Category: The Median

On-Screen Inspiration

by Dan Rupple

Darkest Hour

 In the Academy Award®-winning film, The Darkest Hour, Nazi Germany has conquered most of Western Europe and they are turning their conquering eyes upon England. Prime Minister Winston Churchill—beset by fear, overwhelmed by darkness, feeling hopeless, and outnumbered by the enemy—is about to recant his inaugural promise to “wage war until victory is won, and never to surrender”. . .  

At the advice of the King, Churchill goes to the people, seeking their perspective. Their cry to fight on and courageously never surrender gives Churchill the encouragement he needs.

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. (Heb. 3:13)

Churchill, renewed in his resolve, cuts off negotiations for surrender and addresses Parliament with these historic words:

We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender!

What overwhelming situation do you face? Where have you lost hope? Where is the enemy casting too dark a shadow over the light?

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39)

Mister Rogers . . . a Radical Faith

When Fred Rogers died of cancer in 2003, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously voted to honor “his dedication to spreading kindness through example.” (Variety) Tyler Huckabee at the Washington Post observed, “Rogers was a man defined by his Christian faith, and the message that he taught every day on his beloved children’s show was shaped by it.”

Now, as Tom Hanks is slated to portray Fred Rogers in a coming biopic, there is renewed interest—and nostalgia—about Mister Rogers and his perspective on a gentler, kinder way to endure life’s storms . . .

“Mister Rogers” even showed up at the Sundance Film Festival this year in a documentary titled Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Variety notes: “[Director Morgan] Neville’s fantastic archival footage reveals . . . his philosophies, if not the childhood memories that gave Rogers the ability to understand a four-year-old’s brain, almost as if he still carried his in his cardigan pocket. He knew what kids needed to know.”

Huckabee opined, “[Mister Rogers’] show debuted . . . after the Cuban missile crisis, and the world remained on tenterhooks. [His] message upended a few apple carts in his own time, and remains countercultural today. He said, ‘When we look for what’s best in the person . . . we’re doing what God does; so in appreciating our neighbor, we’re participating in something truly sacred.’ Mister Rogers’ theology was radical in 1962 . . . and it remains radical today.”

Chaos, Panic . . . and a Positive Message

When three young Americans foiled a terrorist attack in France on the 15:17 train to Paris on August 21, 2015, they had no idea they were part of a bigger plan. Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos, and Anthony Sadler had grown up together and attended a Christian school in California. As Christians, all three are convinced that their actions that day were part of God’s plan.

Their stunning heroism was chronicled in the autobiography titled The 15:17 to Paris which was recently adapted for the big screen, spreading their message of hope through film. As reported in The Guardian, “Acclaimed actor-director Clint Eastwood asked the trio to play themselves in the movie, along with others involved in the incident. As well as focusing on the onboard action, the film tells the backstories of the childhood friends who were hailed as heroes.”

A remarkable part of this story is that in the midst of the chaos, panic and terror, there is a positive message . . .

“Everyone is capable of the extraordinary, and God has a plan for each of us. I think it’s our responsibility to take that message and be responsible with it and spread it as much as we can so we don’t waste the opportunity that [God] gave us,” said Sadler.