May 18, 2006
Sermon for Thursday, May 18, 2006
I want you, in order to honor this great man (yes, even though a papist), to go to your video stores and rent the following motion picture: Meet John Doe. If you have seen it, watch it again! What else do you have to do with your wretched lives!
Why this picture? Because although Capra is often dismissed as a sentimental manipulator or a mere jingoist by no-nothings, Communists, and other academics, his films exhibit a highly sophisticated understanding of the power of the word—written and spoken. (State of the Union and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington are other examples of this theme.)
Words can be used to create community, to foster hope, to broadcast truth, and to reconcile. Or they can be used to generate fear, broadcast lies, disseminate propaganda, and fracture communities into rage-filled mobs.
The potency of the word lies in the Word, who spoke and worlds were made from nothing, who spoke and children were healed in their sick beds, who spoke and sins were forgiven and Pharisees shaken. Who died and with the words "It is finished" granted all who believe eternal life.
Generations of literary theorists have attempted to rob the word of its power in order to render human experience meaningless. They have failed. They will fail. The Word lives and reigns.
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