Ugh, Christmas. I mean, Yay Christmas? I’ll be honest, I’m a little torn here.
1. This was meant to be my first sermon in a few years. My sister mentioned she was putting sermons up online and I decided to join her. I’m way out of practice. I actually wrote this out three times but ultimately my cold/flu/whatever got in the way and I just wanted to share what was on my mind with as little extra effort as possible. The only editing I did this time was cut out the parts where I’m walking to and from my couch at the beginning and end. I didn’t even put up my December decorations for the space. Ah well. I expect some hiccups the first time trying something new.
2. But the idea ultimately is to combine my sort of rambling review things and a more sermon-y style. Focus more heavily on lessons from various sources, particularly fiction sources. This one was meant to be It’s A Wonderful Life, but it basically only made it into the end of the video as an illustration. This is because of how my attempts to write a sermon around it worked: (A) A 2-page rant about why this is such a bad movie before I even got into any lessons or big ideas from or about it, (B) An actually good sermon, I think, but written in a more academic sermon-y style I just didn’t think I could maintain right now, and (C)A much more casual tone that matches my previous videos but I could tell was starting to turn into a rant about this movie. Ah well.
3. My non-plot problems with the movie mostly boil down to two things – George’s bad attitude and the way women are treated throughout.
The latter is especially apparent in Mary and Violet, who are pretty obvious Virgin and Whore archetypes. Mary seems to be thought of as plain and boring until George notices how pretty she is, and she spends pretty much her whole life obsessing over George. I mean, she’s working on a cross-stitch referencing their single adult conversation and plays the song they danced to that night when he drops by to see her. Like I think she probably bought that record and plays it every night just to think of him. It’s a bit creepy, especially since he treats her so badly. He steals her clothes and says the cops would be on his side when she threatens to report him, he screams in her face and shakes her, and when he’s not being quite so extreme he’s just casually mean. Violet and at least one other woman in the film are extremely objectified and Violet is portrayed as vain and boy-crazy but she’s the only character in this movie I don’t hate.
I don’t understand the appeal of George. He’s rude all the time, he yells and kicks things, he hates his town and makes sure to tell everyone all the time that their lives are meaningless since they live there. He’s just an extremely unpleasant person and it’s hard for me to imagine getting close enough to someone like that to see their good sides.
Also, let’s be real, Potter is not a nice guy and especially at the end does some bad things. But I have to wonder a little if he does see himself as saving the town. Sure no one else was going to reach his level and he doesn’t have much of a charitable streak, but he bought up failing businesses and gave people housing he thought they could afford. His crimes are thinking small and not having faith in people, it’s not like he’s actually trying to hurt anyone. I think he’s wrong and I wouldn’t want to live in his world, but I don’t like the way this movie treats him. Also, in one of the film’s most memorable scenes, George saves his business and the town by giving away his own money. It’s not the business that saves them, it’s his own generosity. Think how much more good he could do with that generosity and the money Potter’s willing to pay him. Just saying. It’s like he’s convinced he can only do good if he’s miserable.
4. I forgot to specifically mention Seasonal Affective Disorder and the fact that a lot of people are having a tough time right now. I’ve never been diagnosed with that and I don’t plan to be because I have so many other health problems I can’t really afford it, but I do notice that I get really depressed this time of year. For me, taking notice of those patterns and being aware of how my body and mind relate to the seasons has been very helpful. It’s also why a lot of my sermons/talks/vlogs/whatever around holidays have to do with what’s going on in nature. It’s not separate from us, there are reasons our holidays fall at these times and I think recognizing that can help us take better care of ourselves and make use of them.
5. Scary ghost stories! There are plenty of things written about this you can find with a simple search, but this was the one I liked the best. Before I started researching, I tried to sort of guess at why people might tell ghost stories at Christmas, other than because Halloween is fun and you should keep it going as long as possible. My first thought was that, as I mentioned at Halloween, the existence of ghosts is a kind of reassurance of an afterlife. Seeing ghosts at Christmas means your loved ones haven’t left. After researching I found a lot of other practical answers, but I wanted to mention that as well.
Hope your winter is starting off well! Next time: Something about love, probably?