Saturday, 31 July 2010

the inn of the sixth happiness

These are not so much reviews as they are vicarious ways by which I blog the minutiae of my life – a banal mode of blogging I pretend to be above. I have been reading The Meaning of the City, it is a hard book, a hard book like Tolle's A New Earth, hard for hanging its entire thesis on the willfully vague undefinitions of crucial words ('city'); hard in containing just enough convicting truth to unsettle and just enough error to frustrate; hard because it rubs salt in the open wound of architecture in my life.

I had just concluded a fairly damning passage which claims, “War is an urban phenomenon..” (p51) Here we see, in the way that epics of the Inn's age did so tidily, a city struck and its inhabitants scattered to the provinces. So, along with a bleak jolly up to Angkor this week, I have had Ellul's theology of the 'city cursed' and the 'city under judgement' illustrated in blunt parables.

War aside, more pertinently the film shows mission strategically (?deliberately on her part) focused on the trade hub and story-telling hub which is the city. To borrow Ellul's 'urban': is mission an urban phenomenon? Or to try to speak more precisely of the dilemma: are missionaries, where their work in a city is predicated on the city's structure and city's nature by their being in a city dependently, thereby complicit and implicated in the city's sin? I don't want to believe they are necessarily, but the line is finer and fainter than even I (or Keller or Driscoll) would want to boldly claim and a line difficult to unweave in dialogue with Ellul.

Not one to strain to put meaning to coincidences where there is none, but. This was another faith-gender-empire film that I have found myself thrust in front of, rewardingly so. If any of you are going to watch this, I would love to know how you feel the film would run with a male character in Gladys' role? The Christianity here is liberalised to the point of universalism as she expresses it, but there is still some scope to discuss why such a radically positive film about something so potentially offensive as mission has been made as late as 1958, what gives this film its license?

No comments: