Saturday, October 18, 2008


I just watched Strictly Ballroom, a movie I used to watch with my high school girlfriends. We even analyzed it once for an English project, comparing it to the hero's journey. Watching it today, I am situated in several contexts that are new since high school. It is now an important part of my belief system that Jesus does not coerce people, that he is a liberator. Montessori's philosophy of teaching also stresses the importance of following the child, letting the child have choices, giving the child freedom. I have dated David for over 5 years and he is all about liberating the people from the power structures that try to control them (a la Walter Wink). Finally, I have recently been so angry at the brokenness and injustice of the world (see my last blog post).

These new contexts practically make Strictly Ballroom a holy text for me. When a dozen minor characters, not necessarily sympathetic, band together at the end of the movie to support the subversion and defiance of the two protagonists, I cried. There's a line in David's novel about people doing the same thing, banding together against the forces of coercive power, and in his novel each individual acts on behalf of the hundred more who cannot. I cried reading that line, too.

I also love that the defiance takes the form of art, of dancing together. Art is powerful partly in its danger to systems of power. The moral of Strictly Ballroom is not to live in fear, another key tool of the powers that be to coerce the masses. I may add that this tool is especially relevant to the experience of our country today.

Apparently these days I am hungry for reminders that groups of people I don't even know are working alongside those I do know to bring more wholeness and justice to our world, more joy and defiance and beauty and risk and cooperative, mutual power. Hope is just as important as food for my survival. This movie was like eating.

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