger Games is an adaptation from Suzanne Collins’ trilogy. In a not-too-distant future, North America has collapsed, weakened by drought, fire, famine, and war. Panem takes its place – a country divided into the Capitol and 12 districts. The Capitol is a glittering city where people live lavish lives, supported by resources, food, and material goods from the districts. The district people are essentially slaves, oppressed by hunger, poverty, and military control. Each year, a boy and girl from each of the twelve desperately poor districts are selected by lottery to fight to the death on live television, broadcast for the entertainment of rich people. Katniss Everdeen, the 16 year old heroine of the story, volunteers to take her younger sister Primrose’s place for the latest match. Katniss is the responsible provider for her family in the districts. Her father died in a coal mining accident, and her mother still grieves.
The contest is staged in the wilderness (think Survivor reality TV show, but where contestants don’t vote the others out, but rather kill them in a modern version of a gladiator contest). The final winner earns wealth and fame, and food for his or her home district. But he or she must bear the memory of having murdered to win. Katniss and her male counterpart Peeta together move on to revolution, as they become the somewhat reluctant symbols of a popular uprising against Panem’s oppressive government. The Hunger Games as been described an American equivalent of Harry Potter, a story of a teen searching for meaning in a chaotic and threatening society.

Questions for discussion

Some general questions might provide enough framework for you to discuss the movie, such as:

  • What stood out as the main points/highlights in the movie?
  • What themes are explored?
  • What assumptions were embedded in the story?
  • What challenged you? What questions did it raise for you?
  • Are there aspects of the story that resonated with your own experience or with the experience of others in a similar situation?
  • Are there biblical or theological themes or characters that come to mind?

 

The following provides some particular aspects of the movie that could be explored. Feel free to use these ideas as a catalyst for further discussion and reflection.

Disparity between the rich and the poor

The country of ‘Panem’ depicts the rich living in luxury, while those in the ‘districts’ live in poverty. Here in Australia, Treasurer Wayne Swan warns that income inequality is rising in Australia. The Bureau of Statistics Household Income Survey demonstrates the rise in the gap between the richest and poorest in Australia – in 1994-95 households in the top 10 per cent earned an average of 3.78 times more than the bottom 10 per cent. By the latest survey in 2009-10 this had grown to 4.21 per cent. The gap in wealth is even starker, with the wealthiest 20 per cent of households accounting for more than 60 per cent of wealth, with an average worth of $2.2 million. The bottom 20 per cent own just 1 per cent of the nation’s household wealth at an average of just $32,000. Bureau of Statistics figures show wages have risen about 111 per cent since March 2001. But over the same period, company profits are up about 185 per cent. Some of those company profits filter through in dividends to shareholders and super funds, but the wealthier you are, the more shares you’re likely to own. Big business and unions tend to hog the limelight in Canberra because they’re more organised and have much bigger resources to fight for their cause.

  • What might the disparity in wealth in Panem in the movie reveal in a fresh way about the disparity of wealth in our contemporary world – in Australia and in our global village?
  • What biblical references or stories might inform our views about society where ‘the ‘rich get richer, the poor get the picture’ (to quote Midnight Oil’)? Perhaps explore The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12*) and Hebrew (Old Testament) prophets like Micah and Amos.

* see http://bible.org/seriespage/beatitudes-matthew-51-12 for helpful background or Dave Andrew’s Plan Be series

Counter cultural/subversive ways of changing the world

Decades ago, the districts had revolted against the “Capitol”. When they failed, the annual ‘games’ was determined to be the punishment to remind them of the futility of resistance. The spin doctors in the movie describe the ‘games’ in a propaganda film as a “pageant of honor, courage, and sacrifice” that are “how we remember our past” and “how we safeguard our future.” The games underline the way the ‘system’ favours those with wealth and power, and the masses are expected to put up with it. We see countless examples in history and in our contemporary world. Themes of resistance to oppression and hope for a better world are woven through the movie (and books). Such challenge and resistance to the ‘status quo’ is messy and difficult. It mirrors in many ways the experience of Jesus, as well as the transformative way of life Jesus offered his followers.

