Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Zookeeper's Wife: A Movie for Our Times

Never in my life have I feared war coming to America. Not during the second peak of Cold War hysteria in the 1980s; not after 9/11. Until recently. The 2016 Presidential election changed that. So much vitriol and hate from both sides. People vowing to take up arms if Hillary Clinton were elected. Attacks on black churches, synagogues, Jewish Community Centers. Indian software engineers being shot and murdered while out enjoying happy hour after work because someone mistook them for being Muslim. Muslim girls who are afraid to wear their hijab in public because of being spat upon or worse. Sometimes, the fear and anxiety the news causes me makes me feel as if I cannot breathe. In fact, I have literally stopped consuming news at the level I did prior to the election. It's too overwhelming. a Catholic I cannot look away. I was called to become Catholic because of the Church's focus on social justice. I had never seen a church so reflective of Christ's love and compassion for the outsider, the poor, the lonely and broken. Not to say there haven't been missteps and wrongs committed by the Catholic Church. However, it seems each successive Pope has worked to right many of those wrongs, with Pope Francis going farthest of all. In fact, the Jesuit parish of St. Agnes, recently announced that it is a sanctuary parish, working to uphold the dignity of immigrants. Jesuits are an order of Catholic priests who are called to live out their relationship with Jesus in the real world.
Blessing of the doors at St. Agnes parish in San Francisco: 
Give us the courage to open these doors and the doors of our hearts to all who knock and seek refuge.

It is from that frame of reference for my personal faith, that I often wonder if I would have the courage to stand up and defend my black, brown, gay, lesbian, or trans brothers and sisters who might be attacked publicly? Am I willing to sacrifice my freedom to take in friends who might be undocumented or accused of some crime (that isn't really a crime) if ICE came for them? Am I willing to put myself between a peaceful protester and someone trying to attack him or her? If things got really bad and our government sought to deport, imprison, or slaughter a particular group of people for their religious beliefs how far would I go to fight for their lives?

These are the very questions at the heart of the new Focus Features movie The Zookeeper's Wife, starring Jessica Chastain. It opens on Friday, March 31 and I am eager to see it. Set in Warsaw, Poland during World War II, this is the true story of Antonia and Jan Zabinski. The young couple, only recently appointed to run the Warsaw Zoo soon face the realities of the bombing of Warsaw by the Nazis. Without giving anything away, I can tell you that the Zabinskis very quickly have to choose between the safety of their family and helping Polish Jews who are being captured and sent to concentration camps.

You can see the trailer here.

This is a compelling story for me right now. I have imagined what I would do in a similar situation and the choices are bleak. Obviously, as a Christian – no wait – as a decent human being – I hope I would maintain the courage to act on my convictions and protect anyone in jeopardy. But what if I were faced with someone murdering my child because of what I did. Could I do the right thing then? What if I were killed and my children left alone to fend for themselves? What then?

I fear we may all face these choices at some point, all the while praying we do not. This movie provides a lightsource to allow viewers to examine those hidden places in our hearts where our deepest fears battle for space with our mustard-seed faith. Like any radical act of love in our lives, sometimes doing the right thing means blindly stepping out in faith, trusting that no matter the outcome, by making the right choice, by acting courageously in love of mankind or for an individual or in your love for Christ, you are doing what you are meant and called to do.

I encourage you to check this movie out and to make that a little easier for one lucky reader, I have a $25 Fandango gift card to give away! If you need more convincing to see the movie, check out this review by NBC commentator Hugh Hewitt.

To be eligible to win, please comment below and tell me what you think about the trailer. Does it look good? What are your thoughts on faith and fear? I'd love to hear your thoughts! If you have not already liked my Facebook page, go do that and you'll get a second entry! A winner will be randomly selected on Sunday, April 2, 2017!

Now...Decide what to be and go be it!