Thursday, April 21, 2005

Leap Of Faith

i’ve watched this film many times in the past and loved it each time. however, when i watched it yesterday just for the sole purpose of recalling and reviewing it (with my expectations being high, the film being one of my favorites of all time), i found that though the story was definitely good, not all the scenes were absorbing.

the film tells about jonas nightengale (steve martin), a con-artist in the business of preaching god’s word and healing gullible christian believers. ironically, jonas, who readily admits to his conspiring crew as well as to other skeptics that he is a fake, is able to inspire true faith from people. when in real life true priests and evangelists can’t even stir the hardened hearts of half of their congregation. i’m not saying it’s the preachers’ fault. i’m just pointing out the irony.

jonas rationalizes his fake preaching and healing by saying that he puts up a good show. some people would go to broadway to watch a play for a steep price. sometimes, you like the play, sometimes you don’t. jonas charges nothing other than what you feel you can give in the donation basket and you always go home with a sense of hope in your otherwise purposeless life.

but somewhere in the ending, a true believer reminds jonas about his philosophy: something about a fake preacher not mattering as long as he gets the job done. and jonas answers, it makes all the difference.

and i guess that is the main premise of the movie: does it matter? does it make a difference? in a time when dan brown’s fictitious novel “the da vinci code” is selling like hotcakes and numerous books are being published either in favor or against his theories, the question deserves some pondering. the novel, by the way, controversially tells that jesus was only a man and not a god, married magdalene, the prostitute and bore children. let’s say for example that this is true and that the church wanted a great person (jesus) to back them and their teachings during their struggling years, and they had to hide this great backer’s secret (of being married and having kids) by saying that magdalene was a prostitute. i mean, what great man would marry a prostitute, right? but wait. come to think of it, i would. but then i’m not a great man. but that’s not the point. the point is if the catholic church was lying to us all the time when this pope clement what’s-his-number included only the four gospels that he thought would be of use to him, his church and his preaching, does it matter if it gets the job done? if it makes someone give alms to a beggar on the street? if it makes someone donate money to natural calamity victims? if it makes someone visit a sick person or comfort a lonely person in prison?

or would you rather take out all the smoke and mirrors and tell people jesus was just an ordinary man? that he is not worth emulating?

obviously there is no black and white answer here. which was exactly what made the movie interesting and thought provoking. was jonas, the fake preacher doing something good or not?

rating: 4 out of 5 stars * * * *
i was ready to give this one 5 stars since it’s one of my all-time favorites, but i didn’t want to be too biased as the movie did have its dragging moments.


rob said...

Very interesting, now you got me interested in the movie. I never watched it because I thought it was your typical Steve Martin comedy. But it looks like it raises some very interesting questions. My personal opinion, the fake preacher, as long as it helps people, it's ok. The ends justify the means.

rmacapobre said...

interesting choice of words: fake preacher.