  • What are some contemporary examples eg Occupy Wall Street movement, Fair Trade campaign (fair trade for growers of products in the developing world)?
  • In what ways might the followers of Jesus lead by example in countering wealth and power that serve only the vested interests of a few, and serve to disadvantage those who cannot exercise power?
  • Can you recall other movies that have tackled this theme? How do you rate The Hunger Games in comparison for this theme?
  • Released in Australia just before Easter 2012 – are there any reflections on the life of Jesus and those who longed for liberation from the Roman occupiers who oppressed the people of the land?

Movies as an entry point into compassion

We may not ourselves have experienced abject poverty and disadvantage. It’s hard to be compassionate when our experience doesn’t provide an entry point into the experience of others. Movies offer a way into ‘story’ that allows us to explore the human journey through the experience of others.

Compassion occurs only between equals. When you are able to feel pain, acknowledge suffering, you are trustworthy to share the pain and suffering of others

  • Do movies like The Hunger Games translate into a deeper sense of compassion or a commitment to justice? What happened for you as you watched the movie?

Religious themes

Panem appears to have no institutional religious life. Perhaps the absence of religious life is one way allows oppression and violence? Diana Butler Bass* writes: ‘Despite the lack of conventional religious trappings, the major theme of the novel is a deeply theological question, one that has haunted the religious imagination for millennia: Can violence – even sacrificial violence – save? When Katniss volunteers for the games, she saves her sister’s life by offering to die in place of another. This echoes the Christian teaching of Jesus’s death as a sacrificial substitution for another. But Katniss’ actions undermine the traditional understanding of self-sacrifice. Katniss is not Jesus. To save herself, she must kill others. In “The Hunger Games,” salvation cannot be accomplished only by death but by murder. The game arena is a profane altar-where the teens slaughter each other to placate the emotional and political “gods” of the capital and reinforce belief in the system that binds the society.

Peeta, the other District 12 tribute, understands that violence never saves. Even seemingly noble or sacrificial death breeds more violence. Violence always serves oppressors, never the oppressed. “I don’t want them to change me in there,” he tells Katniss of the arena, “Turn me into some kind of monster that I’m not.” To survive means to be twisted into one who murders others for entertainment and food. These games are not about fame and victory. They are about one’s fundamental sense of identity, about the impossibility of human dignity under the Capitol’s rule. “I keep wishing I could think of a way to show the Capitol they don’t own me,” Peeta says, “That I’m more than just a piece in their Games.” Peeta wants to subvert this ritual violence for the sake of his humanity. He not only wants to survive; he wants to be free.

Ultimately, “The Hunger Games” argues for a human future of love and non-violence by immersing us into the voyeuristic orgy of violence brought about by inequality and injustice. Viewers must take stock of the limits of violence as a way of freedom and redemption. Katniss is a powerful figure, athletic and smart. But she is saved – and saves others – by reason and love, not hatred and fear. “The Hunger Games” points out that the world envisioned by spiritual leaders like Gandhi and Martin Luther King is infinitely preferable to a world of “bread and circuses,” where the many are controlled by the very few. The future hangs between these two visions: Will we be Panem or some other sort of world?

No religion in “The Hunger Games”? The story eschews religions that glory in crusades, jihads, nationalism, militarism, and imperialism. In Panem, there is no place for religion that supports injustice. The enslaved neither want nor need such a religion. Banished are religions that celebrate bloodlust. There is too much of that already.

Yet “The Hunger Games” celebrates faith – faith in family, faith in friendship, faith in song, faith in justice. “The Hunger Games” proclaims that beyond the fences of fear built to enslave, control, and guard, there is joy, beauty, and wonder. In the end, there is true freedom, and the hard-earned hope that human beings can create a better world based not in sacrificial violence but in sacrificial love’.

(* Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/guest-voices/post/the-hunger-games-spiritual-but-not-religious/2012/03/21/gIQAgYJmTS_blog.html)

Heroes and those who fire our imagination

Depth psychologist James Hillman writing in The Soul’s Code: “Extraordinary people excite; they guide; they warn; standing, as they do, in the corridors of imagination – statues of greatness, personifications of marvel and sorrow – they help us carry what comes to us as it came to them. They give our lives an imaginary dimension. . . . making our world less impossible through familiarity with theirs.”

