Monday, November 29, 2010

Faith Based Drama Criticism?

The current Broadway revival of Driving Miss Daisy has prompted a little bit of critical discussion, most of it centering on how well this seemingly sentimental "two hander" holds up.

You can read some of the reviews on StageGrade, which aggregates the critical consensus of Alfred Uhry's play into a letter grade of "B". Meanwhile, on Parabasis the play has few defenders.

I own a few volumes of sermons which the Reverend Peter Gomes has delivered at Harvard, and as I was looking through some of the Advent sermons this past weekend I just happened to come across this:

When in St. Lukes' Gospel Jesus is asked about his family, again, and whenever Jesus is asked about his family by his contemporaries, it is always with an edge because they know more than we would like them to know about Jesus's family. They ask the question that is designed to embarrass and humiliate him: they say, "Who are your people?" and he answers, "My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God and do it." That's who my family is, those who hear God's word and who do it. It is not my mother it is not my sisters it is not my brothers, it is not my great grandfather, it is not my great uncle Harry: family is now redefined in terms of those who hear God's will and who do it.

Because of that consciousness, because of Jesus's redefinition of the family, I always cry in the last scene of the movie Driving Miss Daisy, one of my favorite films. Think of those two antagonists, for that is what they are, from different worlds, thrown together by the circumstances and necessities of life, and bonded, as we watch this film evolve, by an unspeakable love which neither of them can or dares enunciate, a love that transcends their earthly stations and relationships. The family is absolutely useless, bumbling son and obnoxious daughter in-law. It's the chauffeur who in the end is family, and in that last scene we see them sitting together in the nursing home, he feeding her pie and she taking what small pleasure she can in it and in him. You see, it becomes clear here that family is not a function of blood or of heredity or kinship, but rather of call and response. Relationships are no longer static or defined by status: they are dynamic and transforming, and it is called love.

The above quote is from the collection of sermons There Is A Plan! It is the sermon for the Fourth Sunday of Advent.

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