Sunday, September 18, 2016

Coming to Grips With Our Past

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Chasing Grace: Fooling Yourself Is Easy, Forgiving Yourself Isn’t
Starring Michael Joiner, Rusty Martin, Ashlee Payne & David Temple.
Written & Directed by David Temple.


This movie has an excellent plot that has its origin several decades earlier but gets unraveled quickly when, to the shock of the whole town, a young child is killed at her own birthday party. She is the daughter of a local pastor and his wife who have two older boys.
At the burial scene, the pastor’s brother (Carter) shows up but having been known for his extensive drinking, having to be bailed out of jail regularly, and legally carrying a concealed weapon, is not welcomed. Perceived as the modern-day equivalent of the “Prodigal son”, the family, for the most part, has rejected him. The role is played extremely well by David Temple who also wrote the script and directed the movie.
The movie is filled with great dialogue and irony including the pastor preaching a week earlier about forgiveness and saying “it’s like a hug; can’t give one without getting one in return.” But then off to the police station to bail his brother out again.
Back to the funeral, Carter’s brother (Jonathan the pastor) makes it clear Carter is not wanted at the house any longer but Carter refuses to accept the edict. Subsequently, the local sheriff tells Jonathan he has ways that can teach his brother a real lesson if the pastor wanted him to. Aware of all this animosity, one of the two boys also gets aggressive and that has its own sub-plot which in itself is most engaging. Meanwhile the mother, objects to her husband not forgiving his brother. And the conflict now spreads to several fronts.
Three months later as equilibrium starts to set in the pastor gets into a mysterious car accident with a friend’s car and the older teenage is charged with speeding and DUI – but not until he discovers something that ends up being crucial to the life of the whole family, for in one sense there’s more than one ‘prisoner’ in this story.
As the family starts to fall apart, mother plans a surprise family outing – to a psychologist and there, because she’s on to her husband’s habits, she breaks down and orders her husband to “come clean or else” begging that the negative legacy stop. Ashlee Payne (with many other movie credits to her name) does a great job in that role.
Carter who wants to be forgiven by his brother, remarks, “You’re not sounding very Christian; how can you not forgive me?”  A good question. And the answer lies in Jon’s past. That leads to the revealing of more of the history between the brothers and the family they grew up in. Still no resolve and soon Carter considers taking his own life, holding his gun to his own head.
The truth has a way of coming to the surface, and it is not long before the elders of his church ask Jonathan to take a leave of absence.  The younger son starts to think about his role in his little sister’s death and once again mother comes up with the answers he and perhaps many of us who have had similar question in our own lives, need to hear.
Brother Carter is arrested and roughed up – more than was intended and ultimately is believed to have drowned.
At long last, we are allowed to see what really happened that day at the birthday party as Jonathan starts to reflect on his role in the death of his beautiful little girl.
The rest of the story and all the suspense along the way, I’ll leave for you to watch.  Suffice it to say, that with the exception of a gun being held to one’s head, while no actual shooting or death is seen on camera, this is a great family story with lots to talk about afterward.  Highly recommended.
The movie ends with a gentle reminder as follows: Most people focus on the prodigal son when they hear that story, but we should never forget the importance of the brother.


By Ken B. Godevenos, President, Accord Resolutions Services Inc., Toronto, Ontario, September 17, 2016. www.accordconsulting.com

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