* Discuss in relation to the movie and other examples of people, past and present.

© Rev Sandy Boyce 29th March 2012 Pilgrim Uniting Church
This resource is freely available to download and copy but kindly attribute copyright

The Iron Lady

Published / by Sandy

Engage with culture without disengaging your faith.

posterGenre: Biography/drama
Rating: M(mature themes and violence)
Length: 101 minutes
Starring Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent, Richard E Grant
Director: Phyllida Lloyd (‘Mamma Mia’)

Brief synopsis
(see also Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Iron_Lady_%28film%29)

The film depicts former British PM Margaret Thatcher (portrayed brilliantly by Meryl Streep), from her teenage years as a shopkeeper’s daughter to her retirement years. The film covers her decision to enter politics – seemingly against the odds, and then to contest for leader of the Conservative Party. Actual footage is shown newsreel style to demonstrate the tough circumstances in Britain during her time as leader. A large part of the film is depicted from the perspective of Lady Thatcher as a fragile elderly lady enduring dementia. The film relies on flashbacks to depict her earlier life, along with ‘conversations’ with her long dead husband Denis. It is a surprisingly intimate and compassionate portrait of a complex woman who ‘broke the glass ceiling’ and the barriers of gender and class to take on leadership in a male-dominated world.

 

Questions for discussion

Some general questions might provide enough framework for you to discuss the movie, such as:

  • What stood out as the main points/highlights in the movie?
  • What themes are explored?
  • What assumptions were embedded in the story?
  • What challenged you? What questions did it raise for you?
  • Are there aspects of the story that resonated with your own experience or with the experience of others in a similar situation?
  • Are there biblical or theological themes or characters that come to mind?

The following provides some particular aspects of the movie that could be explored. Feel free to use these ideas as a catalyst for further discussion and reflection.
(Note: ‘MT’ used for Margaret Thatcher)

Power
The film portrays MT as a plucky underdog defying a male-dominated establishment. Her political philosophy was shaped in her teenage years by her father’s beliefs, a proud shopkeeper and Mayor, who tells her: “Never run with the crowd. Go your own way.” She was determined to push her agenda as a leader, even in the face of opposition. MT, as well as many other British PM’s, used a ‘kitchen cabinet’ approach to decision making, where trusted advisors worked through issues and made decisions which were expected then to be rubber stamped by the Cabinet. A leader who is surrounded by ‘yes’ people can ensure that there is rarely a need for robust discussion and ‘fierce conversations’.

How does one balance ‘going your own way’ with working in collaboration with a team for the common good (and national interest)?
How do you reflect on the statement, ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely?
To what extent has political life become focussed on the leader rather than the leadership team actively working together?
How do reflect on this statement in light of MT’s style: ‘Authority cannot be bought or sold, given or taken away.’

Authority is about who you are as a person, your character, and the influence you’ve built with people; power erodes relationships. You can get a few seasons out of power, even accomplish some things, but over time power can be very damaging to relationships. We resort to power because our authority had broken down. Power is the degree to which people will accept your decisions without question. Influence is the ability to convince people of the validity of a decision. Using power when influence is needed is usually bad in the long run. Using influence builds power which can then be used very sparingly when absolutely needed’.

I will not die washing dishes
In the end, MT is alone in the kitchen washing a cup.  Ironically, she had told Denis when he proposed marriage to her that she never would become a conventional wife.  She would not die washing dishes.  Indeed, she relied on her husband to maintain the home front in her absence. In her autobiography she wrote: “I could never have been Prime Minister for more than 11 years without Denis by my side.” He saw his role as helping her survive the stress of the job. What are contemporary examples of partners of leaders who either provide caring support to the leader, or significant power in the background that influences policies? Is there a danger in one or the other approach? Does a leader in touch with the ordinary things in life like washing dishes have a better handle on issues affecting people and therefore more capacity for effective public policies and decision making, or do the demands of home life detract from such tasks?

Movie as history, history as movie
Is the movie focussed more on an old lady with dementia remembering her early life, or MT the Prime Minister? Is it satisfying in either of these realms? Is this the Iron Lady we know from history, or a ‘melted down’ version? The British newspaper The Guardian expressed concern that the narrative of the film overlooks Thatcher as “economy destroyer and warmonger” in favour of an “exclusive focus on Thatcher as a woman triumphing against the odds.” The movie overlooks the ‘collateral damage’ of her government policies of deregulation, privatization and globalization, and gives no explanation or background to the events in Britain at the time. The events are simply depicted as newsreel through the memory of an old lady so they are necessarily selective and subjective.

The film also skims over the surface of her much of her own personal and family life, and even her significant academic credentials (her training as a barrister – reflected in her capacity to argue a case strongly, and training as a research chemist – reflected in her forensic attention to detail). The movie lingers on the softer side of MT rather than the iron lady, including the tender dialogue with her long dead husband. When she learns of the deaths of service men after she declared war on Argentina over the Falkland Islands, we see MT struggling to contain her emotions.  The film depicts the “Iron Lady” as a mother writing from the heart rather than the powerfully cold and calculating side of the woman best known to the world. To what extent can such a movie be considered biographical and historical?

Ethical question: a living subject
There are plenty of movies made about people who are still living, but this one has drawn harsh criticism. Streep defended her choice to portray MT’s mental decline while MT was still alive: “Some people have said that it’s shameful to portray this part of a life, that the ebbing end of life is something that should be shut away and that people need to be defended from the images of those suffering from dementia. But I don’t think it’s shameful. I don’t see why it can’t be shown. It’s a film much more about ageing and elements of dementia rather than about an amazing prime minister.” What ethical questions might be considered when making a movie about a ‘living subject’?

The Falklands: the untold story
The famous economist Milton Friedman observed that “only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change”. Once a crisis has struck, the University of Chicago professor was convinced that it was crucial to act swiftly, to impose rapid and irreversible change before the crisis-racked society slipped back into the “tyranny of the status quo”, and to embed free market ideas into the society. The Falklands war in 1982 served such a purpose for Margaret Thatcher: the disorder resulting from the war allowed her to crush the striking miners and to launch the first privatisation frenzy in a western democracy. There are multi-layers in Government decision making, some of which are public, and much of which is hidden. The movie depicts MT in Churchill mode, fighting for what is Britain’s property, rather than an opportunist and strategist seeking to establish free market ideas and in the process to crush the striking miners. How do we tell history to reflect multi-layers such as this? Are there other examples?

Dementia
MT says of her aging reflection, “I don’t know who she is.” As people are living longer, dementia has become one of the issues of ageing. In what ways does the film contribute insights about ageing and dementia, and how does it resonate (or not) with your own experience with family and friends?

Thoughts are powerful
On a visit to a doctor, MT reveals she is more interested in what people think than what they feel.  So, when he asks her what she is thinking, she replies, “Thoughts are powerful, they bring action, and actions over time become habit, and habit becomes character.” In these lines delivered by the ageing MT, we see a woman of conviction that informed her leadership style. What are the strengths of her approach, and what might be the weaknesses of a leader who has less focus on feelings?

Let us have a king….
The ancient Hebrew people demanded to have a king like their neighbouring countries. Yahweh declined to install a king, given the human propensity for corruption. But when the people continue to insist, Yahweh grants their request. The succession of kings turned out to be mainly a flawed group of people who did not serve the interests of their people, and failed to give priority to the poor and marginalised. It is striking to consider examples of leaders in history who begin with good intentions and motives but who succumb to corruption. What examples come to mind? How does the example of Jesus contrast to this corruption and what was his critique of the religious and political leadership of his time? Are there positive models of leadership that come to mind? Is the political process itself somehow corrupting of leaders? How do you reflect on the suggestion that by the time someone is in a position to exercise power, they have been corrupted by the system.

Additional Reading:  http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=29612

© Rev Sandy Boyce 8th January 2012 Pilgrim Uniting Church, www.pilgrim.org.au

This resource is freely available to download and copy but kindly attribute copyright