Category Archives: film

The Keys of the Kingdom

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In Keys of the Kingdom, Gregory Peck plays Father Chisolm, a young, humble, authentic priest who is sent to China after a lack of success in his home of Scotland. His mentor, a bishop feels Fr. Chisolm will thrive in China.

The story’s told in flashback. It begins with an old Fr. Chisolm getting reprimanded and told his unorthodox teachings are forcing him to be removed from his hometown parish. The bishop who makes this threat is staying at Chisolm’s rectory. Before he goes to sleep, he picks up Fr. Chisolm’s memoirs and reads of his extraordinary life.

Chisolm’s father and mother were killed in a riot against Catholics. He’s brought up by and aunt and almost marries as a young adult but circumstances lead him to stick with his choice of the priesthood. As a young priest, his parishioners don’t appreciate his questioning and some of his theology. His mentor has a hunch that Fr. Chisolm would be right for a deserted mission in China.

When Fr. Chisolm arrives in rural China, every believer has left as they really only came for the free rice. The church is in ruins. Slowly, Fr. Chisolm rebuilds and stays true to his principles and beliefs even if it means losing the church or being treated like an inferior by a haughty former classmate.

I have such an appreciation for anyone who pulls up stakes and moved to Asia before the comforts and connections of our era. No internet, reliable heat or a/c, few books or letters from home must have taken ages.

At one point the political climate in China shifts and warlords threaten the mission.

I found the movie compelling and was better than average for avoiding the stereotypes so common in the 1940s. His performance is carries the film and I would never have guessed it was Peck’s second film. It seemed like a biography, but apparently it’s based on a novel, not a real life.

My only complaint is I wish they hadn’t skipped through the years of turmoil and war in China. They show early 20th century violence, but explain and show little of the revolution that erupted. The film jumps from one attack when Fr. Chisolm was probably in his late 30s to Chisolm as an old man. By weaving in Fr. Chisolm’s ecumenical beliefs and his strong friendship with an atheist, the film feels modern.

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A Thankful Woman’s Book of Blessings

On Wednesdays, Judy, creator of an inspiring blog, A Thankful Woman’s Book of Blessings encourages participants to list their blessings, to give thanks for the five things in the past week and then link to Judy’s blog.

Be sure to also check out her other blog and her website when you visit.

This week I am thankful for:

  1. This meme because I get so busy and distracted, which is something I’m working on, but this weekly habit makes me stop and take stock in my blessings. It’s also a good way to connect with other faith-filled bloggers.
  2. Pot roast. Last night’s comforting pot roast and mashed potatoes made getting through winter much easier.
  3. The British drama, Wives and Daughters, which was shown in 1999 but I never saw it. It’s an adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell‘s novel set amongst stately houses. I’m a sucker for these stories and while it’s basically a Cinderella story, it’s well done.
  4. Cherry crepes. Sally and I have a ritual of going to Walker Bros. Pancake House every couple weeks and that’s what I always order. Hmmm. Note that I haven’t been listing any form of exercise here. Maybe I need to get moving despite my inclination to hibernate.
  5. My Aunt Kathleen, who’s had some tough times, but always looks on the bright side. I got to see her Sunday at brunch.

Of Gods and Men

The Award-winning Of Gods and Men is powerful. I won’t soon forget this film based on a true story. Set in Algeria, the film depicts a small Trappist monastery in an area plagued by Islamic terrorists who slowly encroach on the monks’ quiet life.

Much of the film revolves around the question of whether the monks should leave. Should they go back to France? To another monastery in a safer place? The film focuses on the monks’ life and place in the community where they humbly and respectfully provide medical services and companionship to their neighbors.

A very compelling film. A must-see.